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    1796 JR-4 Dime, MS66 Prooflike
    Among the Finest Surviving Examples
    An Important First-Year Type Coin

    1796 10C JR-4, R.4, MS66 Prooflike NGC. Deeply reflective fields and frosted devices throughout complement a strike that produces full details on the hair, all star radials, as well as all elements of the eagle's wings, feathers, and claws on the reverse. The planchet is well-centered, showing full borders on each side. Beautiful sea-green patina on the obverse contrasts against pastel mint and pale sandy-brown on the reverse. Almost certainly a presentation strike.

    Variety: JR-4, R.4. TY touch on the obverse, and star 1 is distant from the lowest hair curl. Two berries appear under the upright of E1. A very scarce variety, far more so than the usually encountered JR-1. There are nonetheless a few notable, high-grade examples of both the JR-1 and JR-4 varieties among others that survive today. The 1796 dimes were the first of the new denomination, so they naturally caught the attention of collectors of the day.

    Population Data (3/15): Many of the 1796 dimes are unattributed as to variety at both services, so the certified variety populations bear little meaning. For the 1796 dimes as a whole, PCGS reports eight in MS66 (one of them, MS66+, attributed as JR-4) with two finer, one each in MS67 and MS68. NGC shows nine grading events in MS66 with two MS67 finer. This MS66 Prooflike NGC piece is the highest-graded Prooflike example at that service, although there is also one in MS64 Prooflike.

    Heritage Commentary: Over the years Gene Gardner purchased at least seven different 1796 Draped Bust dimes -- two in AU55 and AU58, the rest Mint State. Six die varieties were represented; a seventh unique variety, "JR-7," is known from but a single well-circulated, impaired example. The JR-1 Gardner Collection example, bought from Stack's 1999 John Whitney Walter "Mr. 1796" sale, was the ex: Congressman Jimmy Hayes example called "Gem Brilliant Specimen Proof," "undoubtedly a presentation piece," and "a coin of incomparable quality" in the Stack's catalog (lot 1763). That piece was first graded MS66 PCGS and later MS67 PCGS. When we offered it in Part I of the Gene Gardner Collection (Heritage, 6/2014), lot 30229, it brought $881,250.

    Gene Gardner kept a spreadsheet with various bits of information on each of his coin purchases. That Hayes-Walter JR-1 1796 dime is the only one of the issue to which he gave an Eye Appeal rating of 8, calling it "specimen?" (And to our way of thinking, the jury is still out on that question.)

    The present JR-4 piece, certified MS66 Prooflike NGC, is the second-finest of all Gene Gardner's 1796 dimes, irrespective of varieties. It is also the second-finest according to his Eye Appeal criteria, as he rates this coin a 7 on that scale (out of 10) -- the only other among his 1796 dimes so rated.

    Provenance: Bowers and Merena (5/2004), lot 121.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 236B, Variety PCGS# 38745, Base PCGS# 4461)

    Weight: 2.70 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2015
    12th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,650

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