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    1796 LIKERTY Half Dime, V-1, LM-1, MS65
    Finest We Have Ever Offered

    1796 H10C LIKERTY, V-1, LM-1, R.3, MS65 NGC. Beautiful light golden patina complements radiant luster and a bold strike on this Gem example of the LIKERTY variety, from the first year of the Draped Bust half dime coinage that would run from 1796 through 1805. Although many pieces of this early type show a soft central strike, the strike through the centers of this example is nothing short of phenomenal, among the strong suits of this no-nonsense Gem coin.

    Variety: V-1, LM-1, R.3. The 1 in the date joins a curl, and its upright is over a dentil. The 7 is a bit closer to the dentils than to the bust. The 9 is equidistant between the bust and dentils. The date is spaced 1 7 96, with the 96 closer than the space between the other digits (but not single-spaced as typed here). Star 1 touches a hair curl, and the next curl is nearly between two points of star 2. LI are quite close, and of course the B is broken at top and bottom. IBE are distant. On the reverse, there is an outer berry below the upright of D. The first leaf extends almost to the right upright of N. Inner and outer berries are under the first S in STATES. ER nearly touch at their bases. A light crack from the rim to the first T in STATES runs downward to the eagle's neck, while the portion between T and A is quite heavy. A small crack joins the U and N in UNITED. Both sides show extensive clash marks from multiple clashes of the die; on the reverse, small die cracks have formed along some of those clash marks, making it difficult in some cases to distinguish between them.

    Population Data (3/15): This Gem is apparently the sole finest of this variety we have ever offered, as it failed to sell and was bought in in our FUN 2007 Signature. The population data are confused, given the die-state status of the LIKERTY variant. PCGS reports one MS65 and one MS67+, backed up by three MS64. NGC data indicate two in MS65 (including this piece) and one MS68 finer.

    Heritage Commentary: Both obverses of 1796 (the 1796 LIKERTY and 1796/5) show 15 stars on the obverse -- eight behind Liberty's head, seven before. This indicates the dies were produced (or at least finished) before Tennessee joined the Union on June 1, 1796. However, the half dimes of 1797 occur in three different star arrangements: 13 stars, 15 stars, and 16 stars. Breen's Complete Encyclopedia explains that the order of subtypes is logically -- and chronologically -- 15 stars, 16 stars, then 13 stars, "despite generations of contrary cataloging. ... the 15-star dies were left over from fall 1795, with final digit omitted, as was then common practice. The 16-star die, like its counterparts in all other silver and gold denominations, was made in 1796 alluding to Tennessee's admission to the Union as the sixteenth state (June 1) ... . And the permanent shift to 13 stars followed Mint Director Elias Boudinot's realizing that the Mint could not go on indefinitely adding new stars as new states entered the Union.

    "Date punches on the 15-star die (like those on the 1796's) are those used on the last vars. of 1795. ..." The two obverse dies are the 1796/5 overdate (V-2, LM-2) and the present nonoverdate variety. The LIKERTY variant, although it has long been collected separately as the "third issue of the year" and is a popular Guide Book variety, is a late die state of the LM-1, which already shows the broken B in LIBERTY. In the later die states, the top and bottom of the letter gradually weaken and finally vanish. On the present example, only threadlike remnants of the top and base are seen. The Logan-McCloskey Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837 (1998) calls LM-1 "a scarce die marriage that [is] usually seen well worn."

    Provenance: FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 841, bought in; purchased from Russell Augustin (10/29/2007). (NGC ID# 22ZX, Variety PCGS# 38596, Base PCGS# 4254)

    Weight: 1.35 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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    Auction Dates
    May, 2015
    12th Tuesday
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    Numismatic Background and Census of 1802 Half Dimes: A Classic American Rarity
    This 64-page book cites mintage and rarity estimates by prominent numismatists and documents the currently known 1802 half dime appearances. Each of the 32 documented examples includes an enlarged obverse/reverse photograph, the author's assigned grade, the provenance of each coin, auction prices realized or dealer fixed asking price, and a unique serial number for each specimen that will facilitate retrieval for research, cataloging, or price-information purposes. Reserve your copy of this remarkable volume for just $29.95 today.
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