1797 H10C 16 Stars MS (PCGS# 4259)
Lot Number: 7252
A lovely example that obviously spent many years (probably decades) stored in a Wayte Raymond type coin holder, both sides of this piece are target toned in vivid golden-rose, sea-green and pale-pink colors around golden-gray centers. We note a superior quality of strike in a Draped Bust half dime, the overall definition sharp with minor lack of detail confined to Liberty's bust on the obverse and the eagle's head on the reverse (these areas are in opposition to each other on the dies, explaining the softness of strike). Free of significant abrasions -- a superior quality example at the lower reaches of AU.<br /> An elusive die marriage in all grades, there were no examples of the 1797 V-3 half dime reported by collectors in the <em>John Reich Journal </em>census of 2005. The present example is identifiable for pedigree purposes by a minuscule planchet flaw (as made) at the obverse border outside the letter L in LIBERTY.<br /> <br /> <strong>Numismatic Reflections by Q. David Bowers</strong><br /> Offered is a very desirable example of this interesting variety with 16 obverse stars. The thought at the time was to add one star each time a state joined the Union. There were 13 original states, to which Vermont, the 14th, was added in 1791, but no recognition on the stars when the Philadelphia Mint began coining silver (with stars in the design) in 1794. However, in 1795 when Kentucky joined as the 15th state, coins with 15 stars were made. Then with Tennessee in 1796, 16 stars were used, as here. Enough is enough, must have been thought, or there would be no room on the coins, so after 1796 the style reverted to 13 stars. Half dimes of 1797 occur in different star counts, creating one of the most interesting years in silver coinage. The present piece, with its attractive toning, is bound to attract a lot of attention as it crosses the block on Rarities Night.