Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 48

Lot 1214

1796 Draped Bust Half Dollar. 15 stars. . O-101. PCGS graded EF-40. Well struck on a smooth problem-free planchet. The surfaces are a uniform lilac-grey with lighter highlights around the protected areas. We note a minor die crack from the drapery of the bust thru the denticles as typically found. A beautifully balanced example of this elusive type coin.

The single most desirable American type coin, offered in choice, impairment-free Extremely Fine grade. Better still, with excellent eye appeal. Delightful original surfaces that retain a trace of their natural look and color. The coin is well centered and carefully made, only affected by a very few light adjustment marks through one cloud on the reverse. The stars are mostly flat although some show residual evidence of their earlier radial lines. As noted there is a die break that extends from the rim below the bust, through the drapery and connecting a couple of the stars on the right. In sum, the eye appeal is extraordinary.

Collectors reading their Red Book for the first time discover that the Small Eagle reverse, Draped Bust half dollar was minted only in 1796 and 1797. In those two years a minuscule mintage reached circulation: only 3,918 pieces were struck of the entire type. We would estimate that there are fewer than 200 specimens of the entire type available for collecting. We would further make the prediction that only 80 examples of the 1796 exist in all grades, with about half being the 15 Stars variety. Any type collector can strive to own a Small Eagle specimen, but for those who make the decision to own a specimen this choice, we would say that everyone will ever look upon this attractive EF40 coin with approval once acquired. Pop 3 with 12 finer; 2 in 45, 1 in 53, 4 in 55, 2 in 58, 2 in 63, 1 in 64. (PCGS # 6057) .

Historic note: The portrait of Liberty is after a drawing by Gilbert Stuart, modeled by Mrs. William Bingham (nee Ann Willing), Philadelphia socialite reputed to be one of the most beautiful women of her day, according to the author of the Breen encyclopedia: "John Eckstein is credited with the eagle; the palm branches were originally a compliment to Mint Director DeSaussure's South Carolina homeland, but by the time these half dollars were made, the device was an anachronism, as DeSaussure had long since resigned."
Estimated Value $80,000 - 90,000.


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