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Pleasing 1796 15 Stars Half Dollar
O-101, VF30

1796 50C 15 Stars VF30 NGC. O-101, R.5. The Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar, bearing the dates 1796 or 1797, is one of the keys to a collection of U.S. type coinage. It is, however, not the rarest type coin; that distinction goes to the one-year-type 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles, and the Gobrecht dollar, all having lower mintages and presumably lower survival rates than the 1796-1797 half. The latter can claim, on the other hand, to be grade for grade the costliest of all U.S. type coins. This is a function of demand, as more numismatists seek to put together a silver-minor coinage type set than one containing gold.
The 1796 15 Stars VF30 half dollar in this lot displays soft golden-gray patination accented with whispers of deeper bluish-gray. The design elements are nicely centered on the planchet and exhibit excellent detail. The dentilation is strong on both sides, and the surfaces are remarkably clean for a coin having seen moderate circulation. Indeed, we are hard pressed to locate pedigree markers. A minute field mark just above the tie ribbon will aid in this purpose, as will a light toning streak in the middle of Liberty's portrait. The diagnostic crack visible on most 1796 15 Stars specimens extends from the obverse rim at 5:00 through the bust-drapery to stars 15, 14, and 13 to the rim at 3:00.
This is an extremely pleasing, original example of this piece of Americana, and as such is sure to elicit spirited bidding. It is not often that circulated, problem-free Small Eagle halves appear at auction. The advanced type or date/variety collector will not want to miss out on this infrequent opportunity.
Ex: Premium Numismatics, Inc. Fixed Price List, April 2004; American Numismatic Rarities Numismatic Sun Fixed Price List, Spring/Summer 2004.
From The Joseph C. Thomas Collection. (NGC ID# 24E8, PCGS# 6057)

View all of [The Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two ]

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Auction Dates
Apr-May, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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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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