Marvelous 1796 16 Stars Half Dollar, VF301796 50C 16 Stars VF30 PCGS. O-102, High R.5. Early (pre-Turban) U.S. silver coinage underwent three distinct design changes: the Flowing Hair, the Draped Bust Small Eagle, and the Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle types. Only the half dime, half dollar, and dollar went through the entire progression. The dime and quarter were struck in only the Draped Bust Small and Heraldic Eagle design types.
Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollars consist of two design subtypes: 15 and 16 stars. The incipient 1796 issue had 15 stars. Sixteen stars were engraved on a second 1796-dated obverse die, apparently to commemorate Tennessee's admission to the Union as the 16th state. The star number was decreased to 15 on the 1797 obverse die. This change may have occurred because Mint personnel thought the 16-star obverse presented too much of a crowded appearance, especially along the left border.
This piece shows a light gray cast overall with pale accents over the highpoints of the devices, and the peripheries display an olive tint. The design motifs are nicely centered, and the dentils are strong on both sides, except along the upper obverse border. The devices exhibit excellent detail for the grade with considerable definition on Liberty's hair and ear, breasts and drapery, the eagle's wing feathers, and the olive and palm leaves. Light, short adjustment marks are visible along the upper left obverse border, and beneath the two hair curls that drop from Liberty's ear. Some wispy slide marks are noted on the figure of Liberty, as are a few inoffensive pinscratches on the face, neck, and shoulder areas. A small indent, possibly a planchet defect, is located in the field between the eagle's beak and left (right facing) wing, serving to identify this coin. A relatively heavy die crack travels from the rim left of the date through the first four stars, and then exits at the rim left of star 4. This crack is visible on most known 16 Star 1796 halves.
This is a lovely example of this elusive half dollar. It is an original piece that is devoid of any major flaws. The winning bidder will acquire a marvelous mid-grade representative of the key that is necessary to complete a type set of U.S. coinage.
From The Troy Wiseman Collection.(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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