US Coins

New obverse die for 1795 Flowing Hair half dollar discovered

The first new major variety of 1795 Flowing Hair half dollar reported in more than nine decades, produced from a previously unknown obverse die, has been confirmed by Professional Coin Grading Service.

The discovery coin is being recognized as Overton 133, attributed according to Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794–1836 by Al C. Overton with subsequent revised editions by Donald L. Parsley.

“The new die marriage was discovered by an advanced Early and Capped Bust half dollar collector who wishes to remain anonymous at this time,” says Centennial, Colorado, coin dealer W. David Perkins from W. David Perkins Numismatics.

Perkins submitted the discovery coin to PCGS, which confirmed the new variety and assigned the grade of Fine 15.

The grading label also includes the designation that the piece is the O-133 discovery coin. Perkins will be offering the O-133 1795 Flowing Hair, half dollar for sale.

“This newly identified die marriage is significant as there has been only one other 1795 Flowing Hair half dollar die marriage discovered since the Haseltine Type Table Sale in 1881,” Perkins says. “And that new marriage, 1795 O-132, was discovered prior to the 1929 Beistle half dollar book being published.”

Haseltine refers to prominent Philadelphia numismatist John Haseline. The 1929 reference by M.L. Beistle is Register of Half Dollar Die Varieties and Sub-Varieties.

The new discovery means only one collector would be able to assemble a collection of 109 die varieties of Flowing Hair and Draped Bust half dollars pre-dating the Capped Bust series.

Flowing Hair Half dollars were struck dated 1794 and 1795. The other early half dollars were Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollars dated 1796 and 1797, and Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle half dollars dated 1801 to 1807, inclusive.

Shared history

The 1795 Flowing Hair, O-133 discovery half dollar exhibits a Two Leaves Reverse.

Perkins said the reverse die for the O-133 coin is an earlier die state of the same die used to execute the O-122 die marriage. The O-122 is a Rarity 5 variety, with 40 or so examples known, according to Perkins.

Perkins provided the following narrative for the diagnostics to identify the O-133 die marriage based on the format followed in the Overton reference:

Obverse 20: S1LH, S8UE, S9UH, S15C — Similar to obverse 13, but star to dentil alignments differ. Star 1 barely pierces the curl. Star 15 joined to bust at upper end of same. T in LIBERTY is tipped left (left base of T is lower than base of R and right base of T is higher than the base of Y. Obverse 20 is previously unknown obverse die. Dentil count is 108.

Reverse N-s2: A1B, A2B, A3B — Same as N, (see No. 117), except there is a light die crack from edge down through M, across left base of E, end of wing and base of A to edge below right ribbon. On 122, this die crack develops into a heavy die crack.

The emission sequence for the use of the 1795 N reverse die is O-121, O-117, O-120, O-133 and O-122, according to Perkins.

This article was updated on July 3.

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