1803 Draped Bust Half Cent. C-1. Rarity-1. MS-63 BN (PCGS). CAC. Type: Type IV: Draped Bust.Design: Obv: A draped bust of Liberty faces right, her hair tied with a ribbon. The word LIBERTY is above and the date 1803 is below. Rev: Design of 1802 to 1808. 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). According to Manley, examples of this date that have been weighed range from 80 to 89 grains, with an average of 85 grains.Diameter: 23.5 mm.Die Variety: Cohen-1, Breen-1, Gilbert-2. Obv: The digits in the date are evenly spaced, and the top of the letters TY in LIBERTY nearly touch. The digit 3 in the date is repunched over a large 3, a loupe revealing faint remnants of the underdigit at the upper left corner of the primary digit. Early die state examples also show traces of the underdigit below and to left of the primary 3. The letter T is footless, but vestigial feet have been added to the die by hand. This die was earlier used in the 1803 C-2 pairing, later in the 1803 C-4 pairing. Rev: Single leaf at the top of the left branch in the wreath, double leaf at the top of the right branch in the wreath; there are five berries on each branch. A heavy die scratch joins the right end of the fraction bar to the ribbon, the top of the letter U in UNITED is closed. The digit punch for the letter Ts in the legend is defective with no feet, although vestigial feet have been added by hand. This is the only use of this reverse die.Die State: Manley 3.0. Obv: Die bulge has resulted in halo-like swelling around Libertys portrait, the field also with faint flowlines. The border denticulation is weak, yet essentially complete. Rev: A bisecting crack extends from the border outside the first letter T, through both branches of the wreath, to the border outside the letter M in AMERICA. Within the wreath this crack goes through the top of the letter F in HALF. A branch from this crack splits off between the letters LF in HALF and arcs down through the letter F, the letters EN in CENT, the lower left part of the wreath and the letter N in UNITED before terminating at the border. Lighter cracks are evident at the top of the letters MER in AMERICA and ITED in UNITED. Border denticulation is weak.Edge: Plain.Mintage: Government records report a mintage of 97,900 half cents for calendar year 1803, although the actual mintage from 1803-dated dies is significantly greater, albeit unknown. The 1803 C-4 variety, which shares its reverse die with the 1805 C-2, was struck in 1805, its mintage included in the Mints deliveries for that calendar year. Additional 1803-dated half cents were probably struck during calendar year 1804. Estimated Surviving Population for the Issue: 2,850 to 4,225 or more coins in all grades.Estimated Surviving Population for the Die Variety: Rarity-1: 2,000 or more coins in all grades.Strike: This is a very well defined coin for the die state; both sides have at least a trace of denticulation in most areas around the borders. The bow and lower part of the wreath are a bit blunt, typical of this die pairing, but all other features on that side are boldly to sharply rendered. The obverse is sharper overall, despite die swell in the field, the individual strands of Libertys hair are well defined and the drapery lines crisp.Surfaces: Gorgeous satin surfaces are hard and tight with plenty of rich gloss. Dominant golden-copper patina is seen on both sides, and swirls of warmer gray-brown are evident at the right obverse border and, especially, on the reverse between the words STATES and OF and at the letters TE in UNITED. The overall appearance is smooth and appealing, solidly in the Choice Mint State category. A pair of tiny carbon spots in the left obverse field and a faint graze above Libertys bust are mentioned as provenance markers.Commentary: Numismatic scholars have identified four die marriages of the 1803-dated half cent issue, one of which (C-4) was struck in 1805. Contrary to what both Cohen and Breen believed, Manley states conclusively that C-2 was the first variety struck for this date, followed by C-1, represented here. Cohen-1 vies with C-3 as the most plentiful die marriage of this issue, and a small number of Mint State coins are known for both varieties. D. Brent Pogue selected one of the C-1s to represent the 1803 half cent; that coin is certified PCGS MS-64+ BN and realized just shy of $10,000 in our March 2017 Pogue V sale. Jim McGuigans C-1 is also noteworthy in PCGS MS-64 RB; interestingly, the Missouri Cabinet specimen is an Unc Details--Cleaned.Firmly in the second tier for quality and eye appeal among extant 1803 C-1 half cents, the beautiful Choice Mint State example from the ESM Collection will be just right for a high quality type set or advanced half cent cabinet. From the ESM Collection. Earlier from Heritages Pittsburgh, PA Signature Sale, August 2004, lot 5059.