1797 Liberty Cap Half Cent. C-2. Rarity-3. Centered Head, Plain Edge. EF-45 (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).Diameter: Approximately 23.5 mm.Die Variety: Cohen-2, Breen-2a, 2b, 2c, Gilbert-3. Obv: Normal (i.e., not repunched) date with Libertys portrait well centered in the field. A die defect protrudes from Libertys neck above the pole, described as a "wart" by Breen. This is the only use of this obverse die. 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-1 variety.Cohen-2 is the only die marriage of the Centered Head, Plain Edge <em>Guide Book</em> variety of the 1797 half cent.Die State: Manley reports only a single die state for the 1797 C-2 variety. Obv: Perfect. Rev: Inherited from later states of the 1797 C-2 pairing, the die 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-3: 200 to 600 coins in all grades.Strike: A well balanced, well struck example that is free of the softness seen at the letters ICA in AMERICA on some survivors from the 1797 C-2 dies. The obverse exhibits a universally broad, fully denticulated border around devices that are boldly to sharply rendered. Even the individual strands in Libertys hair are well delineated with just a touch of softness behind the ear and at the top of the head. The reverse is bold throughout the wreath, legend and denominations, the impression drawn trivially toward 1 oclock with lighter denticulation along the upper right border than elsewhere.Surfaces: Blended olive-copper and gray-brown patina is seen on both sides, the surfaces hard and tight. A few wispy handling marks on Libertys portrait are noted, as are some microscopic carbon flecks in the central reverse field, some faint hairlines and a trivially glossy texture. The amount of detail remaining suggests that PCGS net graded an otherwise About Uncirculated coin to EF-45 due to a light, ancient cleaning. All in all, however, this coin presents exceptionally well for a minimally circulated survivor of both the type and variety.Commentary: Most numismatic scholars concur that all 1797 C-2 half cents were struck in a single marriage after the Mint finished production of the 1797 C-1 variety. Indicative of the challenges that the early United States Mint faced in procuring suitable copper planchet stock, examples are known struck on rolled copper (Breen-2a), spoiled large cents (Breen-2b), and cut down Talbot, Allum & Lee cents (Breen-2c). With no evidence of an undertype, the present example corresponds to the Breen-2a attribution.The 1797 C-2, like most early half cent varieties, is typically encountered in lower grades through VF, and most are also impaired with dark, rough surfaces. Universally regarded as the finest known, the Cleneay-Mills-Bareford-Missouri Cabinet-Pogue specimen in PCGS MS-66 BN fetched $293,750 as lot 3011 in our February 2016 Pogue III sale. The attractive Choice EF offered here ranks among the finest realistically obtainable for most collectors, and it will be just right for a <em>Guide Book</em> variety set or specialized half cent cabinet. From the ESM Collection.