1797年半身像半鹰银币 PCGS VF 30
1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar. Small Eagle. O-101, T-1. Rarity-5. 15 Stars. VF-30 (PCGS). A superior survivor of this legendary Small Eagle type. The surfaces are overall glossy and smooth, with clouds of Mint luster remaining in the protected areas. Deep navy-blue and violet in the fields contrast the lighter peach shades across the high points. The central elements are nicely defined despite the typical softness at the right borders. Traceable back over 47 years to our sale of the Nate Smith Collection in March 1973 and not available for the first time in decades. This piece is positioned at #12 in the 2012 Amato census and it would fall just outside of the top 6 specimens ranked in Herrmans Autumn 2020 listing if it were included.
This lovely piece exemplifies the scarce earlier state of the O-101 dies, estimated to be about twice as rare as the later one by Tompkins. The obverse remains essentially prime, with inspection of the rim near star 2 revealing no sign of fracture. The reverse displays a crack from the rim down to the O of OF that is carried over from this dies previous employment in striking 1796-dated halves, though cracks proprietary to this pairing are sparse. A fracture is just beginning to descend down from the denticle above the first T in STATES.
The 1797 half dollar is a profoundly enigmatic issue whose intrigue is only overshadowed by its rarity. Echoing the symbolism portrayed by the flag of the United States, the earliest coins of the United States Mint depicted a star count that tried at best to mirror the number of states belonging to the Union at the time of striking. Fittingly so, the half dollars of 1794 and 1795 display 15 stars on the obverse-- a number justified by Kentuckys admission on June 1st 1792. In anticipation of 1796s half dollar mintage, officials prepared a 1796-dated 15-star die for use, though no half dollars were struck in said year. However, by the time mintage resumed in the beginning of 1797, Tennessee had already joined the Union on June 1st of 1796 and a 16-stars motif was appropriate. Never to be wasteful, the Mint employed this wrongly dated and wrongly starred obverse, eventually transitioning to a 1796-dated 16-star obverse by some other combination of misguidance. Then, most curiously, a third die was created to finish out the 1797 half dollar production year; properly dated 1797, though ornamented with just 15 stars on the obverse. Several theories and conjectures have emerged to explain how this blundered regression might have occurred, though whether terribly complex or astoundingly simple, the error in star-count for the 1797 Draped Bust half dollar has left numismatic scholars scratching their heads for the past two centuries.<p> From the Naples Bay Collection. Earlier ex our (Stacks) sale of the Nate Smith Collection, March 1973, lot 808. Amato# 312. From the Naples Bay Collection. Earlier ex our (Stacks) sale of the Nate Smith Collection, March 1973, lot 808. Amato# 312.