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1797 50C O-102, MS

Image Information

Type Coin
Title 1797 50C O-102, MS
Date 1797
Grade AU55
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 39266
Denomination 50C

1797 50C O-102, T-2, Low R.6, AU55 NGC. Amato Unlisted. This is the final of the four Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar varieties, pairing the 1797 obverse die with a new reverse die. The older reverse die had been paired with the 1796 15 Stars, 1796 16 Stars, and 1797 O-101, after which it shattered (1797 O-101a late die state). The new reverse differs from the previous one with a slightly different alignment of the palm and laurel wreaths with respect to the legend. It is the rarest of the four varieties. The 1796-1797 half dollar saw a minuscule production of 3,918 pieces. Collectors seeking to assemble a complete set of United States design types require one example, early half dollar date collectors need both dates, and variety specialists require all four die marriages, plus perhaps the late die state issue. Moreover, our continuing research on this series indicates that at least 30 percent reveal one or more impairments. These factors impart increasing pressure on original, problem-free specimens, keeping the cost of acquisition beyond all but the more advanced, specialized collectors. This is the finest O-102 coin listed on either grading service's population report. NGC has graded four, with this AU55 the finest, followed by a single VF and two VGs; PCGS reports only two of this variety, a Fine and a VF (7/17). However, we are aware of an NGC MS 61 1797 unattributed on the holder, offered and unsold by ANR in its Allison Park-Pittsburgh sale of August 2004, lot 420. This example was also an O-102 per the March 2017 AMBPR (information courtesy of Sheridan Downey and Steve Hermann). The present Choice AU offering yields outstanding technical quality and aesthetic appeal. Reddish-brown and purple patina gravitates to both the obverse and reverse margins, being more extensive with deeper hues on the former. This cedes to greenish-yellow in the remaining obverse field, leaving Liberty's portrait mostly silver-white. The reverse center displays the same silver-white color pallete. Liberty's hair strands and curls are sharply delineated; only the hair adjacent to the forehead reveals high-point wear. The gown folds and lines are likewise sharp. The eagle's wing and tail feathers are well-defined, as are the laurel and palm leaves. The dentilation is full, nicely framing the perfectly centered devices. No adjustment marks are evident, and none of the few circulation marks are worthy of individual mention. All in all, this highly desirable, two-year key type coin is a great choice for a high-grade, specialized collection. While not listed in the Heritage-published 2012 reference The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796-1797, the Green-Johnson-Newman specimen will be entered at, illustrating new discoveries and recent auction prices realized. Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $300.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15090, realized $168000. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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