1796 DRAPED BUST H10C MS64
LIKERTY VARIETY. WELL STRUCK, NEAR GEM SURFACES. ONLY 3 COINS GRADE HIGHER AT PCGS.
The victory of the Revolutionary War quickly wore off by the end of 1783 and now it was time to put the newly independent country together. Several orders were put into place to maintain loyalty while congress tried to piece together a single “law of the land document.” Eventually most members came to an agreement, after the Articles of Confederation failed, and the Constitution was ratified in 1788. This document included several laws laid out for all states and citizens to follow and to maintain status as a sovereign united country. Also included in the constitution was a revision to regulate U.S. currency from the previous state. Before the constitution foreign coins were widely circulated, especially Spanish Silver pieces and English Pence and Shillings. These two coin systems, obviously, did not collaborate well and confusion ran rampant; congress quickly recognized that a more rational system was necessary. Thus congress adopted the decimal system both as a way to differentiate ourselves from Europe and to organize coins more reasonably, without intricate conversion charts. After several years of creation and revision of laws, the Act of 1792 finalized the U.S. currency system and described its use.
Congress jumped to it after the act was passed, and the first half-dime coins were handed out a short four days after George Washington authorized its production. As part of the original coin circulation, it is surprising that the half-dime continued in production until 1873, but designs changed frequently. In fact, by 1796 the original design from 1792 had already been completely wiped clean to a different Lady Liberty and larger eagle on the reverse after the first issue received harsh criticism.
As is common with most new things, the brand new country struggled to upkeep a brand new mint. Coins were often weakly struck due to poor quality materials, worn down dies, and the occasional hand strikes, which resulted in various designs. This coin is a perfect example of this unregulated time; after years of use the Liberty die had worn to the point that the “B” in the word resembled a “K” making the “Likerty” coin variety such as this. In addition to the aforementioned obstacles, frequent disease outbreaks, unskilled and tired workers resulted in low mintage numbers in early years. Regardless, the relatively new U.S. coin system was significantly better than the previous system and is truly a testament of time.