The first two decades of United States half cent production saw numerous design alterations, both purposeful and unintentional. Though several contemporary denominations exhibit similar diversity, half cents are intriguing in that these changes sometimes involved the often-overlooked third side of a coin, the edge. These distinct variations are both exciting and challenging for specialists of the series, and the 1795 half cent is certainly no exception.
The earliest 1795 half cents exhibited a lettered edge, but when the weight of the copper planchets was reduced late in the year it was decided to revert to a plain edge in order to accommodate the reduced thickness and avoid having to shrink the edge lettering. Though largely struck in 1796, these plain edge coins still employed 1795-dated dies and are considered part of that date’s coinage.
In addition to the two edges types, four distinct obverse types are determined by the presence of a pole projecting from Liberty’s neck and a die flaw after the first digit of the date, called the Punctuated Date. These four types are: Lettered Edge, With Pole; Lettered Edge, Punctuated Date; Plain Edge, Punctuated Date; and Plain Edge, No Pole. Each of these four variances is of similar rarity in circulated grades, with the Lettered Edge examples slightly scarcer above Extremely Fine.
The present Choice About Uncirculated example is of the Lettered Edge, With Pole variety, and approaches the high end of pieces certified by PCGS. Rich mahogany and chestnut patina is accented by very faint indigo hues and some deeper tobacco tones at the central obverse. The eye appeal and quality of preservation transcend the assigned grade in most respects. Expertly centered, the strike is uniform and sharp across all regions, imparting exceptional definition to the design elements and denticles on both sides. This beautiful representative of a prized issue is sure to elicit strong bidding activity from copper enthusiasts and earlier American type collectors alike.
This exceptional Liberty Cap half cent is just one of the many treasures to be featured in our November 2015 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. For more information, and to reserve your copy of the catalog, please visit StacksBowers.com or call our offices at 1-800-458-4646.