Skip to main content

Early half in July sale

In Heritage Auction Galleries
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

It may be flawed, but that doesn?t mean it isn?t valuable.

In Heritage Auction Galleries? next Signature Auction July 17-20 in Dallas, one of the highlights is a 1797 half dollar, graded XF-45 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. The piece could have significant value to certain collectors.

?This is a fabulous coin for the collector seeking to complete a type set of U.S. coinage or a collection of early half dollars,? said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage.

?Better-grade examples such as this do not come along that frequently. Moreover, extant pieces of this design type are often found with impairments of one kind or another. We expect, therefore, that this piece will receive considerable attention from advanced numismatists.?

Consisting of a Draped Bust Liberty on the obverse and a Small Eagle on the reverse, this design type, along with its 1796-dated companion, is one of the keys to the entire United States type series, according to Rohan.

Rohan says the 1797 half dollar is sometimes considered a transitional piece between the Flowing Hair motif on the half dimes, half dollars and dollars dated 1794 and 1795, and the Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle design on the half dimes (1800-1805), dimes (1798-1807), quarters (1804-1807), half dollars (1801-1807) and dollars (1798-1803).

?The Draped Bust Small Eagle half dollar series was produced with three obverse and two reverse dies,? explains Rohan. ?The first reverse die was paired with all three obverse dies, including the 1796 15-stars, the 1796 16-stars, and the 1797. During its use with the 1797 obverse, it developed numerous cracks, and was replaced with a new reverse die. The coin presented in our upcoming auction exhibits the cracked reverse die state, Overton-101a.?

Describing the 1797 piece, Rohan said, ?This problem-free, Choice XF example displays pleasing light silver-gray patination imbued with traces of gold-beige and powder-blue. The design elements retain nice detail, with most of Liberty?s hair strands and the eagle?s wing feathers showing; the eagle?s torso, legs, and neck are somewhat smooth. Most of the dentilation is strong, and is visible on both sides.?

Rohan noted a few blemishes, including some faint pinscratch-like marks on Liberty?s portrait that can be seen under high magnification.

He added that these flaws do not distract, and may serve as pedigree markers. No adjustment marks are seen on either side.

Images, descriptions, and prices realized from all of Heritage?s previous auctions are available in the Permanent Auction Archives at the Heritage website,

To reserve a catalog for any upcoming Heritage auction, contact Nicole Jewell by calling (800) 872-6467, ext. 272, or by writing to her c/o Heritage Auction Galleries, 3500 Maple Avenue, 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219.