Elusive 1796 16 Stars Half Dollar, Fine 12 PCGS1796 50C 16 Stars Fine 12 PCGS. O-102, R.6. The Draped Bust half dollar with a Small Eagle reverse bears the dates 1796 or 1797, with each date consisting of two varieties. The first variety of the 1796 issue has 15 obverse stars (Overton 101), while the second variety has 16 stars (Overton 102). The 16 star variety apparently commemorated Tennessee's June 1, 1796 admission to the Union as the 16th state. While the dies may have been prepared prior to this date, Mint records indicate that the first Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollars were not delivered by the Chief Coiner until February 28, 1797.
The present 16 star example is nicely centered, and has full Fine details, with nice residual definition showing in the middle and lower parts of Liberty's hair. The dentilation is fairly strong on each side, except along the upper obverse. Medium gray patina visits the peripheral areas, transitioning to a lighter rose-gray in the centers. A few light adjustment marks are visible in the hair beneath Liberty's ear. The surfaces are relatively clean for the grade, displaying just a few minute contact marks over each side.
Only 3,918 Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollars were reportedly minted, and less than 300 are estimated to have survived the ravages of time, making these pieces of Americana the most elusive and highly-valued of all U. S. type coins. Because a 1796 or 1797 half dollar is necessary for the completion of a type set, this lot is likely to see spirited bidder competition.(#6058) (Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 24EA, PCGS# 6058)
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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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