1797 50C MS (PCGS# 6060)
The November 2011 Baltimore Auction
Lot Number: 2241
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Medium steel gray with lighter highlights. No heavy marks assail the unassisted eye, and low magnification reveals much the same scenario. Light traces of olive, violet and blue toning are noted near the rims, adding to the overall eye appeal. A very pleasing example of this classic American rarity. Obverse die crack from rim through star 2 to curl; two reverse cracks, one from the rim at 9 o'clock through the wreath to the eagle’s dexter wing, and another from the rim above O downward across the wreath to the eagle's sinister wing. Easily the most important of all half dollar design types, the Draped Bust, Small Eagle die combination appeared in just two years, 1796 and 1797, and a combined total of just 3,918 pieces were struck--that figure includes the 15 Stars and 16 Stars varieties of 1796 as well as the 1797, as offered here. Whenever conversations turn to rarities in the half dollars denomination, more often than not the issues of 1796-1797 are among the first dates mentioned. Indeed, perhaps just the 1838-O Capped Bust half dollar rarity is more coveted within the denomination; it too is one of the great classic rarities in U.S. coinage. We suspect the bidding for this lot will be fast and furious, as most bidders will have done their homework and formulated a bid that is in the running before this classic rarity even crosses the auction block. Bid as though you mean it and this VF-25 1797 half dollar will take its rightful place in your type set or early half dollar cabinet.