Despite issues, 1796 Draped Bust half brings $42,300
- Published: May 17, 2016, 8 AM
The Very Fine grade has the widest range of numerical grades in the 1 to 70 Sheldon scale that serves as the basis for grading coins today. Grades can range from Very Fine 20 to 35, with the next grade being Extremely Fine 40. It’s a tricky grade in today’s marketplace: well-circulated, but not entry-point; nicely detailed, but with virtually no luster. Here are three Very Fine coins that sold at Heritage’s recent Central States Numismatic Society auction in Schaumburg, Ill.
1796 Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar, Very Fine Details, Plugged and Tooled
The Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollars of 1796 and 1797 represent the rarest silver U.S. type coin with a total mintage of just 3,918 pieces, of which around 300 are known today. Despite the issue’s longtime rarity, unrecorded examples occasionally turn up.
COIN VALUES: How much is your 1796 Draped Bust half dollar worth?
Jon Amato’s 2012 book The Draped Bust Half Dollars of 1796–1797 listed all then-known examples, and the one offered at CSNS, graded Very Fine details, Plugged and Tooled, by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., is a new discovery since the book’s publication. It has Very Fine details, but a hole at 12 o’clock relative to the obverse has been plugged, with details re-engraved accordingly. It is the 16 Obverse Stars variety (another 1796 half dollar variety has 15 obverse stars) and the obverse shows a die crack from the rim through the first four stars, which identifies it as a late die state.
Despite the problems, it sold for $42,300.
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