1797 Liberty Cap Half Cent. C-3c. Rarity-6+. Low Head, Gripped Edge. Good-6 (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). At least three examples have had their weights recorded: 78.1 (the present example), 82.2 and 85.4 grains.Diameter: Approximately 23.5 mm.Die Variety: Cohen-3c, Breen-3b, Gilbert-Unlisted. Obv: Normal (i.e., not repunched) date with Libertys portrait placed low in the field. The point of the bust and end of the pole are very close to the border, the date seemingly crowded between the portrait and border. The digit 1 in the date is thick, and the letter Y in LIBERTY is repunched along its right side. This obverse also appears in the 1797 C-3a and 3b attributions. Rev: Single leaf at the top of each branch in the wreath, four 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. The letters UN in UNITED are closely spaced, the letters ICA in AMERICA are widely spaced. There is a leaf point below the center of the letter E in AMERICA. This reverse also appears in the Cohen-3b and 3c attributions.Cohen-3c corresponds to the Low Head, Gripped Edge <em>Guide Book</em> variety of the 1797 half cent.Die State: The paucity of survivors, combined with their universally low grade, precludes accurate die state work for this variety. Manley believes that all 1797 C-3c coins were struck between the C-3b (Lettered Edge) and C-3a (Plain Edge) coins, the die state of the Gripped Edge pieces presumably the same as Manley 3.0 of the C-3b attribution.Edge: Gripped. Breen (<em>Penny-Wise</em>, Vol. XV, No. 6, 1981) opines that the gripping was "the result of the technique used to stamp out the blanks, not from a deliberated attempt to imprint a design on the edge." Opinions differ, however, and neither the cause nor intent of the grip marks are known with certainty.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-6+: approximately 12 coins are known in all grades.Strike: The obverse is the sharper of this coins two sides, the border denticulation uniformly bold and Libertys portrait, the word LIBERTY and the date fully outlined and readily appreciable. The reverse is devoid of denticulation, the denomination HALF CENT is virtually illegible, and the lettering along the upper border is faint. Other features are bolder, the base of the wreath with its binding ribbon knot and bows the sharpest design elements on the reverse.Surfaces: Both sides exhibit attractive copper brown patina with good gloss. The coin is pleasingly smooth for the assigned grade with only a few tiny pits in and around the centers on both sides, and a concentration of faint pin scratches at and below the letters ER in LIBERTY on the obverse.Commentary: This edge variant of the 1797 C-3 dies was confirmed in the 19th century, with the discovery coin appearing in S.K. Harzfelds January 1881 sale of the H. Rogers Collection, lot 281. Another was offered in the 1907 sale of the great Matthew A. Stickney Collection, lot 1688. Today, just about a dozen examples exist in all grades, confirming this as the rarest half cent variety listed in the <em>Guide Book</em>. All known survivors show significant wear and/or surface problems. PCGS has certified just five examples in "straight graded" holders, the grades ranging from AG-3 to VG-10. Ira & Larry Goldbergs sale of the Missouri Cabinet Collection in January 2014 included two (!) examples, both certified by PCGS, one Fine Details and the other AG-3; the latter reappeared in our Spring 2019 Baltimore Auction, lot 1011. The present example was also part of the Missouri Cabinet at one time and, although it has better color and nicer surfaces than the aforementioned Fine Details coin, it is not as well detailed on both sides, and the edge grips are a bit less sharp. It was replaced by the Fine Details coin and eventually sold in the Goldbergs January 2011 Davy II sale. We stress, however, that the edge grips on this coin are quite bold overall and readily appreciable through the PCGS Tri-View holder.In the decades since its discovery, the 1797 C-3c has been eagerly sought by early copper enthusiasts. Only a few have succeeded in owning one. Among those who have not owned an example is noted numismatic expert and accomplished collector Jules Reiver. The present offering provides an opportunity for a fortunate bidder to join the select group of specialists that have been able to include a 1797 Gripped Edge half cent in their cabinets. From the ESM Collection. Earlier ex Loyd Whiteneck, August 1973; Sam Ungar, November 29, 1982; Ira & Larry Goldbergs sale of the Davy Collection of Half Cents, Part II, September 2011, lot 183.