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1796 15 Stars Half Dollar, An Exceptional MS62
One of the Rarest U.S. Design Types
Ex: 'Col.' E.H.R. Green

1796 50C 15 Stars MS62 NGC. O-101, R.5. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. Here is an exceptional coin. The album toning displays splashes of gold, brown, electric-blue, and olive through the stars and legend, yielding to semi-brilliant, silvery centers. Both sides exhibit soft satin luster with reflective fields and devices. The strike delivers sharp definition to the design features, including virtually full definition in Liberty's hair and drapery and the eagle's wing and tail plumage. The dentilation is bold, providing an attractive frame to the well centered motifs. A light horizontal adjustment mark midway between Liberty's ear and the neck curl, extending from the jaw into the hair will help identify the coin, as will two similar horizontal file marks on the eagle's breast and a few more on the right (facing) cloud. It is important to note that the referenced marks fail to diminish the bold strike or eye appeal of this impressive piece.

The Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollars of 1796 and 1797 are considered the rarest U.S. silver type coin. Both dates were actually struck in 1797, with Mint records showing deliveries of 60 coins on February 28 (Warrant Number 81), 874 coins on March 21 (Warrant Number 84), and 2,984 coins on May 26 (Warrant Number 90). The total mintage for the entire design was just 3,918 coins. Heritage cataloger and numismatic researcher Jon Amato recently completed his decade long study of this short series, culminating in The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797, Numismatic Background and Census, edited by James Halperin and Mark Van Winkle, and published by Heritage Auctions.

Remarkably, there are four different die varieties known for that small production. Two are dated 1796 and two others are dated 1797. One variety of 1796 has 15 stars on the obverse and the other has 16 stars. Both 1797 varieties have 15 stars. The Amato study records 270 surviving examples of the four varieties, and coincidentally, he lists exactly 135 specimens of each year. However, the Eric P. Newman coins do not appear in his census, so the total for 1796 half dollars is now increased to 137 different coins. The nearly identical total number of surviving specimens suggests that the original mintage may have been nearly equal for coins bearing the two dates, or 1,959 coins dated 1796 and 1,959 coins dated 1797.

The finest surviving examples of the 1796 O-101 die marriage include nine pieces that Amato calls Mint State. Two of those pieces are called Specimen strikes, and four others are marginally finer than the Newman specimen. The Newman coin now joins the elite group of 10 surviving Mint State 1796 half-dollars.
Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $600.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. (NGC ID# 24E9, PCGS# 6057)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
15th-16th Friday-Saturday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 15
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,445

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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

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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