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Lustrous AU 1795 Flowing Hair Half to be featured in Rarities Night of our November 2016 Baltimore Auction

Lot
2083 in our Rarities Night session of the official auction of the Whitman Coin
& Collectibles November Expo is a gorgeous About Uncirculated 1795 Flowing
Hair half dollar. Half dollar production grew from 32,464 in 1794 to at least 299,680
pieces in 1795, employing 19 obverse dies and 22 reverse dies that combined to
create 31 known varieties. Two distinctly different portraits of Liberty were
depicted throughout the year, with the majority of the obverse dies portraying
the “Normal Head” featuring an aggressively curved truncation. However, three
obverse dies used that year, Overton’s obverses 15, 16 and 17 feature a stouter
portrait with a shallow truncation referred to as the “Small Head.” Scholars
long theorized that this more diminutive Liberty was the creation of Assistant
Engraver John Gardner and not Chief Engraver Robert Scot (traditionally
credited with the Flowing Hair motif). However, more recent research by Steve
Tompkins has pointed away from this assumption. A similar, though less dramatic
design alteration was also effected on the reverse midway through the
production year, though only on a single die, Overton’s reverse I.  On this die, there are three leaves on the
inside of the wreath beneath each of the eagle’s wings instead of the usual
two. This easy diagnostic combined with the overall scarcity of the feature has
made this variety (O-111) extremely desirable. 


Specialized
varieties aside, the 1795 issue as a whole remains both scarce and popular,
representing the second year and last year of production for the Flowing Hair
half dollar design type. Most often encountered in low circulated grades and
plagued by mishandling, the present AU piece is a truly significant offering
and will surely draw attention from type collectors and specialists alike.


An
example of the Normal Head, Two Leaves die pairing, the 1795 in our November
Baltimore sale displays light champagne iridescence at the centers with violet
and teal at the borders of both sides. The surfaces are nice and smooth, with
just the slightest friction in the prominent regions and an old, shallow mark
in the right obverse field visible under a glass. Considerable mint luster
remains in the protected areas throughout, adding to the overall attractiveness.


This
coin represents the later state of the O-105 dies, exhibiting the extensive die
cracks described under the O-105a state in the fifth edition of the Parsley
(Overton) reference. While the crack at the upper obverse rim hasn’t quite
descended below the B of LIBERTY, the stars at both the left and the right are
nicely linked. Curiously, the equivalent Tompkins attribution for the die
pairing, T-25, makes no mention of the crack from the rim progressing to a
point below the B, so perhaps this is worthy of further study.


This
AU 1795 half dollar will be showcased in lot 2083 of our official auction of
the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, as part of our Rarities
Night session on Thursday, November 3, 2016. 
To obtain your copy of the catalog or to consign your rarities to a
future showcase event, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646 to
speak with a Consignment Director and see what Stack’s Bowers Galleries can do
for you.


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