There are only two obverse dated 1796 for
this denomination, both of which have been called over dates.
The less scarce one has also been touted as a purported
blundered die, “LIKERTY”, making three alleged types in
all. If the 1796 has berry below E(D), it is the overdate.
If the berry is below D, it is the other variety. The “LIKRERTY”
is a later die state of the latter, with top and base of
B weakened. Some of the minted may have borne date 1795.
Despite generations of contrary cataloging,
the order of types in 1797 is chronologically 15 stars,
then 16, finally 13. This is only logical. The 15 star dies
were left over from 1795, with final digit omitted, as was
then common practice.
The 16 star die, like it counterparts in all other silver
and gold denominations, was made in 1796 alluding to Tennessee’s
admission to the Union as the sixteenth state, but if any
presentation striking were made of the half dismes, they
have not shown up. And the permanent shift to 13 stars followed
Mint Director Elias Boudinot’s realizing that the Mint could
not go on indefinitely adding new stars as new states entered
Date punches on the 15 star die like those
on the 1796s are those used on the last varieties of 1795.
This is the least rare variety of 1797. And the die continued
in use long after breakage and clashing marred it. A single
prooflike presentation piece survives, sent by Mint Director
Boudinot to Matthew Boulton in England, as a sample of the
best the Mint could then produce; this specimen went from
Boulton estate to Waldo Newcomer and Harold Barefold, but
if tid not apper in the auction of Barefold’s coins.
Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle (1800-1805)
As always, the smallest denominations were
among the last to receive the dubious benefit of Scot’s
design changes. Scot copied the heraldic eagle device from
the Great Seal of the United States (1782), though on all
six device punches of this design be committed the heraldic
blunder of placing the warlike arrows in the eagle’s dexter
claw, outranking the olive branch of peace in the sinister
claw. On the actual Great Seal this blunder does not occur.
No Archives documentation explains the change.
The design appeared first on 1796 quarter
eagles, perhaps originally intended for presentation pieces
celebrating Tennessee’s admission to the Union as the sixteenth
state: All three dies have 16 stars above eagle.
The only date of this type which can be
had in mint state, well struck, without many years waiting
is 1800. For 1800, three obverses are known. That with a
ll perfectly formed 8 is still unique, after this punch
broke, for unknown reasons it was never replaced, and subsequent
dies through 1805 either have an 8 made out of overlapping
circles or engraved, crude and narrow.
The so-called LIBEKTY die was made with
a broken or otherwise defective R punch. This was promptly
replaced, but the die remained in use thru part of 1801.
Specimens dated 1801, and most of those
dated 1803 and 1805, are among the most poorly struck coins
ever issued by the Philadelphia Mint. All are weak on parts
of drapery and the reverse areas exactly opposite. And this
weakness caused many to look worn after only a few days
or weeks in circulation.