Sharp 1797 Half Dollar, VF30
1797 50C VF30 NGC. O-102, Low R.6. The appearance of a
Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar in a public auction sale is
always a cause for excitement. This two-year design type, bearing
the dates 1796 or 1797, is after all, necessary to complete a
collection of U.S. type coins. Its minuscule mintage of 3,918
pieces, and its survival rate of between 240 and 300 examples,
results in keen competition when a specimen does come up for
Desirable O-102 Variety, Low R.6
Each date consists of two varieties: the 1796 Overton 101 variety displays 15 obverse stars, while the 1796 Overton 102 has 16 stars; the two 1797 varieties - Overton 101 and Overton 102 - (both of which contain 15 stars) are distinguished by the alignment of the reverse wreath relative to the peripheral legend. The 1797 Overton 101 reveals a leaf tip ending at the left serif of the base of the second T in STATES, while the leaf extends entirely beneath the base of the T on the 102 variety. Also, a leaf tip ends mid way between the O and F of OF on the 1797 Overton 101, but extends only to the left serif of the base of the F on the Overton 102.
For a considerable period of time, it was thought that the 1796 16 stars (Overton 102) was the scarcest of the four varieties. However, revised rarity ratings by the Bust Half Nut Club (see Stephen J. Herrman, John Reich Journal, June 2005), lowered the 1796 16 stars variety from R.6 to high R.5, and elevated the 1797 Overton 102 from R.5 to low R.6. These new R values are consistent with independent findings published by this cataloger (Jon Amato) in the February 2005 issue of the John Reich Journal, Volume 16, Issue 2, p.14.
The 1797 Overton 102 offered in the current lot displays light silver-gray surfaces that take on whispers of lavender and sky-blue along the borders, especially on those of the obverse. The design features are nicely centered on the planchet, and retain sharp detail throughout. Most of the reverse dentilation is bold, while that on the right obverse reveals the usual weakness. Both sides are devoid of adjustment marks. A small abrasion about mid way between the ear and curl on the neck serves to pedigree the piece, as does a small mark to the right of the eagle's beak. A few other minute contact and slide marks scattered over each side, that are certainly within the parameters of the grade designation for a 200 plus year-old coin, are also noted.
Advanced collectors seeking to complete a U.S. type set or a date/variety collection of early half dollars are encouraged to give this classic piece of Americana serious consideration. There are relatively few opportunities for one to acquire a 1796-1797 Draped Bust half dollar specimen of this quality. Consequently, we expect this lot to generate spirited bidding.
Ex: Stack's (6/1975), lot 463; The Edmonton Sale (Bowers and Merena, 3/1993), lot 1226.
From The Scott Rudolph Collection.
See: Video Lot Description(Registry values: N7079) (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 Scott Rudolph Collection ]
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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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