Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 37

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Lot 1454

1795 Flowing Hair Half Dime. NGC graded LM-10, V-4, Rarity-3. MS-67 Star. Well struck with wonderful blue and golden toning. A great coin and worthy for the finest type set. A stunning gem specimen of this type, one of the very finest Flowing Hair half dimes in existence. Frosty silver gray surfaces are overlaid with exceptionally attractive shades of bright blue and deep violet on the obverse in a nice kaleidoscope display, while the reverse shows the same color scheme with the addition of light champagne gold. The luster is satiny and complete. Careful scrutiny with a magnifying glass reveals no marks of note whatsoever, suggesting very careful handling since 1795. It is probable that this piece, and the handful of other nice Mint State pieces of this date and die pair in particular, trace their lineage to the Rea Hoard, a group of 1795 half dimes that was dispersed by W. Elliot Woodward beginning prior to 1864. As described in Dave Bowers' book American Coin Treasures and Hoards, "In 1795, a Roxbury, Massachusetts lady named Rea is said to have received a 'little hoard' of glittering new half dimes of the date as a birthday present." Perhaps a couple dozen of this pieces have survived, most admittedly quite nice, often grading in the Mint State 64 to Mint State 65 range. The specimen in the Oliver Jung Collection was undoubtedly from the same group. It was untoned and graded Mint State 66 by PCGS. This piece is tied for the very finest of the date and the entire type graded by NGC. It deserves a place in the collection of an advanced numismatists who appreciates its unusual story of preservation, its glorious toning, and its residency near the summit of the list of survivors of the Flowing Hair type. (NGC serial number 1893659-001. Pop 5; none finer; tied for finest.

Diagnostics for LM-10, Valentine-4: This variety is instantly recognized by a glance at the reverse, where a leaf is merged with the base of the I in AMERICA. The obverse has heavy clash marks while the reverse has cracks through D to the wreath, and from the rim to the right stem, wreath, and eagle's tail. There is a rim cud at TY of LIBERTY joining the nearby star.

Historic note: We can thank the Breen encyclopedia of U.S. coins for its insightful history of the flowing hair half dimes of 1794-95. For uncertain reasons, the Birch design used on the 1792 half dime was discarded in favor of the flowing hair design found on the dollar, half dollar, and copper coins of 1794.

Little is known of the accepted design's origins. Mint engraver Robert Scot apparently copied it from the cents, omitting the liberty cap; but it is reminiscent of Joseph Wright's original 1793 Liberty cap cent design only in the same way that the Lincoln Memorial on the present-day cent is reminiscent of the actual building. These heads were mostly engraved until well into 1795 as Scot did not at the outset know how to make a device punch, and one that he finally did make for half dimes broke at the tip of the bust.

His attempt to make these half-dime designs match the larger silver coins reflects a Mint policy which became standard for over a century: All gold coins should share a common design, all silver another, all copper a third (preferably like the silver but minus the eagle). Mint Director David Rittenhouse derived this policy from British and French coins of the period.
Estimated Value $90,000 - 110,000.


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