DESCRIPTION Monumental Key Date 1796 With Pole Half Cent
The Pogue SpecimenTied for Finest Certified1796 Liberty Cap Half Cent. Cohen-2. Rarity-4+. With Pole. MS-66 RB (PCGS).
A Gem example of stunning originality, this is among the finest examples of the With Pole variety of the rarest date in the half cent series. Both sides glow with cartwheel luster, enlivening the halo of mint color that dominates the central obverse and has only barely faded to a blend of steel brown and mellowed red at the further reaches of the fields. The lustrous reverse shows less mint color, mostly confined to the area around the wreath, but its originality is intact, with light deposits still seen under magnification. The reverse ranges from dark chocolate brown at the peripheries to deep peach and lighter salmon, with an area of deep olive patina among the denticles above C of AMERICA.
The central obverse is particularly boldly struck, and the fine recutting that is apparent below the 9 of the date is evidence that this was struck from a very early die state, equivalent to Breen's state I. The denticles on the obverse are somewhat soft, typical of the issue. No significant obverse marks are seen. The reverse is likewise sharp, with long and well defined denticles at its base contrasting with softer, shorter ones atop that side, typical of the variety and showing the usual slight misalignment of the die.
In 1879, Ed. Frossard wrote, "The half cents of this date, in good to fine condition, are by far the rarest of the series." Little has changed in the last century and a quarter. Of the 56 total 1796 With Pole half cents graded by PCGS, fully half - 28 submissions - received grades of VG-10 or less. Many others are corroded, damaged, or otherwise flawed enough to preclude a numerical grade.
One of a tiny number of high grade examples that have survived, this specimen was discovered in England, the source of at least three other high grade 1796 With Pole half cents. Two of the coins appeared on the market in the 1990s; another came from an otherwise commonplace collection from Salisbury, Wiltshire and sold at Woolley and Wallis in 2013. The Breen/Hanson census listed seven Uncirculated examples, at least one of which claimed English origin, as did an About Uncirculated piece that was offered in the 1969 R.L. Miles sale. The D. Brent Pogue Collection specimen is among the very finest Mint State survivors of this classic issue.PCGS# 35099. http://www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Coin/Detail/35099
PCGS Population: 3, none finer.Ex our sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part VII, March 2020, lot 7005.