Important Choice AU 1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle Half Dollar1797 50C AU55 NGC. O-101a, R.5. Long known to be the most difficult type coin of the denomination, these Draped Bust, Small Eagle Half Dollars have enjoyed nearly legendary status and are perhaps the most avidly sought type in all of U.S. numismatics. This design was coined for only two years, 1796 to 1797, with a total mintage of 3,918 pieces. Of this extremely limited production, there are perhaps 150 to 200 survivors, most in well circulated grades. Just four die marriages are known for the type, two for each of the dates of production.
O-101a is perhaps the most interesting variety, because the reverse die eventually disintegrates into a web of interlaced die cracks. On the present high grade example, the obverse is perfect aside from a heavy crack from the rim through the second star to a curl. The reverse, however, has numerous die cracks: 10 o'clock to the wing, from that crack below ST in STATES, the T in STATES to the eagle's neck, from 1 o'clock to the eagle's beak, between ES in STATES, through the first A in AMERICA, U and N in UNITED, the eagle's right (facing) claw to the wing, below the left wing, beside the 1 in the fraction, plus a trio of cracks from the O in OF.
Liberty's cheek and shoulder have light wear, as does the eagle's breast, but the wings and hair curls retain considerable bright luster. This dove-gray piece is essentially unmarked aside from a pair of inconspicuous pinscratches near the hair ribbon. For the advanced collector, the importance of this Choice AU early silver type coin cannot be overstated. (#6060) (NGC ID# 24EC, PCGS# 6060)
Weight: 13.48 grams
Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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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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