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    1795 Small Head Half Dollar, MS63
    The Lord St. Oswald Coin
    O-126a, Sole Mint State Example

    1795 50C Two Leaves, Small Head, O-126a, T-22, High R.4, MS63 PCGS. Ex: Pogue-Simpson. Tompkins Die State 1/2. Among 1795 Overton varieties, three are of never-ending interest to early half dollar enthusiasts: the O-126, O-127, and O-128 Small Heads. Two of the varieties (O-127 and O-128) are rare, and seldom seen above the VF grade level. The O-126 die marriage is a bit more available, but scarce in circulated grades above VF. Only one Small Head exists in Uncirculated condition, and it is the amazing coin offered now. This coin is believed to have been acquired directly from the Philadelphia Mint in 1795 by William Strickland, before returning with Strickland to England and eventually gracing the Lord St. Oswald Collection by descent. In recent years, the coin has acquired an equally impressive U.S. pedigree that includes the R. Brent Pogue and Bob R. Simpson collections.

    The Small Heads are an interesting interlude in the 1795 Flowing Hair series. They appear in the second half of an emission sequence that includes 31 varieties overall. While many collectors assume the three Small Head varieties were done one after the other in Overton sequence, the latest research suggests otherwise. The modified portrait is first seen as Tompkins-18 (O-128) -- the scarcest of the three Small Heads -- followed later in the series by Tompkins-22 (O-126, O-126a) and Tompkins-23 (O-127 and O-127a, the so-called Narrow Head). One wonders if the revised portraits were created simply for aesthetics, or if it was a coordinated attempt by the Mint to extend die life, soon abandoned when the O-127 obverse die fell apart.

    There is no universal agreement about who was the designer, although most numismatists believe either Robert Scot or John Smith Gardner created the Small Head design. Steve Tompkins' recent research concludes Chief Engraver Robert Scot was responsible for the Small Head portraits, with John Smith Gardner likely preparing the working dies.

    All of which seems of secondary importance when viewing this remarkable coin. If ever there was an early half dollar with an inarguable claim to full Mint State, this frosted and blatantly original example is it. Exquisitely deep-seated, natural toning radiates shades of tan-gold, lilac, and light-gray that shimmer throughout the lustrous obverse, while lavender and rose hues join the palette on the richly toned reverse. Unblemished rims support full, sharp dentils that surround smooth fields and well-struck devices. The only marks to note are a few brief, faint adjustment marks in the hair above Liberty's ear, barely visible. Their presence contributes to a bit of weakness at the eagle's breast. When all is said and done, this immaculate Small Head is destined for the most advanced collection of early half dollars. Supported by impeccable lore and lineage, the coin speaks for itself in terms of rarity and unsurpassed quality.
    Ex: An English collection, possibly acquired by William Strickland directly from the Philadelphia Mint in 1795; Major Sir Rowland Denys Guy Winn, M. C., 4th Baron St. Oswald, by descent; Lord St. Oswald Collection (Christie, Manson & Woods, 10/1964), lot 144; Lester Merkin's sale of April 1971, lot 596; Reed Hawn Collection; Stack's sale of the Reed Hawn Collection, August 1973, lot 3; Dr. George F. Oviedo, Jr. Collection; Stack's sale of the Dr. George F. Oviedo, Jr. Collection of U.S. Half Dollars, September 1983, lot 722; Stack's 64th Anniversary sale, October 1999, lot 341: D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part 1, Stack's Bowers, May, 2015: Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24E7, Variety PCGS# 39248, Base PCGS# 6054)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Proxy Bidding Ends
    19th Thursday 5:50 pm CT
    Auction Dates
    19th-22nd Thursday-Sunday
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    This lot is in: 1 - Signature® Floor Session (Live Floor, Live Phone, Mail, Fax, Internet, and Heritage Live):
    (Lots 3001-3279) - 6:00 PM Central Time, Thursday, November 19, 2020.
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    Dallas, TX 75261

    The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797 by Jon Amato

    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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