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Gorgeous 1796 O-102 Half, Fine 151796 50C 16 Stars Fine 15 PCGS. O-102, High R.5. Collectors attempting to complete a type set of U.S. coinage ultimately are faced with the acquisition of a 1796 or 1797 half dollar. While not the rarest U.S. type coin (the 1796 No Stars and 1808 quarter eagles have that distinction), the Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar is certainly the most pricey grade for grade.
Moreover, type collectors face stiff competition from early half dollar date and variety specialists. That is because the 1796 half comes with either 15 or 16 stars (the latter apparently associated with the admission of Tennessee as the 16th state), and the 1797 has two slightly different reverses, one of which includes an advanced die state. In addition to its two-year type status, these attributes make this Draped Bust Small Eagle design type an exciting series for numismatists.
The present 1796 16 Stars half dollar will satisfy collectors of any of the above persuasions. Except for expertly reengraved stars, the detail on the remaining design elements appears to be original. Liberty's hair and facial features are quite strong, and all of the dentilation shows. Indeed, only the lowest portions of the eagle exhibit a bit of weakness. The enhanced star detail is so well executed that it is quite easily overlooked. Natural golden-gray patina displays aqua-green and golden-tan accents in the recesses, especially on the obverse, with whispers of russet more prominent on the reverse. Close examination reveals no detracting abrasions or scratches, and adjustment marks are completely absent. In summary, this is a rather exceptional piece for a coin that has seen moderate circulation.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 24EA, PCGS# 6058)
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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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