NGC Discovers Extremely Rare Dime

Posted on 2/8/2016

This 1796 JR-7 Variety, submitted under NGC's VarietyPlus service, is the finer of just two known worldwide.

A routine submission of early Bust silver coins which included a well worn 1796 dime for attribution under NGC’s VarietyPlus® service has furnished numismatics with its second known example of a previously unique die marriage. The coin’s owner was unaware of its significance until alerted by NGC.

Early dimes from 1796 through 1837 are collected by JR varieties. The initials JR are a tribute to US Mint Engraver John Reich who created the Capped Bust Liberty design, and they also reflect the fact that the standard reference on early dimes was published by the John Reich Collectors Society, a club dedicated to the study of all early United States silver and gold coins.

1796 Dime; JR-7
Click images to enlarge.

Variety JR-7 combines a reverse die used for two other die marriages of 1796 dimes with an obverse die that is unique to the JR-7 marriage and was first identified in 2002. Thus, it was not included within the JR book, which was published in 1984. The only example known until now is the plate coin in the recently published book Bust Dime Variety Identification Guide by Winston Zack, Louis Scuderi and Michael Sherrill. That specimen is extremely worn and damaged, and numismatists had been unsuccessful in locating a second specimen until now.

NGC Research Director David W. Lange was not expecting any coins of such importance when examining a seven-piece submission of early United States silver coins that included various denominations. All had been flagged for variety attribution under NGC’s VarietyPlus service, and the other coins were all of common or just slightly scarce varieties. The lone dime in this group was a well worn but rather attractive 1796 specimen whose reverse die was very quickly identified by Lange as the familiar Reverse D used for varieties JR-4 and JR-5. The obverse, however, did not match either of these die marriages, and this left only two possibilities: The coin was a new example of the unique JR-7 marriage or it was a previously undiscovered marriage. As the only known example of JR-7 has its obverse nearly obliterated by both wear and scratches, this left just the date position as a comparison point. The new coin proved to have the same positional relationship between its numerals and the bust as the JR-7 plate coin, and its submitter was notified by NGC that he was the owner of a real prize.

1796 Dime; JR-7
Click images to enlarge.

This newly discovered dime rarity was certified by NGC’s graders as Very Good-8. Both sides are evenly worn and have attractive, original surfaces of medium gray with a touch of golden toning. This makes it far and way the finer of just two examples known for the rare JR-7 die marriage.

The submission was made by Ron Drzewucki, Sr. of R & D Enterprises in Florissant, Missouri. Contacted by telephone with the good news, Ron was delighted to learn that his coin was so significant, telling NGC that it was part of an old collection that has been off the market for upwards of 60 years. This explains why the current generation of dime specialists had not yet identified this second specimen.

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