Rare 1796 16 Stars Half Dollar, VF30 PCGS1796 50C 16 Stars VF30 PCGS. O-102, R.6. Serious type collectors of United States coinage dream of owning a Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar, which bears the date 1796 or 1797. A type set cannot be considered complete without this important coin. As only 3,918 pieces of both dates combined were reported to have been minted, and as fewer than 300 or so specimens are thought to be extant, most collectors will have to settle for the dream of ownership.
Each date consists of two varieties. The first variety of the 1796 issue has 15 obverse stars (Overton 101), while the second variety has 16 stars (Overton 102). The 16 star variety apparently commemorated Tennessee's June 1, 1796 admission to the Union as the 16th state. It is interesting to note, however, that while the dies may have been prepared prior to this date, Mint records indicate that the first Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollars were not delivered by the Chief Coiner until February 28, 1797 under Warrant Number 81. Subsequent deliveries were made on March 21 per Warrant Number 84, and on May 26 under Warrant Number 90. All deliveries were made to the Bank of the United States. Breen (1988) theorizes that the 1796 16 star specimens were included in the March and May deliveries.
The 1796 16 stars example offered in this lot displays light gray patina with faint champagne-gold undertones. The dentilation is complete, and the design elements are well centered on the planchet. The motifs are nicely defined, as befits the grade. The eagle's torso and extremities are somewhat flat, but this is characteristic of the type. The surfaces are remarkably clean, exhibiting no mentionable abrasions. A few moderate horizontal adjustment marks are noted on Liberty's neck and middle hair curls. Such marks are, of course, found on many precious metal coins of this era.
Overall, this is a most pleasing specimen of a highly desirable piece of Americana. As such, it is sure to attract strong bids. Population: 1 in 30, 5 finer (1/05).(#6058) (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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