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Choice Very Fine 1796 Half Dollar Rarity Anchors Our Premiere October 2014 PNG Invitational Auction Event

By Frank Van Valen, Numismatist & Cataloger, U.S. Coins

Author: Frank Van Valen / Thursday, August 07, 2014 / Categories: United States Coin of the Week

Keep your schedule open from October 9 to 11, 2014, when Stack’s Bowers Galleries will present our premiere PNG Auction event. The Professional Numismatists Guild has been a part of American numismatics for over half a century, and the reputations both of the organization and of the individuals who make up the prestigious group represent the epitome of numismatic professionalism. Stack’s Bowers has staff members, notably Q. David Bowers and Harvey Stack, who have been PNG members since the its inception way back in the 1950s! We are honored to be a part of the first-ever PNG Invitational Auction to be held in New York City in October.

One of the very first consignments to this event is a classic among American rare coins, a 1796 half dollar with 16 Stars Reverse graded VF-35 by PCGS. Something on the order of 100 to 125 or so examples can be accounted for today in all grades from AG-3 right up into the Mint State range, and any example is considered collectable by today’s specialists, even examples with problems. The offered 1796 half dollar is pleasing golden-gray with definitive lilac-gray highlights throughout. Marks are virtually non-existent, and the design details are fairly crisp for the type.

The half dollar denomination began in 1794 with the advent of the Flowing Hair design type that lasted through 1795. In 1796 and 1797 the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design was used, and both years are considered to be among America’s premier rarities, especially within the denomination. For the first time the denomination was present on the coin, represented in 1796 and 1797 by a small fraction, 1/2, below the reverse wreath. These were the first US silver coins to bear a denomination on anything other than the edge. After 1797, no half dollars were struck until 1801, and those were of a different style altogether.

The offered 1796 half dollar is so fresh to the market that it has yet to be cataloged, and is currently on display in Rosemont, Illinois at the annual ANA World’s Fair of Money, along with numerous other rarities that will be presented in our October 2014 PNG catalog. For information about consigning to the October 2014 PNG Premiere Invitational Auction, please contact us at 800-566-2580 (East Coast) or 800-458-4646 (West Coast).