Mint State 1795 2 Leaves Half, O-105
1795 50C 2 Leaves MS61 PCGS. O-105, R.4. Two points
of star 1 are attached solidly to the lowest curl, and the point of
star 2 lies entirely across the end of the second curl from the
bottom. On the reverse the berries are arranged 10 and seven, and
there is one berry above, one below the R in AMERICA.
Near the Top of the Condition Census
After the considerably smaller mintage of 1794 Flowing Hair, Small Eagle half dollars, recorded as 23,464 coins, the fledgling U.S. Mint produced a much larger quantity of 1795 half dollars, recorded as 299,680 pieces. Those recorded mintages are, of course, the numbers of coins produced in each year -- not the number of coins dated in each of those two years. While 1794's emission produced a total of 11 Overton varieties seen to date, the 1795 mintage, which was 12 times larger, produced only three times as many die marriages -- 33. While it is understandable that as Mint personnel gained experience in coining the new denomination they would manage to achieve a greater number of coins struck per die, it still appears that the numbers of known varieties compared to the recorded mintages are somewhat askew. Perhaps there were more 1794-dated pieces produced in 1795, making the 1795 rarer than generally acknowledged. While this is speculation, it does seem to square with the available evidence. However, the fact remains that the 1795 half dollars are much less rare than the 1794 pieces, making the 1795-dated pieces the obvious choice to represent the Flowing Hair, Small Eagle type.
The present coin offers original lustrous, mostly untoned surfaces with a light cast of silver-gold over each side. Perusal with a loupe reveals scattered flecks of steel-gray patina. A bit of planchet roughness or die rust is seen near the obverse stars, and a loupe reveals a few scrapes on Liberty's face, cheek, and neck, and a couple of others in the right (facing) obverse field. There is, of course, strictly no sign of rub, and this piece, save for the light patina, must appear remarkably similar to the day it dropped from the dies 218 years ago. A piece destined to form the centerpiece of an advanced date or type collection.
This piece occupies the sixth slot among top-grade O-105s in Stephen Herrman's spring 2011 auction-price reference, and while that is not an absolute indicator (since it omits private sales and uncertified coins), it gives a fairly reliable gauge for conditional rarity. The five finest listed are two each in MS62 and MS64, along with one MS63.
Ex: Central States Signature (Heritage, 5/2007), lot 2125, which brought $54,625.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 24E7, PCGS# 6052)
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The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato is the culmination of more than 10 years of research into the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series, one of the most coveted type coins in American numismatics and one about which remarkably little has been written.
This work will be the premier reference for 1796-1797 half dollars for years to come. Institutions having an extensive numismatic library or coin cabinet will find it a valuable complement to their holdings, and catalogers charged with writing up specimens for auction can now have an indispensable source of background and pedigree information. Likewise, coin dealers seeking to purchase one or more '96 or '97 half dollars for a client or for inventory, and collectors who own, have owned, or desire to own one will want this important reference work for their libraries.
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