1796 Dime, Richly Toned MS64, JR-6
1796 10C MS64 NGC. JR-6, R.3. U.S. dime coinage began in
1796, while half dime coinage commenced in 1794. The first
circulating dime design, which this piece represents, is a Draped
Bust (1796-1807), 15 Star obverse type, combined with the Small
Eagle reverse, which would last only through 1797.
Strong Reflectivity in the Fields
The present JR-6 dime, certified at the near-Gem level by NGC, is a variety easily identified by the wide LIBERTY on the obverse, Obverse 5 in the John Reich Collectors Society dime book and the only one that shows no letters touching in LIBERTY. This obverse has been called the "Hyphenated Date" for the long die crack running horizontally through the 1 and 7 in the date, quite heavy on this piece. In later die states, as here, a second vertical crack progresses from the rim upward through the ball of the 9 and the left side of its loop to the bust, ending at the lower drapery folds. Another runs left from the 1 into the field near star 1. Three cracks emanate from star 4 to the rear of Liberty's hair, and yet another from star 8 to the hair. A curious small depression in the left field near those numerous die cracks at star 4 may be either some anomaly that was in the die, or a bulge in the planchet itself; it is difficult to determine the source.
The reverse shows a leaf tip under the left side of the second T in STATES, and leaves touch the first A, the R, and the I, all in AMERICA. The reverse die state is late as well, with the most prominent crack running from the upper eagle's breast through the left (facing) wing, the upper left wreath, to the rim between S and T in STATES. Other small die cracks appear.
This piece is interesting due to the advanced die states observed, but it is also quite lovely from an aesthetic viewpoint, with much prooflike reflectivity throughout the fields on both sides. The John Reich book comments that early strikes are prooflike; perhaps the dies could have been repolished at some point (or used more than once). Moderate patina is deeper on the obverse, a mix of blue, green, and pink at the center, while the reverse shows more pinkish-gold at the center. A small planchet indent appears on the reverse between the left stem and lowest leaf, and a couple of other minor contact marks are in keeping with the grade.
The strike is meticulous, bringing up a wealth of detail on Liberty's hair, the star centrils, the eagle's breast (even in the often-weak center), and the denticles as well. It is difficult to say if this piece was intended as a presentation strike or not, but the reflective surfaces display marvelous quality in any case.
The last JR-6 in this grade that we offered, an MS64 PCGS example, traded hands at $69,000 (Long Beach Signature, Heritage, 2/2012, lot 3304).(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 236B, PCGS# 4461)
Weight: 2.70 grams
Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper
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