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1796 Draped Bust Dollar

Small Date, Small Letters


Variety BB-63, B-2 - NGC AU58

  Obverse: Variety BB-63, B-2 - NGC AU58

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Reverse: Variety BB-63, B-2 - NGC AU58

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The Year 1796 saw a continuation of the Draped Bust design from 1795.  However, in this case, the production employed 4 different obverse dies and 4 different reverse dies, combining to create 6 different individual die varieties.  These are distinguished by the size of the numerals of the date, being either "small" or "large," and the size of the letters in the reverse legend, also found in either "small" or "large" sizes.  The combinations of date size and letter size result in 3 major types: small date/small letters, small date/large letters, and large date/small letters.

The Small Date/Small Letters sub-type is unquestionably the scarcest of the year, especially in high grade.  This is undoubtedly due in part to the re-use of the (now weakened) small lettered reverse die first used in 1795, along with the poorer quality of silver available for coining.  Consequently, the typical specimen will show weakness of strike and generally poor surface luster.

At AU58, the Cardinal Collection specimen ranks as one of the very finest known of the sub-type, as neither service has ever graded a mint-state specimen.  The coin bears an illustrious provenance, tracing to the collections of Newcomer, Newcomb, Col. Green, Clarke, Bareford, and Whitney.

Though with some isolated areas of weakness, the Cardinal specimen displays a strike really quite sharp for a small date/small letters coin: all of Liberty's hair is fully brought up, most of the obverse stars are raised up to pointed centers, and most of the eagle's breast feathers appear in raised relief.  The surfaces display light toning with rather prooflike luster shimmering from beneath.  Just the slightest traces of wear separates the coin from Mint State.


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