Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 62

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Lot 1413

1796. 16 stars. PCGS graded MS-64. Well struck with gorgeous reflective surfaces throughout. Only 1 finer which is graded MS66 in a Texas collection. The finest example we have ever handled in 50 years. The gorgeous Mint State coin offered in this sale is part of the illustrious, and very rare draped bust, small eagle series of early half dollar. This Type consists of only two dates, 1796 and 1797, each of which is represented by two die varieties. The 1796 issue with 15 obverse stars is Overton 101, that with 16 stars is categorized as Overton 102. The 16 stars coin was said to be made after the admission of Tennessee to the Union on June 1, 1796. Tennessee became the 16th state, hence, 16 stars.

Curiously, all 1796 and 1797 half dollars are thought to have been minted in 1797 as part of three deliveries. Mint records show that the first delivery was made on February 28, 1797 (60 coins), the second delivery on March 21 (874 coins), and the final one on May 26 (2,984 coins). Breen (Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins), makes the assumption that the February delivery contained those with 15 stars; while the coins minted in March included some 1796 with 15 stars and others with 16 stars (Later production in May consisted mostly of 1797-dated pieces but may have included the last of the 1796's with 16 stars.)

Fewer than 4,000 small eagle half dollars were struck in 1796 and 1797 combined. Of these, no more than 5% exist in collectors' hands or in museum collection, the vast majority of which show extensive wear, often with retooling or plug-filled holes. This piece compares favorably with the very best survivors, and it is not far removed from the finest 1796 half dollar, the MS-66 graded by PCGS that now resides in a well known collection that may never be sold. A shimmering, pewter-gray to steel toned coin radiating mint prooflike glow on gorgeous almost medallic-gem quality silver surfaces. There are some adjustment marks criss-crossing the eagle's breast. Sharp detail on all devices is typical for this issue; however, with present Mint State 64 we see a wonderful crisp strike found on the stars, hair curls, and Liberty's drapery. The eagle, barring the inconstancies of the adjustment lines, shows great depth of detail, as do the supporting branches of the wreath, with laurel represented at the left, and a palm branch on the right. A marvel of preservation! Pop 1; 1 better in 66. Only 2 Mint State examples graded by PCGS (PCGS # 6058) .
Estimated Value $300,000-UP.
Ex: ANR's 3/2004 Haig Koshkarian Collection.

Realized $345,000

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