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    Rare 1797 Half Dollar With AU Details

    1797 50C --Environmental Damage--ANACS. AU Details, Net XF40. O-102. One of the great rarities of American numismatics, the Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar, bearing the dates 1796 and 1797, is transitional between the Flowing Hair type of 1794-1795 and the Draped Bust type of 1801-1807 with a Heraldic, or large Eagle, reverse. Some numismatists attribute the Draped Bust design, which first appeared on the silver dollar in 1795, to the American portraitist Gilbert Stuart, and credit John Eckstein with the reverse small eagle perched on the clouds. These attributions are as yet unproven, however. The Draped Bust half dollar is the most elusive U.S. silver type coin, if indeed not one of the most difficult of all U.S. type coins. While dated 1796 and 1797, Mint records indicate that all 3,918 pieces were coined in 1797. The first 60 coins were delivered February 28, the second delivery of 874 pieces was March 21, and 2,984 coins were delivered May 26. All three deliveries were made to the Bank of the United States. Four varieties are known, a 15 star and a 16 star variety for the 1796 issue, and two 1797 varieties based on slight alignment differences of the reverse wreath. Published estimates on the number of extant specimens vary from approximately 100 to 300 examples. Our own research, to date, accounts for about 220 specimens. These range throughout the grading continuum, but show a relatively high number in the VF category. The present Overton 102 example is attributed by the tip of the upper left leaf on the olive branch that is located beneath the second T in STATES, and the tip of the upper right palm branch that terminates at the end of the left foot of the F in OF. The fields are toned a light to medium gray, with the highpoints of the design elements showing a more silverish color. Liberty's hair strands are nicely defined, with some weakness in the hair near the temple. The dentils, along with the stars along the right obverse border, are weak, as typical for this variety. The eagle's head, neck, breast, and legs, while raised, are weak in the center areas. The reverse rim shows relatively strong dentilation, and all of the design elements are well centered on the planchet. The surfaces do not reveal any major abrasions, but are lightly porous on the obverse, and more moderately so on the reverse. Adjustment marks (as made) are located along the right and upper obverse border, with a few extending into Liberty's hair at the very top of the head.
    Ex: Heritage Rare Coin Galleries, 1986.
    From The Willamette Collection. (#6060) (Registry values: N10218) (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.

    View all of [The Willamette Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2004
    20th-21st Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 820

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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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