1797 50C MS (PCGS# 6060)
The September 2011 Philadelphia Americana Sale
Lot Number: 2853
View the Original Auction
1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar. O-101a. Rarity-4+. EF-45 (NGC). A lovely example of a coin that can be counted among the classic rarities of the Early American series, not only by date but type. It is one often missing from nice collections, and this piece is likely to be considered a highlight of just about any collection it enters. The surfaces are pleasant medium gray-silver, with faint champagne accents and some more deeply toned areas within the protected areas of the design. Overall, the visual appeal is solid, as the coin has just the appearance one would expect from a lightly circulated silver half dollar of the period. The strike exhibits slight unevenness, with a segment of the dentils being softly defined on each side, probably from a thinness of the planchet in this area as the softness is on both sides at the same position. Still, the design details are visible. A few ancient and light surface marks can be seen under magnification, but none are distracting in the least and these must be expected on a piece of this vintage and grade. This is a later state of the first of two die pairings for 1797, here with a small crack through the second star on the obverse easily seen. The reverse has begun to fully shatter, and likely had little life left at the time this piece was struck. It was later replaced by a new reverse to finish the small mintage. Just 3,918 coins are reported to have been struck of the small eagle type, including both varieties of 1796 (15 and 16 stars), as well as the 1797 issues. With so few coins produced, it is clear why this type is so challenging for collectors, particularly in nice grades as seen here. A lovely collector coin and an ideal grade to acquire as higher grade pieces are both prohibitively rare and expensive, while lower grade coins are simply just not as nice.