1797 1C Reverse of 1797, Stems, S-123, B-12, R.4 MS64BN. This coin probably traces its origin back to the Nichols find, which included many Mint State examples of this scarce variety. Sheldon-123 is one of three varieties (the other two are S-119 and S-135) made collectible in Uncirculated grades due to the Nichols Find. However, a glance at third party populations confirms that quality examples are rare by the standards of most U.S. series. This is the second of the three varieties attributed to the Nichols Find, with an extremely close date, six berries in each branch, and the final 0 high. The obverse appears on S-122, S-123, NC-2, and NC-3. The reverse appears on 1796 S-119 and 1797 S-123. There is a tiny cut (die chip) on Liberty's cheek below the eye--a diagnostic feature of this S-123--which identifies this Nichols Find variety, which is usually found in or near Mint State grades. At least 10 examples of this variety are known in Mint State, and many more just miss that level, usually with full Mint State sharpness and minor deductions for slight imperfections. Considered R.4, meaning between 80 and 200 examples survive, well over half of the known examples grade AU or better. In fact, the variety would probably be a solid R.5 or perhaps even R.6 if that hoard never existed.
Like nearly all coins from the Nichols Find, the surfaces of both sides are a pleasing medium brown with slightly reflective fields. This exceptionally well struck, orange-brown example has unusually smooth surfaces and excellent eye appeal.