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    1796 15 Stars Half Dollar, O-101, Original VF35
    One of Seven Confirmed Early Die State Examples

    1796 50C 15 Stars, O-101, T-1, Amato 141/145, R.5, VF35 PCGS. Tompkins Die State 1/1. Any auction appearance of a 1796 or 1797 half dollar stirs up considerable interest. An advanced type collection of U.S. coins cannot be considered complete without this two-year design type. However, its minuscule mintage of 3,918 pieces, relatively low survival rate, and high value in all levels of preservation places it beyond the reach of most collectors.

    Additionally, about 30% of surviving examples reveal impairments such as plugs, reengraved design elements, graffiti, harsh cleaning, long or deep scratches, environmental damage, or other problems. Even many of these command five-figure prices in today's market. It is refreshing, therefore, when an original, problem-free example crosses the auction block.

    Such is the case with the present Choice Very Fine offering. Its light grayish-silver surfaces with occasional whispers of electric-blue at the margins retain a fair amount of luster in the recessed areas. The design elements are sharply defined for the designated grade, including Liberty's hair strands, facial features, and most of the drapery. The eagle's wing and tail feathers, its claws and adjacent clouds also display good detail, as do the olive and palm wreathes. The dentilation is sharp on both sides and the devices are nicely centered on the planchet. Importantly, the adjustment marks often seen on early silver coins are absent.

    The foregoing attributes add up to exceptional eye appeal for a coin having seen light to moderate circulation. Another feature contributing to this appeal is the originality of its surfaces. This piece has not been "played with" or doctored. Moreover, it is devoid of significant contact, unusual for a relatively large coin that has seen circulation. We mention two vertical, shallow, unobtrusive scrapes to the upper right of the U in UNITED solely for identification purposes.

    One more point that may be of interest to variety collectors is that this specimen was likely among the first 1796 15 Stars half dollars to be struck. We make this assertion because it lacks the heavy die crack from the rim at 5 o'clock to Liberty's bust and then through the last four stars. We are aware of only seven such pieces out of a total of 74 1796 15 Stars examples that we have documented.
    Ex: Lester Bernstein Collection (Stack's, 4-5/1986), lot 836; Frontenac Sale (Bowers and Merena, 11/1991), lot 3016; Donald E. Bently Collection/FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5242, which realized $106,500.
    From The E.B. Strickland Collection. (NGC ID# 24E9, Variety PCGS# 39261, Base PCGS# 6057)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

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

    View all of [The E.B. Strickland Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    3rd-8th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 19
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 544

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    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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