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1801 O-102 Half Dollar, MS64
The Finest 1801 Half Dollar

1801 50C MS64 NGC. CAC. O-102, High R.4. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. This Choice Mint State half dollar exhibits satin luster with simply outrageous album toning. A smattering of surface marks are all that prevent an even higher grade. Both sides are beautifully toned. The obverse has gold and amber at the center, changing to sea-green, pale yellow, russet, and lavender nearer the border. The reverse is similar with amber toning inside rings of iridescent cobalt-blue and lemon-yellow.

The 1801 O-102 die marriage survives to the extent of about 100 coins, and nearly all of those pieces are circulated examples. In fact, we have never seen nor heard of a Mint State example aside from this piece. The second best that we know of is an AU55 PCGS example that appeared in our 2008 Central States Signature sale. Only two or three other AU examples are known. Possibly three or four Mint State examples of the 1801 O-101 exist today, and the finest of those to appear in any recent auctions grades MS63. The Eric P. Newman specimen is the finest known 1801 half dollar.

The Draped Bust obverse made its first appearance on the silver dollars of 1795, and was used for all smaller denominations for the first time in 1796. It is believed that Gilbert Stuart prepared the design from a portrait of Mrs. William Bingham (nee Ann Willing) and that John Eckstein created models for the silver dollar coinage. The design remained in use through 1807, at first with a Small Eagle reverse and later with the Heraldic Eagle reverse, patterned after the Great Seal of the United States. The central figure of Liberty faces to the viewer's right, with the date below, and LIBERTY above. To the left and right are various counts and orientations of stars on the different denominations, dates, and varieties.

The Heraldic Eagle reverse made its first appearance on silver coins on dimes and silver dollars in 1798. The eagle has its wings spread with a shield of stripes and crossbars covering its body. The eagle carries a ribbon in its beak inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM, with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around. There are 13 (usually) stars above the eagle and eight clouds above the stars. The eagle grasps an olive branch in its left talon to the viewer's right (dexter), and a bundle of arrows (usually 13) in its right talon to the left (sinister). The Heraldic Eagle reverse first appeared on half dollars in 1801 and on quarters in 1804. The design was also used for gold coins as early as 1796 on the quarter eagles, 1797 on the half eagles (some dated 1795 were likely struck in 1798), and 1797 on the eagles.

The half dollar coinage of the first two years for the Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle design was intertwined with coins dated 1801 and 1802. Mint records show a production of 30,289 half dollars in 1801 and 29,890 in 1802. There were three die varieties made from two obverse dies and two reverse dies. The 1801-dated obverse die was used for both varieties of 1801, and the 1802-dated obverse die was used for a single 1802 variety. Reverse A of 1801 was used for the majority of coins bearing that date, while reverse B of 1801 was also used with the 1802 obverse. Perhaps 1,000 coins survive for all three varieties with a suggested breakdown of 500 examples of 1801 O-101, 100 examples of 1801 O-102, and 400 examples of 1802 O-101. That estimate suggests that 60% of the combined mintage (36,000) actually carried the 1801 date and 40% (24,000) carried the 1802 date.
Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $90.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 24ED, PCGS# 6064)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
15th-16th Friday-Saturday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 15
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Page Views: 1,801

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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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