The D. Brent Pogue Collection

backSuperb Gem 1796 Half Dollar

Lot 1103
Incredible Gem 1797 Half Dollar

15 Stars on Obverse
Finest Graded by PCGS

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1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar. O-101a. Rarity-4+. 15 Stars. MS-66 (PCGS). When we cataloged this coin as part of the Lelan Rogers Collection in 1995 we described it in part as:

“Gem Brilliant Uncirculated…One of the finest known, quite possibly a candidate for Finest honors. This specimen is toned in beautiful, iridescent silver gray, pale blue, and rose-gold shades. The strike is sharp in the centers and the left sides of the obverse and reverse (the right stars are flat, as struck).”

Today perhaps 200 different specimens of the 1797 half dollar are known. Nearly all show extensive wear. Even a coin in Very Good or Fine grade will attract a lot of attention. In fact, the lot following the Lelan Rogers coin in our 1995 sale was another example of this date graded only About Good, and featured with a subhead “Significant 1797 Half Dollar.”

Of the known 1797 half dollars only a handful can claim Mint State status. Accordingly, the D. Brent Pogue Collection coin is of special importance. Mint State coins are very rare. This 1797 bears the ultimate PCGS grade. It is one of a kind. History will be made when it crosses the block.

This design made its appearance the year before, in 1796, featuring the Draped Bust obverse with the Small Eagle reverse. The reverse design, though still with a ‘‘small’’ eagle, is entirely different from that used on the 1794 and 1795 Flowing Hair coins that featured a bird with a shorter wing span and a more stocky appearance. The new reverse has a delicate, indeed graceful eagle at the center. The general motif followed that used on half dimes and dimes of 1796 and 1797, quarters of 1796, and silver dollars of 1795 to 1798.

Two varieties of 1796 half dollars were produced, one with 15 obverse stars and the other with 16. Two 1797 die combinations, each from the same 15-star obverse die, were produced. The total mintage for the two dates combined is believed to have been only 3,918 pieces, this being spread across four die varieties within those two dates. After this time no half dollars were made until 1801 when a new reverse design was used.

In order of rarity the 1796 with 16 stars is first, the 1797 is next, and the 1796 with 15 stars is third.

No more than a few hundred specimens exist of the 1796 and 1797 half dollar issues. As an example of one or the other dates is a necessity to complete a type set of United States coinage, they are in great demand.

Provenance: Possibly from the Carl Wurtzbach Collection; Barney Bluestone circa 1931; Judge Arthur F. Curtis (circa 1951); Charles French (possibly offered in French’s 47th Sale, October 1951); Abraham Hepner; Lelan Rogers; our sale of the Leland Rogers Collection, November 1995, lot 1251; Claude E. Davis, MD, Foxfire Collection.

Rarities Auction Accompanying The D. Brent Pogue Collection

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will be hosting an exclusive Rarities Auction, held in conjunction with The D. Brent Pogue Collection. We will be accepting limited consignments of United States and world coins and paper money, featured in a spectacular catalog reserved for the rarest of the rare. Special terms will apply. If you are interested in participating in this unique opportunity, please call 949-748-4849 or email us at [email protected].

Alternatively, you can fill out our online consignment form. Click here to view the form.