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A 4th J17/P23A - 1794 Half Dollar Discovered
by Saul Teichman
August 30, 2003

A fourth example of a 1794 half dollar struck in copper as been discovered. As with 2 other die trials, the planchet was cut down and used as to be a host for a 1795 half cent of variety Breen 6, Cohen 6. The half dollar undertype is most visible at the lower obverse at 7:00 where the reverse wreath of the half dollar shows clearly.

This one was struck from Overton 101 dies. Two others are known struck from Overton 104 (P23) and 105 (P24) dies which were also cut down and used as half cent stock. An example, not cut down, struck from Overton 109 (P25) dies is in the Smithsonian. To view this piece, click here.

It was offered in Superior's 9/2003 sale and is described as follows:

"Slightly glossy chocolate and medium brown with some delicate overtones of sea-green and bluish steel. The faint overtones appear to have resulted from a chemical wash to remove some minor dirt and expose more of the half dollar undertype. The notable marks are a dull, light scratch from the hair just left of the neck down to the top of the 7, a tiny rim nick at OF, a tiny pinprick in the field off the bust tip, and a faint hairline scratch on the neck. The planchet is decent, smooth except for a small patch of microscopic roughness in the field over the bust tip. Overall a rather generic half cent except for the undertype, which is of a 1794 half dollar, the Overton-101 die variety. The 1794 half dollar must have been a die trial in copper that was later cut down into a half cent planchet (similar to what was done to many Talbot Allum & Lee cents and spoiled large cent planchets) and struck with the 1795 C-6 half cent dies. Ample undertype remains on both sides, more than enough to easily identify the 1794 Overton-101 die variety for the half dollar strike. The entire 1794 date is visible left of the fraction, along with the first two stars, lower hair curls, and bottom edge of the bust. On the obverse of the half cent strike you can see strong portions of the half dollar wreath in the field behind the portrait, the top two leaves of the wreath under the I in LIBERTY, and the A in STATES in the dentils left of the top of the cap. Additional half dollar undertype can be made out on both sides. A remarkable overstrike that clearly attests to the production of 1794 half dollar die trials in copper and the subsequent use of at least one of those die trial planchets cut down to serve as a half cent planchet. Weight 88.5 grains. EAC grade net F15+, close to VF20. The NGC label identifies the undertype 1794 Overton-101 half dollar die trial."

Because this one is from Overton 101 dies, we are calling it P23A.

Photo courtesy of Superior.