Elusive 1796 16 Stars Half Dollar, VG8 NGC1796 50C 16 Stars VG8 NGC. O-102, R.6. Ex: Brown Collection. The Draped Bust half dollar with a Small Eagle reverse bears the dates 1796 or 1797, with each date consisting 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 that while the dies may have been prepared prior to this date, Mint Records indicate that all 1796-1797 Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollars were delivered in 1797 (February 28, March 21, and May 26). Breen (1988) theorizes that 16 star specimens were included in the March and May deliveries.
The coin we offer in this lot exhibits relatively even wear. The dominant patination is tannish-gray that takes on a more charcoal-gray toward the borders, which is more extensively distributed on the reverse periphery. The latter area is also accented with cobalt-blue and lilac colors. The design elements are all outlined, with the exception of the outer edge of the eagle's left wing. Some of Liberty's hair curls around the ear show, as do a few of the eagle's wing feathers. Some small contact and wispy slide marks are scattered about, but are all within the context of the grade designation. The heavy die crack showing on most specimens that joins the first four stars, then extends to the milling left of the date, is absent from this particular coin.
This is a rare opportunity for the advanced collector trying to complete a type set, as a 1796 or 1797-dated half dollar is the key to the collection. The specimen in this lot will also attract the attention of the half dollar specialist attempting to complete a date and/or variety set. Consequently, we are expecting to see spirited bidder competition for this highly elusive coin.(#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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