Don Willis: Estimated mintage of the 16 stars variety is 365 compared to 569 for the 15 stars. I always thought there were about 20 survivors. What's odd is that the 16 stars appears in auction at least as often as the 15 stars. Based on mintage the 15 star should appear almost twice as often. I bought the AU55 in 2006 as part of the Naples III collection. It is exceeded only by the MS64 and MS66. Norweb owned a 16 star which is now in PCGS VF25.
David Hall: The 1796-1797 Draped Bust, small eagle half dollar is considered to be the rarest United States silver type coin. It is an expensive coin even in the lowest grades. For the 1796, there are two varieties, 15 stars on the obverse and 16 stars on the obverse. The PCGS graded MS66 16 stars is the finest known (by a considerable margin) of either variety of 1796 dated half dollars.
Judge Curtis Collection (circa the 1940s) - possibly Wurtzbach Collection via a Bluestone sale in 1931 - Abraham Hepner, sold privately in 1968 for $1,600 - Lelan Rogers Collection - Stack’s 11/1995:1250 - John Walter Whitney Collection - Stack's 5/4/1999:1778, $460,000 - D. Brent Pogue Collection
Bowers & Merena 8/1998:181, $115,250 - American Numismatic Rarities “Haig Koshkarian Collection” 3/2004:575 (as NGC MS64), $276,000 - Goldbergs 5/2006:2908, $414,000 - Goldbergs 2/2011:1413, $345,000
Richard B. Winsor Collection - S. & H. Chapman 12/1895:598 - J. M. Clapp Collection - John H. Clapp Collection, sold intact in 1942 - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 4/1997:1674, $143,000
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