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Description

1796/5 Half Eagle, AU55
Small Eagle Reverse, BD-1
Only Variety of the Date

1796/5 $5 Small Eagle AU55 NGC. Breen-6418, BD-1, High R.4. The 1796/5 Small Eagle five dollar gold piece is one of the important rarities in the early half eagle series. The obverse has a prominent overdate, one of the earliest overdates from the Philadelphia Mint. Two 1796 over 5 overdate varieties were minted in Philadelphia, the half dime and half eagle. They are the first two overdates in American coinage. It is impossible to know exactly when they were each coined, although the Mint's delivery records suggest that the overdate half dime was probably coined before the half eagle. Regardless, this single variety is the first overdate in American gold coinage.
Following 12 1795 Small Eagle varieties, just one was produced in 1796, despite a similar annual mintage. The only explanation is that 1795 dies were still serviceable, and remained in use through most of 1796. Finally, the 1796-dated obverse die was engraved and placed into use. It is impossible to know how many were actually struck, although John Dannreuther estimates that only 1,057 to 2,000 coins carried the 1796 date from the annual production of 6,196 coins.
Less than 10 Mint State 1796/5 half eagles are known, despite a higher certified population. This Choice AU specimen is similar in quality to the Harry W. Bass, Jr. coin that is now on display at the ANA museum in Colorado Springs. Both sides have lustrous green-gold surfaces with only a few insignificant blemishes. The strike is sharp and the eye appeal is quite strong. A small color spot is evident at the obverse rim, below the 1 in the date, and a few light adjustment marks show in the cap and hair. Census: 4 in 55, 23 finer (3/11).
Ex: Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 6/1995), lot 799; FUN Signature Auction (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5078.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 7KNJ, PCGS# 8067)

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
Apr-May, 2011
27th-1st
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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Page Views: 930

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