Mint State 1796 BB-65 DollarThe Whitney-Flanagan-Lee-Thomas Specimen1796 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. BB-65, B-5. Rarity-4. Large Date, Small Letters. MS-62 (NGC).Significant Mint State preservation for the brief and challenging Draped Bust, Small Eagle silver dollar type of 1795 to 1798. Satiny surfaces are brilliant apart from wisps of iridescent reddish-gold toning that are a bit more prevalent on the obverse. The strike is well centered on both sides, the detail overall full on the obverse and just a bit less so on the reverse with mentionable softness confined to the eagle's breast and legs. The surfaces are uncommonly smooth for the assigned grade with outstanding eye appeal. BB Die State II.The year of the death of the first mint director, David Rittenhouse, and the year of John Adams' election to the presidency, some 72,920 silver dollars were struck according to mint records in calendar year 1796. This number appears to be congruent with most estimates of the actual number of coins produced bearing the 1796 date. Coined from six known die pairs, this is a significant drop from the previous year. One of the more distinctive varieties is the Bowers Borckardt-65 die marriage. Both the obverse and reverse dies saw use exclusively in this marriage. While not immediately obvious, close examination reveals that the digit 6 in the date is clearly repunched. All told, three reverse dies were prepared with small letters, with the die used here the final such one put into service. Q. David Bowers suggests that this die is more in keeping with earlier issues and may actually have been prepared in 1795. Early on in its use, a chunk of metal in the reverse die between the letters I and C in AMERICA fell out, causing a large lump to form on the coins once struck. This lump expanded significantly as the die continued use and is an easy diagnostic for identifying the BB-65 variety. While theorized to exist, no examples of 1796 dollars struck from the BB-65 die pair are known without this lump.The second most available of 1796 dollars behind only the BB-61 die marriage, most of the estimated 800 to 1,400 examples are found in mid-level circulated grades. At the AU level and above, challenging becomes the operative word to describe locating choice examples. Bowers (2013) includes just four Mint State coins in his listing of "Notable Specimens," the present example included therein. An impressive provenance further enhances this coin's already immense appeal.Provenance: Ex John Whitney Walter, acquired privately, 1994; our (Stack's) sale of the John Whitney Walter Collection, May 1999, lot 1784; our (Bowers and Merena's) sale of the Philip Flanagan Collection, November 2001, lot 4222; Heritage's sale of the Jack Lee Collection III, November 2005 Dallas Signature Auction, lot 2189; Heritage's sale of the Joseph C. Thomas Collection, April-May 2009 CSNS Auction, lot 2540.NGC Census (all die marriages of the issue): 4; 4 finer (MS-65 finest).PCGS# 40002.Click here for certification details from NGC.