1797 1/2C C-1 1 Above 1, BN MS64BN Certification #30451189, PCGS #35101

Owner's Comments

B-1c, C-1, G-4; (R2); M1.0; Ex Showers, Tettenhorst

Expert Comments

Ron Guth

The 1797 C-1 Half Cent shows one of the various goofs made by engravers in the early days of the U.S. Mint.  On this variety, the engraver picked up his numeral 1 punch, then stamped the 1 into the die by hitting the punch with a hammer.  Upon inspection, the engraver realized he had punched the 1 too high in the die, so he simply left it where it was, then created the date in the normal position.  Today, an engraver would simplt discard a defective die, but, back in 1797, the cost of die steel was so high and the labor was so intensive that discarding a perfectly good die was out of the question.  The result is one of the more interesting major varieties in the Half Cent series.

I once owned the finest known example of this date (the PCGS MS66BN example illustrated above).  I purchased it in a 1981 Superior Auction for $12,500.  Unfortunately, the coin market was quite weak in 1981 and I had a big tax bill from the previous year that had to be paid, so I sold the coin for a fairly hefty loss (Iet's say, it hurt).  The coin went through a couple of dealers and ended up in what is now known as the Missouri Cabinet (back then, we knew it as Tett's collection), where it has resided ever since.  Today, the coin is worth into six figures, so, naturally, I wish I had it back, but I'm proud to have my name attached to the pedigree of at least one coin from this remarkable collection.

23.50 millimeters
John Smith Gardner
5.44 grams
Metal Content
The United States of America
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Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS66BN PCGS grade MS66BN PCGS grade

Emil Cauffman Collection - Edward D. Cogan 5/1871:878, $9.00 - Virgil M. Brand Collection - purchased by St. Louis Stamp and Coin Company (Burdette G. Johnson) on 10/30/1935 for $50.00, sold 4/17/1944 for $80.00 - Celina Coin Co. (T. C. Brandts) - Rodney T. Grove - Superior Galleries 6/1981:4, $12,500 - Ronald J. Guth, sold privately 10/1982 for $8,500 - Garry F. Fitzgerald - MARCA 1/1987:57 - Julian M. Leidman - R. Tettenhorst - Eric P. Newman Education Society/Missouri Cabinet (Mocab 97.1.9) - Goldbergs 1/2014:41, $299,000

2 MS64BN PCGS grade MS64BN PCGS grade
2 MS64BN PCGS grade MS64BN PCGS grade

Philip Showers Collection - Stack’s, sold privately in 1969 - Willis H. Dupont Collection - F.S. Werner, sold privately in 2/1976 - Superior, sold privately in 2/1976 - Joe Flynn, sold privately in 4/1976 - R. Tettenhorst Collection, sold privately in 10/1987 - Jim McGuigan Collection

2 MS64BN estimated grade

Harlan P. Smith Collection - S.H. & Henry Chapman 5/1906:1195 - J.M. Clapp Collection - John H. Clapp Collection, sold privately in 1942 - Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection - Bowers & Merena 5/1996:409, $19,800 - Heritage 8/2006:5019, $115,000

2 MS64BN PCGS grade