Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1796 16 Stars Draped Bust Half Dollar
    O-102, Sharp VF25
    Not Seen at Auction in 105 Years

    1796 50C 16 Stars, O-102, T-2, High R.5, Amato-212, VF25 PCGS. Tompkins Die State 5/3. This late die state shows a heavy retained cud at stars 1 to 4, with an additional crack that connects star 1 to the dentils at the outer point and continues faintly into the hair curls. On the reverse, a lesser die crack runs from the rim to the O in OF, down the right side of that letter, and into the wreath. Another stretches from the CA in AMERICA toward the fraction.

    This O-102 1796 half dollar is a relic of generations past. It has no known auction appearances in more than a century, since it was offered in the Arthur Nygren Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1914), lot 181. Mehl described the coin:

    "1796. Sixteen stars, 7 before and 8 [sic] behind bust. Variety with die break through the bottom four stars on left. A tiny nick at E in LIBERTY and on eagle. These do not mar the appearance nor value of this precious coin. A few hair lines on neck. Well struck and perfectly centered, only highest portions showing slight wear. Very fine. Excessively rare. Record for this date over $300.00. See plate."

    The lot realized $87, a 30% premium over the price it brought 24 years before, in 1890. The "nick" referenced on the E in LIBERTY is more accurately described as a dimple, although since it deforms the middle crossbar of the E, it is indeed likely of post-Mint origin. The small pits on the eagle's body are less prominent and may be planchet flaws. On the obverse, mint-made planchet adjustment marks slant down and to the left across the neck and hair, and on the reverse there is a vertical planchet lamination in the field to the right of the eagle's beak. In the same location -- and elsewhere around the reverse eagle -- myriad light, swirling scratches smooth the fields. These may have contributed to what appears to be an otherwise conservative numeric grade on the old blue label PCGS holder. Detail on this coin is incredibly sharp for the VF25 grade, with the only significant points of wear being Liberty's temple and the eagle's breast. Each side is uniformly bright lilac-gray and satiny. Aesthetics are pleasing to the unaided eye.
    Ex: Wm. F. Johnson, formerly owned by late Robert Coulton Davis (New York Stamp & Coin, 1/1890), lot 583, which realized $66; Arthur Nygren Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1914), lot 181, which realized $87.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24EA, Variety PCGS# 39262, Base PCGS# 6058)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2019
    14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 35
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,524

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    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.

    Order Now! Just $59.95

    Sold on Mar 14, 2019 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 16 days left to consign to the 2021 December 11 - 13 HKINF World Coins Signature® Auction !

    Learn about consigning with us

    To get the most amount of money for your coins, you must go to an auction company such as Heritage. It really impressed me.
    Benicia, CA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search