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    Originally Toned 15 Stars 1797 Half Dime, MS 63 NGC

    1797 MS 63 NGC. 15 Stars. V-2, R.3. Collectors owe the existence of this brief type to Henry William DeSaussure, the Mint Director who replaced David Rittenhouse in the summer of 1795. DeSaussure immediately set out to still the rancorous criticism that had besieged the Mint since early 1795 by improving all of the silver coin designs. To fulfill this goal, Gilbert Stuart, a noted portraitist, modeled a sketch of Ms. Liberty after Mrs. William Bingham, nee Ann Willing. Although this sketch undoubtedly did much credit to Stuart's abilities, its redeeming qualities were lost when John Eckstein, a novice engraver, butchered the design during its conversion to device punches. Eckstein, who went on to other work after a surprisingly short period of time, combined with Robert Scot to design the reverse. The half dime carried this new design for only two years: 1796-97. The Mint declined to strike half dimes in both 1798 and 1799. When coinage resumed in 1800, the small eagle reverse yielded to Scot's new heraldic eagle.
    With a mintage of 44,527 pieces, the 1797 half dime is easily the more obtainable date of its type. There is only one variety of the 15-star obverse and most known examples are weakly struck in the centers. This piece is, unfortunately, a follower and not a leader. Liberty's inner hair curls and the eagle's entire body are poorly delineated. The outlying devices are, however, sufficiently impressed and both sides are neatly centered within their borders. Variegated shades of gray envelope the obverse while charcoal, gray, russet, and blue-green hues equally endow the reverse. With no abrasions to report, this piece is of paramount importance to advanced type collectors. Population: 5 in 63, 5 finer (6/99). (NGC ID# 22ZZ, PCGS# 4258)

    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
    August, 1999
    11th-13th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 170
    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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