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1797 O-101a Half Dollar, AU55
Draped Bust, Small Eagle
The Rarest Silver Coinage Design
Dr. Clifford Smith Specimen

1797 50C AU55 NGC. O-101a, High R.4. Amato-410. There are four known die varieties for the 1796 and 1797 half dollars, with a combined mintage of only 3,918 coins. That low mintage alone is enough to capture the attention of type collectors, but this must-have silver coinage design has a low survival rate as well, with less than 300 known specimens for all four die varieties struck during the two years.

Heritage cataloger Jon P. Amato, Ph.D., researched this issue for several years, culminating in publication of The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797, Numismatic Background and Census, late last year. His census includes 135 examples of 1796 (74 O-101; 61 O-102) and 135 examples of 1797 (100 O-101; 35 O-102). A further breakdown of the 1797 O-101 die marriage offered here shows 33 examples of the early die state, O-101, and 67 example of the late die state, O-101a.

This example is coin serial number 410 in his reference, with a small depression between star 11 and Liberty's chin, and a provenance mark just below the leading edge of Liberty's neck. A tiny rim nick above the C in AMERICA is only mentioned for identification purposes. Glossy gray-gold patina on both sides appears within a frame medium blue peripheral toning on the obverse, with similar colors intermingled across the reverse. Hints of satiny luster remain on both sides.
Ex: Dr. Clifford E. Smith Collection (Stack's, 5/1955), lot 1017; R.L. Miles, Jr. Collection (Stack's, 4/1969), lot 1207; Worrell Collection (Superior, 9/1993), lot 637; Superior (1/1994), lot 1438; Superior (9/1998), lot 330; North America Certified Trading (FPL, 5/2002); John Hamrick (FPL, 12/2002); to the present consignor.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 24EC, PCGS# 6060)

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Auction Dates
August, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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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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