[ Silver Coins ] 1796 16 Stars. O.102a, H.3-A (2A-A). Rarity-6 Specimen-66 The Finest Known. The Lelan Rogers Coin. There is no finer example of the extremely rare 16 Stars Half Dollar known to us. The Red Book Plate Coin. This example surpasses the Eliasberg, Norweb Reed Hawn and every other piece we have seen. The quality of this coin is, in a word, superb. Lovely, deep silver gray toning can be seen on both sides, with rose, pale gold, iridescent blue highlights. Both sides show bright, prooflike flash in the fields and even in the recessed areas, as the inside of the eagle's left wing. One short lint mark on the reverse under the eagle's neck is noted, showing that the die had been polished prior to striking this coin. On the obverse, the stars, letters, numerals, and Liberty's hair are all sharply struck up with all details showing bold and full. On the reverse, the eagle's neck and left leg feathers are a trifle soft but some of the breast feathers show and most of the leaves show full inner details. The edge lettering is complete. The 16 Stars Half Dollar is several orders rarer than its 15 Stars brother. Although no mintage figures survive that would tell us how many were actually made, experience shows that for every three 15 Stars coins known only one 16 Stars piece survives. The 15 Stars variety was struck first and those were the ones that were saved. When the design was changed to add the 16th star (for Tennessee), the year was late and only a few Half Dollars were required for coinage purposes. Consequently, not many were struck to begin with and of those, even fewer were made as specimen strikes for presentation. Obverse very faint break through first four stars but not yet to rim and not yet heavy, no break from bust to 14th star, these observations suggesting that this qualifies as an exceptionally early state (2A). On the reverse, the die is broken from F to O to the rim, beyond. John Whitney told us: "When John J. Pittman presented me with the Ana First Place Award for my 1796 Exhibit at Baltimore, he told me that the sponsor of the Class 1 Awards, Lelan Rogers, had the Finest Known 16 Star Half Dollar, and that I might aspire to have it some day in my collection. I waited patiently for ten years for the opportunity to come my way."