The Finest Known 1796 JR-5 Dime, MS621796 10C MS62 NGC. JR-5, R.5. A wonderful Mint State specimen that exhibits reflective fields, deeper on the obverse. The centers of the design motifs are weak, with only a few remaining breast feathers on the reverse, but all peripheral elements are bold. The obverse is deeply toned with intermingled gunmetal-blue and ivory, the reverse lighter with hints of pale blue. Faint hairlines on both sides and abrasions on the reverse prevent a higher grade, yet this is clearly the finest that Ed Price or we have seen.
Die State. The obverse has a heavy crack through the R to Liberty's hair, face, neck, and drapery, to the border right of the 6. A branch of this crack extends left through the center dot to star 3 and the border. The reverse is cracked from the leaftip below OF to the final S, with a branch extending upward. Another crack from the eagle's tail feathers joins the third wing feather and continues through the wing to the leaf above. A branch of this second crack extends to the tip of the same leaf, reaching the right terminal leaf. Other faint die cracks are visible in the upper part of the design.
Condition Census. Prior to this offering, the finest we have handled is an AU55 coin formerly from the Lovejoy Collection. The Price Collection coin is undoubtedly the finest known example, and it is probably the only Mint State example that survives from the die pair.
Appearances. Plated in the Norweb and Whitney catalogs.
Obverse Die. Star 1 joins the center of curl 2, diagnostic. The 1 is close to the curl and the top of the 6 nearly touches the drapery. Stars 8 and 9 are distant from L and Y, and star 15 is close to the drapery. LIBERTY has LIBE widely spaced and ERTY much closer, with ER and TY joined.
State a. Perfect dies. State b. The obverse has a crack through the R to Liberty's hair, face, neck, and drapery, to the border right of the 6. A branch of this crack extends left through the center dot to star 3 and the border.
Reverse Die. Leaf tip below right base of A in STATES, diagnostic. The left branch has 17 leaves and four berries, and the right branch has 13 leaves. The two outer berries are on stems that appear to grow out of leaves. They are positioned below the upright of E and three-fourths of the distance from D to S. All leaves in the left branch are separated from the letters. In the right branch, a leaf joins the base of E just right of center, and another joins the right base of the I. AME are extremely close with M slightly high. All other letters are well-spaced.
State a. Perfect. State b. A faint die crack extends from the tip of the upper right leaf, toward the final S. State c. Heavy clash marks. State d. Cracked from the tail feathers to the third feather of the right wing.
Heritage Commentary. Several die cracks appear on this variety that did not appear on the reverse of JR-4, indicating that JR-5 was clearly struck after JR-4. It is unknown where JR-7 fits in the emission sequence, although the unique survivor shows cracks similar to JR-5. The newly discovered JR-7 could have been struck before or after JR-5.
The JR-5 is the rarest 1796 variety among the six listed in the dime book. Only the unique JR-7 is rarer. The existing population of these dimes is most likely in the vicinity of 50 coins.
Consignor Commentary. The Norweb-Whitney and Bareford-Lovejoy coins seem to be the two finest known examples of the variety. In both the Whitney and Norweb catalogs, the two coins were considered tied for finest known. The catalogers had never seen both coins together. I owned both coins for many years. The Norweb-Whitney coin is clearly superior to the Bareford-Lovejoy coin. They are really distant in quality. In fact, when Stack's cataloged the Lovejoy Collection in 1990, they had already downgraded the Bareford coin to XF.
Provenance. Ex: New Netherlands Coin Co. (privately, 8/1953); Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 390; Whitney Collection (Stack's, 5/1999), lot 1770.
From The Ed Price Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 236B, 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.
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