1797 Liberty Cap Half Cent. C-1. Rarity-2. 1 Above 1, Plain Edge. MS-62 BN (PCGS). Type: Type III: Liberty Cap, Head Right, Small Head.Design: Obv: A head of Liberty with flowing hair faces right, a liberty cap and pole behind. The word LIBERTY is inscribed along the upper border and the date 1797 is below. The portrait on Liberty Cap half cents dated 1795 to 1797 is noticeably smaller than for the Head Right issue of 1794, and it constitutes a distinct type. Rev: A wreath surrounds the denomination HALF CENT, the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the border and another expression of the denomination, 1/200, below. A ribbon knot with double bow binds the base of the wreath.Weight Standard: 84 grains (5.44 grams). Manley reports a range of 82 to 95 grains for most examples surveyed, with an average weight of 87 grains, although the weight of the present example was reported as 76.4 grains in Ira & Larry Goldbergs February 2014 sale of the Missouri Cabinet.Diameter: Approximately 23.5 mm.Die Variety: Cohen-1, Breen-1a, 1b, 1c, Gilbert-4. Obv: This obverse, in its only known pairing, is readily identifiable by the presence of an errant 1 punched entirely above the first digit 1 in the date. Close inspection with a loupe reveals several dot-like die defects in the field above the digits 797, and there is also a more prominent die scratch through the bottom of the cap. Rev: Single leaf at the top of each branch in the wreath, five berries on the left branch, three on the right branch; there is a berry on the left side of the bow, but not on the right side. There is a die scratch above the left corner of the letter I in UNITED that slants up to the right. The same die as that used for the 1797 C-2 variety.Cohen-1 is the only die marriage of the 1 Above 1, Plain Edge <em>Guide Book</em> variety of the 1797 half cent.Die State: Manley 5.0, described as "very scarce" by the author. Obv: Shattered with numerous cracks, the tip of Libertys nose weak, the letters RTY in LIBERTY weak to illegible, and several areas of swelling throughout the field. Rev: The aforementioned obverse die swell has resulted in an area of noticeable softness over the lower right, the letter I in AMERICA weak, the letters CA absent, and the leaves at the lower right wreath faint to absent. The die is cracked from the border below the digit 2 in the denomination, through the top of the letters UN in UNITED, to the die scratch above the adjacent I.Edge: Plain.Mintage: The <em>Guide Book</em> provides a mintage of 127,840 coins for all varieties of the 1797-dated issue. These were delivered over an extended period of time:-Spring 1797: 107,048 coins-Spring 1799: 12,170 coins-April 29, 1800: 5,750 coins-May 16, 1800: 2,872 coinsBreen asserts that some of the 12,356 coins delivered on June 5, 1800, may also have been from 1797-dated dies, although this delivery is not included in the mintage estimated in the <em>Guide Book</em>.No half cents were struck from either 1798- or 1799-dated dies.Estimated Surviving Population for the Issue: 1,100 to 3,425 coins in all grades.Estimated Surviving Population for the Die Variety: Rarity-2: 600 to 2,000 coins in all grades.Strike: This is a well struck coin where allowed by the advanced die state. The sharpest details on the obverse are the date (including the errant 1), the cap, pole, left half of the word LIBERTY and Libertys hair, in which most individual strands are crisply delineated. On the reverse both denominations are bold, as is the legend save for the letters ICA in AMERICA, and the wreath apart from the area at the lower right.Surfaces: Blended medium brown and pale rose patina dominates this handsome coin. A few faint carbon spots are evident on the obverse over and above Libertys head and on the cap. There are few marks of note, those in the upper right obverse field and over the lower right reverse represent original planchet roughness that the late die state was unable to obliterate in the press. There is a light scuff at the lower right reverse border, as well as evidence of light smoothing at 2 to 3 oclock and 7 to 9 oclock on the obverse border, more extensive smoothing along the reverse border outside the letters TATE in STATES. The Missouri Cabinet cataloger opined that the smoothing may have been done to "improve" a planchet flaw.Commentary: The famed 1 Above 1 die error is perhaps the boldest die punching error in the entire U.S. coinage series. The top 1 is thinner and lacks bottom serifs, indicating at least some attempt to efface it, but no great effort was put into its removal. Ed. Frossard, writing in 1879, seems to have mistaken it for a die break, perhaps incredulous that such an remarkable error could have been left in the die. Most specimens of this variety are struck over cut-down Talbot, Allum & Lee (T.A.L.) tokens, Breens 1c attribution. Though this example shows no evidence of any undertype, this does not necessarily indicate a virgin planchet was used. In fact, Manley asserts that most, if not all of the coins that Breen attributes as 1a (rolled copper planchet stock) are simply examples that show no evidence of the T.A.L. undertype. (The extremely rare and unconfirmed B-1b attribution corresponds to planchet stock derived from cut down spoiled cents.) While Manley uses the weight range of 82 to 95 grains from his sample to confirm the cut down T.A.L. token stock for most of this issue, it is interesting that the present example weighs appreciably less at 76.4 grains.C-1 is the most available 1797 half cent die marriage and the only one corresponding to the 1 Above 1, Plain Edge <em>Guide Book</em> variety. As such, examples are eagerly sought among type collectors. The surviving population of high grade coins is generous by the standards of the Liberty Cap series, but most are in EF and AU grades. Indeed, while this variety is relatively commonplace in circulated grades, it is rare in Mint State. An impressive provenance enhances the desirability of this highly significant specimen. From the ESM Collection. Earlier ex Lloyd Whiteneck, May 10, 1973; R. Tettenhorst; Missouri Cabinet; Ira & Larry Goldbergs sale of the Missouri Cabinet, January 2014, lot 42.