Rare 1797 Draped Bust, Small Eagle 9+7 stars US Silver Dollar

This coin is a US 1797 Draped Bust, small eagle silver dollar, large letters with 9+7 stars variety, BB-73, Bolender 1. In 1797, the relatively new US mint was still learning the art of coin manufacture and 1797 was a particularly difficult year, producing only 7,760 dollars compared to 72,920 for 1796 and 327,536 for 1798. In 1797, both the obverse and reverse dies for this 9+7 star variety eventually cracked, the obverse die broke so badly that it had to be discarded. The reverse die was reused in 1798 with old 15 star and new 13 star obverse dies thus 1797 was the only dollar to bear 16 stars in honor of Tennessee's admission to the union! This specimen was minted late in 1797 and shows both the reverse and obverse die cracks as seen below. The reverse die crack runs vertically through the second letter T of STATES and is also found on all specimens of 1798 dollars that used the same die! Early dollars also had planchet problems often due to incomplete mixing of the silver alloy used to make blanks. These often appear as curved black marks or streaks and these features can occasionally corrode leaving swirling features as seen on Liberty's neck. Similar effects are sometimes seen on the famous 1795 "silver plug" bust dollar where the metal alloy is also not uniform. The reverse has a faint outline of the date 1832 hand scribed below the wreath. This style of cursive handwriting is no longer used.

Below: Obverse die cracks start at stars 5 and 7 then cross each other in Liberty's ribbon.
Another one travels from the 97 in the date to the lower part of Liberty's drape.

Although the coin may have been cleaned long ago, it has very nice metallic luster like many coins from the period.