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    1794 O-105 Flowing Hair Half Dollar, AU58+
    The Former Cardinal Collection Specimen
    Finest Known for the Variety

    1794 50C O-105, T-3, High R.4, AU58+ PCGS. Tompkins Die State 1/2. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792 provided for gold, silver, and copper denominations to serve as the foundation of U.S. coinage. Gold denominations were the eagle, half eagle, and quarter eagle, while designated silver denominations included the dollar, half dollar, quarter, dismes, and half dismes. Cents and half cents were the approved copper coins. A trial mintage of 1792 half dismes in 1792 paved the way for more federal coinage.

    Among the silver denominations, 1794 dollars were clearly intended to be showpieces of the new nation. In comparison, all other silver denominations were of secondary importance -- a situation that quickly changed when the Mint's coining press proved insufficient to strike the silver dollar format. Late in 1794, the need to coin silver deposits could not wait six months while a new press was installed, clearing the way for a small mintage of 1794 half dollars in December of that year.

    Likewise, half dimes dated 1794 were struck, but they were not minted until February 1795. No quarters or dimes were struck in either 1794 or 1795.

    The half dollar proved to be an acceptable alternative to silver dollars. Researchers have differing opinions about exactly how many 1794 half dollars were struck, but the prevailing consensus (based on Mint delivery warrants) suggests 5,300 1794 half dollars were delivered in December 1794 and 18,464 half dollars dated 1794 were delivered on February 4, 1795 for a total of 23,464 pieces struck. A survival rate between 3% and 4% -- typical for early Mint issues -- further supports the estimated mintage. Approximately 800 1794 half dollars are thought to survive, including all grades and varieties.

    Flowing Hair half dollars circulated extensively. They were a "blue collar" coin -- less spectacular than the silver dollars, but often the preferred denomination in commerce. For today's collectors, 1794 half dollars offer a relatively affordable alternative to the rare and expensive 1794 dollars, although no one would turn down an opportunity to have both. In relation to their mintage, 1794 half dollars are far rarer in high grades than their dollar counterparts, and they are equally rare in terms of the sheer number of high-grade survivors (AU and finer). Uncirculated 1794 half dollars are great rarities, with just 9 Mint State pieces reported by PCGS and NGC combined.

    The present example is the very definition of a borderline Uncirculated coin, and as the scarce O-105 variety it is doubly rare. This exact coin was at one time certified MS62 NGC, having most recently appeared in its MS62 holder as part of the well-known Cardinal Collection (Bowers & Merena, 8/2010), lot 1004. At some point it was subsequently certified by PCGS as AU58+. It remains the finest of its O-105, T-3 die marriage by virtue of the important PCGS Plus designation. All other Mint State 1794 halves are the more available O-101 or O-101a die marriage (not that any 1794 half dollar is common).

    This coin displays an intermediate die state between O-105 and O-105a., with a diagnostic die crack that runs from the left rim through the first T in STATES, but it does not extend through the leaves below. In a later die state, the same crack spans the reverse and emerges from the eagle's right (facing) wing tip to the opposite rim.

    An overweight planchet prompted the Mint to adjust the flan. Some short, faint adjustment marks run diagonally downward from above AM in AMERICA, meeting wispy remnants of additional adjustment marks that exist above the eagle's head and below the wing. Still, the strike is sharp on both sides given the rudimentary equipment and fragile dies employed by the early Mint. A few of the right-hand stars are not quite full, although the eagle's breast is well-feathered. Liberty's flowing hair strands are boldly defined.
    There are no untoward abrasions or marks to distract the eye from attractive, reddish-gold translucence complemented by lavender, blue, and olive-gray accents. Mint luster shines through the magnificent original patina, framed by bold rims and full dentils. Overton specialists and early type collectors alike are sure to compete for the honor of having this exceptional 1794 half dollar grace their collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24E6, Variety PCGS# 39206, Base PCGS# 6051)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2021
    7th-10th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 38
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,597

    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.

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