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DRAPED BUST, SMALL EAGLE REVERSE HALF DOLLAR (1796-1797)

1796 Half Dollar

1796 Half Dollar

1796 Half Dollar - There are two main varieties of the 1796 Half Dollar, the 15 and 16 Stars. Less than 100 pieces are known for the 15 Stars and less than 50 are known for the 16 Stars. Combined population reports for certified coins show 70 for the 15 Stars variety and 33 for the 16 Stars. These numbers are for all grades and do not account for resubmissions and crossovers. Known as the Scot-Eckstein Draped Bust/Small Eagle, they are among the most elusive of United States circulation strikes. Despite their date, they were delivered in 1797.

The extra star variety commemorates the addition of Tennessee to the Union. Initially part of North Carolina, Tennessee was admitted on June 1, 1796, which was anticipated by the additional star being added or followed by the new star. The portrait is modeled on a drawing by the famous artist Gilbert Stuart. Mrs. William Bingham was the model. She was a Philadelphia socialite and one of the most beautiful women of her time. John Eckstein was responsible for the eagle motif of the reverse. The palm branches of the wreath are a compliment to Mint Director DeSaussure who was from South Carolina; however, by the time the coins of this design were made, he had resigned his position.

DeSaussure wished to place gold coinage in circulation and to improve the design of the other denominations especially silver. This desire is the reason he engaged Gilbert Stuart to submit a drawing for the new dollar obverse. However, in 1795 DeSaussure resigned his position because of illness and hostility from Congress. Many of the lawmakers wanted to abolish the Mint and continue the practice of using copper coins made at British token factories and foreign silver and gold coins. Elias Boudinot became the next Mint Director after DeSaussure.

Specifications:
Designer: Robert Scot
Weight: 13.48 grams
Composition: .8924 silver, .1076 copper
Diameter: approximately 32.5 mm
Edge: FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR with decorations between

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1796 Half Dollar - Information about 1796 Half Dollar and Half Dollars


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