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Well-Defined 1797 Half Dollar, Fine 15
Elusive Overton-102 Variety

1797 50C Fine 15 PCGS. O-102, Low R.6. Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollars, bearing the date 1796 or 1797, were produced using three obverse and two reverse dies. The first reverse was paired with the 1796 15 Stars obverse (Overton-101 variety), the 1796 16 Stars obverse (Overton-102), and the 1797 obverse (Overton-101). Light cracks first began to develop in the upper-right quadrant of the reverse die during its use with the 1796 16 Stars obverse. Additional cracks appeared on this reverse die throughout its marriage with the 1797 obverse until it (the reverse die) finally shattered; this terminal die state is classified Overton-101a. The 1797 obverse was then paired with a new reverse die (Overton-102) that differed slightly from the first reverse in terms of the wreath alignment with respect to the peripheral lettering.
A Bust Half Nut Club rarity rating published in the July 2005 issue of the John Reich Journal elevates the 1797 Overton-102 variety from an R.5 to Low R.6, the highest of all four 1796-1797 half dollar varieties. This is generally consistent with research being conducted by Jon Amato that shows fewer specimens of the 1797 Overton-102 having survived (about 35 coins, most all in the low- to midgrade levels) than any of the other three varieties. Similarly, our records indicate fewer auction appearances than the other varieties.
The present Choice Fine example displays highly attractive, relatively uniform battleship-gray toning. Its design features are well-defined for the designated grade. Liberty's hair shows considerable detail, as does the drapery around the bust, and the shoulder is clearly separated from the hair. The reverse is also relatively strong, with the eagle's right (facing) wing exhibiting nearly all the feather detail, and nearly complete separation of the torso, wings, and left (facing) leg. Much of the coin's design detail is actually of a Very Fine nature. Indeed, PCGS may have downgraded this piece because of an old, unobtrusive "X" mark lightly etched into the lower-right obverse field. This does not detract, but only serves to identify the piece, as does a tear-drop planchet void below the eye and a small diagonal mark at the O in OF. A nice, original coin for the type collector or the date/variety specialist.
Ex: Stack's (11/1968), lot 716.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 24EC, PCGS# 6060)

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
August, 2011
11th-14th Thursday-Sunday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,556

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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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