1796自由帽半美分 PCGS MS 66
1796 Liberty Cap Half Cent. Cohen-2. Rarity-4+. With Pole. MS-66 RB (PCGS). A Gem example of stunning originality, this is among the finest examples of the With Pole variety of the rarest date in the half cent series. This coin was discovered in England, apparently long unappreciated, and still maintains its unsophisticated and original appearance. Both sides glow with cartwheel luster, enlivening the halo of mint color that dominates the central obverse and has only barely faded to a blend of steel brown and mellowed red at the further reaches of the fields. The lustrous reverse shows less mint color, mostly confined to the area around the wreath, but its originality is intact, with light deposits still seen under magnification. While covering much of the surface inside the legends and among the details of the wreath, these deposits dont diminish the superb luster or the impressive eye appeal.
The reverse ranges from dark chocolate brown at the peripheries to deep peach and lighter salmon, with an area of deep olive patina among the denticles above C of AMERICA. The central obverse is particularly boldly struck, and the fine recutting that is apparent below the 9 of the date is evidence that this was struck from a very early die state, equivalent to Breens state I. The denticles on the obverse are somewhat soft, typical of the issue. No significant obverse marks are seen.
The reverse is likewise sharp, with long and well defined denticles at its base contrasting with softer, shorter ones atop that side, typical of the variety and showing the usual slight misalignment of the die. Two lintmarks are seen, one on the upper right serif of T in CENT, another on the leaf immediately below that letter. The die state of the reverse has not appreciably changed from its first short-lived use in the Cohen-1 marriage (using the No Pole obverse). Manley points out that the die states of the reverse are not distinct enough to inform a die emission sequence, but logically adds "the only rational reason to have used the severely cracked 1796 C-1 obverse die would have been if no other obverse die had been available." The obverse of this variety shows no evidence of failure and it must have come second.One of a tiny number of high grade examples that have survived, this specimen was discovered in England, the source of at least three other high grade 1796 With Pole half cents.
Two of the coins appeared on the market in the 1990s; another came from an otherwise commonplace collection from Salisbury, Wiltshire and sold at Woolley and Wallis in 2013. The Breen/Hanson census listed seven Uncirculated examples, at least one of which claimed English origin, as did an About Uncirculated piece that was offered in the 1969 R.L. Miles sale. One of those seven coins, the James A. Stack coin, was graded just Extremely Fine when sold in 1989, and it is possible that others wouldnt stand up to modern scrutiny as Uncirculated examples either. PCGS has issued a Mint State grade on eight occasions, including coins discovered after the publication of the Breen/Hanson census in 1983. This represents about 10% of the total population, a surprising proportion to have survived unworn. In the July 15, 1996, issue of <em>Penny-Wise,</em> Ron Manley published data collected by Del Bland indicating a confirmed population of 64 different 1796 With Pole half cents in all grades, plus an additional six that were known on good authority, making for a total population of approximately 70 pieces. That number may be 75 today.In 1879, Ed. Frossard wrote, "The half cents of this date, in good to fine condition, are by far the rarest of the series." Frossards intent was to point out the typical low grade of surviving specimens, as his "good to fine" aligns better to grades of perhaps Very Fine to Extremely Fine today. Little has changed in the last century and a quarter. Of the 50 total 1796 With Pole half cents graded by PCGS, fully half - 25 submissions - received grades of VG-10 or less. Many others are corroded, damaged, or otherwise flawed enough to preclude a numerical grade. A half cent collection is often judged by its 1796, but with a spirit of forgiveness in mind. An assemblage of half cents that tends to be in Extremely Fine grade will be excused for having a 1796 in Good. A collection whose typical grade is Mint State will find cheerful pardon if its 1796 half cent is graded Fine.
A specimen of this key date in a grade better than Very Fine is a monumental addition to any set. One in Uncirculated, though, is found in only the very finest cabinets. The D. Brent Pogue Collection specimen is among the very finest Mint State survivors of this classic issue.N5 From the D. Brent Pogue Collection. Earlier, from an "old English collection" to Alan Thomas (London); Gene Reale Collection, via Superior Galleries, by sale, 1992; Sothebys sale of the Gene Reale Collection, January 15, 1998, lot 4; John Whitney Walter Collection; our (Stacks) sale of the "Mr. 1796" John Whitney Walter Collection of The Coins of 1796, May 1999, lot 1707; our (Stacks) 65th Anniversary sale, October 2000, lot 23, our sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part III, February 2016, lot 3009. Pogue Collection lot tag included.