1795 Half Dollar - 1795 50C VF25 CAC. This very scarce 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar has wonderfully original and clean surfaces. The coin is graded VF25 by PCGS. It shows only slight wear on the hair above Liberty’s forehead and well defined and detailed hair down her neck. The grade is confirmed by CAC indicating that it is a premium quality piece and well within the designated grade range. The coin is toned light silver-grey with gunmetal blue and dark tan in the obverse field and hints of lavender on the portrait and the eagle. Darker toning outlines the portrait and most of the eagle and is also prominent at the coin’s edge.
Chief Engraver Robert Scot designed the Flowing Hair half dollar. It was issued from 1794 to 1795. It showed a portrait of Liberty facing right with her hair loosely tied behind her head. This feature evolved from the Flowing Hair Liberty portrait that was featured on Joseph Wright’s Libertas Americans Medal of 1783. Over time Liberty was turned to the right and was shown without the liberty pole and cap.
However, the basic idea of Liberty’s hair free flowing is similar to the earlier concept. Above her head is the word LIBERTY, and the date is below. There are fifteen stars in accord with the number of states that made up the Union in 1794, eight to the left and seven to the right. The reverse, which is similar to the Flowing Hair half dime and silver dollar, shows a perched eagle with wings spread looking to the right. A wreath tied with a bow encircles the eagle. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is in an arc around the eagle.
Except for its edge lettering, the coin has no denomination-- something that might appear as a sign of ineptitude on the part of early Mint employees to someone familiar with United States coinage of the 21st century. The omission was intentional, however, as United States coinage was new to the world market of the 18th century and the term “half dollar” would have been unfamiliar to merchants of the day. Like European coinage of the time, silver and gold pieces were valued by their weight and fineness so the denomination was largely irrelevant. The edge was lettered FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR with decorative designs in between the words.
Prior to the issuance of silver coinage, only copper coins were made because neither the Chief Coiner Henry Voigt, nor the Assayer Albion Cox, could post the $10,000 bond required to be responsible for gold and silver. Thomas Jefferson recommended to President Washington that this bond requirement be reduced. Washington agreed, and in 1794 Scot was able to produce a die for the cent, half dollar, and the dollar coins. Since there was no standardized hubbing, individual punches were used for numbers, letters, the stars, and leaf punches.
The coin’s variety is Overton 104 for Al C. Overton who wrote Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794 – 1836. The 104 variety has an R4 Rarity rating which means that it is very scarce with 81 to 200 pieces known. The PCGS and CAC population reports are not useful because they do not list this variety; however, NGC lists many of the 1795 half dollar die varieties.
In its population report, there are only 4 Overton 104s listed in VF condition with 4 better.
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