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Obverse of 1796 "With Pole" Half Cent     Reverse of 1796 "With Pole" Half Cent


Circulation strikes:
Proofs: 0

Designer: John Smith Gardner

Diameter: 23.5 millimeters

Metal content:
Copper - 100%

Weight: 84 grains (5.44 grams)

Edge: Plain

Mintmark: None (all 1796 Half Cents were struck at the Philadelphia Mint)

Images courtesy of Anthony Terranova

Varieties (2):
Cohen 1 - Without Pole - Very Rare
Cohen 2 - With Pole - Very Scarce

The 1796 Half Cent is one of the rarest, regular-issue United States coins.  One variety of this year, known as the "No Pole" (Cohen 1), lacks the section of the pole that normally appears on the lower right obverse of the coin just above Liberty's bust (this was omitted unintentionally by the engraver).  Most 1796 Half Cents are well worn, but a surprising "large" number of Uncirculated examples exists.  As of January 2003, the Professional Coin Grading Service had graded only 32 examples of this date, a mere three of which were of the No Pole variety. The finest examples graded by PCGS as of July 2003 were a single MS-63 Brown "With Pole", three MS-66 Red & Brown's "With Pole", a single MS-62 Brown "No Pole" and a single MS-67 Red and Brown "No Pole"!

Significant examples:
See individual varieties

Recent appearances:
See individual varieties

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"American Half Cents - The 'Little Half Sisters' (Second Edition)" by Roger S. Cohen, Jr.

"The PCGS Population Report, October 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

Relevant collector organizations:
Early American Coppers Club