Eliasberg's 1795 O-113a Half Dollar, MS641795 50C 2 Leaves MS64 NGC. O-113a, R.3. E over A in STATES. The obverse die is immediately recognized by the heavy die chip between the 5 and final star, and the blundered reverse die is quickly recognized by the engraving error with the A in STATES punched over the E. Who knows what the engraver may have been thinking when he produced this die. Perhaps he thought he was already up to the second T in STATES, and grabbed the E punch by mistake. Most likely, it was a simple mistake that he punched an E instead of an A. The TE letter sequence appears twice on the reverse, perhaps helping to explain the engraving error.
Remember that the engraver had to work in reverse, on an extremely small surface, with hand tools rather than the various hubs that are used today. Most likely he punched the final S at the top of the die first, then added he adjacent letters, one at a time, until he had completed the legend. This challenging work procedure resulted in a few other, similar blunders, including the 1806 STATES over STATAS half dollar, the 1814 A over E half dollars, the STATES over STATED half dollar, and the similar S over D half eagle.
The obverse is cracked through the tops of LIBERTY. Actually, there are three different die cracks: (1) through the tops of LIB, (2) through the tops of ER, and (3), through the tops of TY. Cracks 2 and 3 join between R and T. A heavy die chip is positioned between the 5 and star 15, below the bust tip, with additional cracks or die flaws through the last four stars on the right. Light clash marks are evident in the obverse fields. The reverse has light die rust and faint clash marks, and the appearance of a fine die crack trapped between the eagle's rock and the branch below. Hidden in the details, the reverse crack is extremely difficult to see.
This is the Eliasberg specimen, considered the finest known 1795 O-113 half dollar, of either the early or late die state. Only two or three Mint State examples are known. An example sold in the Fivaz Collection sale in 2002 may be the second finest known. Faint champagne toning over brilliant and frosty silver surfaces. Peripheral obverse and reverse rim disturbances are from the edge lettering process and are strictly as made. Considerable central obverse and reverse weakness is evident, with stronger peripheral details. In the Eliasberg catalog, this writer wrote: "Brilliant and highly lustrous with just a whisper of delicate golden toning. An extremely pleasing coin from a visual aspect. This coin could not have appeared much different during the era in which it was struck!" Today, a dozen years after the Eliasberg catalog was written, the coin remains virtually unchanged, and still looks little different from its appearance over 200 years ago.
From The Joseph C. Thomas Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 24E7, PCGS# 6052)
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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato is the culmination of more than 10 years of research into the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, one of the most coveted type coins in American numismatics and one about which remarkably little has been written.
This work will be the premier reference for 1796-1797 half dollars for years to come. Institutions having an extensive numismatic library or coin cabinet will find it a valuable complement to their holdings, and catalogers charged with writing up specimens for auction can now have an indispensable source of background and pedigree information. Likewise, coin dealers seeking to purchase one or more '96 or '97 half dollars for a client or for inventory, and collectors who own, have owned, or desire to own one will want this important reference work for their libraries.
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