Rare 1797 Half Dollar, XF40 NGC

    1797 50C XF40 NGC. O-101a, R.5. Any Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar appearing in an auction sale is bound to generate excitement among early half dollar specialists, or among those collectors trying to complete an advanced type collection of U.S. coins. This two-year design type bears the dates 1796 and 1797. According to Mint records, a total of 3,918 pieces were struck, all in the year 1797. The first delivery made by the Chief Coiner consisted of 60 coins on February 28, 1797, the second delivery of 874 coins was March 21, and the last delivery of 2,984 pieces was on May 26. All three deliveries were made to the Bank of the United States, who had deposited French silver coins for conversion into U.S. half dollars. Published estimates of surviving 1796-97 half dollars range from around 100 to 300 specimens. Our own continuing research on this series accounts, thus far, for about 220 to 225 different examples. The 1796-dated Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollars feature either 15 obverse stars (Overton 101) or 16 stars (Overton 102). Likewise, the 1797-dated coins consist of two varieties (Overton 101 and Overton 102), which differ according to the wreath alignment on the reverse (both 1797 varieties have 15 obverse stars). Moreover, the reverse die of the 1797 Overton 101 variety began to break up, giving rise to a sub-variety known as Overton 101a, examples of which show extensive reverse die cracks. The coin we offer in the present sale is of the latter sub-variety. Not only is the reverse cracked, but the obverse also shows a diagnostic crack from the rim through star 2 to Liberty's hair curl. The surfaces of this coin are a pleasing light to medium gray with golden undertones, and a splash of pale blue color on Liberty's neck and adjacent hair curls. The design elements are well centered on the planchet, and reveal nice remaining detail, though all of the stars are flat in the centers, and feather detail is absent from the eagle's neck, breast, and legs. Most of the dentilation shows, only that along the right obverse border is weak. A few small marks are noted on Liberty's portrait, in the left obverse field, and along the lower right reverse border area, though none are serious. Light adjustment marks are seen along the right reverse border. This rare, higher circulated-grade half dollar is sure to elicit spirited bidding. Population: 2 in 40, 13 finer (7/04).(#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.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2004
    9th-11th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 704

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $6) 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.

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