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Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Dimes of 1822

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #136 ……

A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds
Capped Bust Dimes were minted from 1809 to 1837. The 1822 is the only date that is truly rare, though a noticeable variety of an 1829 is even rarer, with a numeral ‘2’ that has a ‘curl bottom.’ People who collect Capped Bust Dimes usually settle for just one 1829 dime and thus do not seek two varieties. Beginners may wish to read an earlier article on Collecting Dimes.

The 1822 is the key date in the Capped Bust Dime series and is a famous issue of the first half of the 19th century. An especially important 1822 is ‘in the news.’ On October 18, Heritage auctioned an NGC graded MS-66 1822 for US$79,312.50. Two days later, Heritage auctioned a damaged, circulated 1822 dime, with ‘Good’ grade details, for $793.13.

In any grade or in ‘no grade,’ 1822 dimes are rare. (A ‘no grade’ coin is a coin that has such serious problems that it fails to merit a numerical grade.) Although the PCGS CoinFacts site estimates that two hundred exist, my belief is that more than three hundred survive. Many collectors of circulated coins, especially of those that grade below Fine-15, prefer coins that are not encapsulated.

Moreover, I estimate that at least 175 1822 dimes are not gradable, mostly due to being very scratched or bent while in circulation. Also, some have corroded. Fewer than one hundred, different 1822 dimes have been graded by the PCGS or the NGC. Importantly, there could not be more than thirty 1822 dimes that grade, or would be fairly graded by the PCGS or the NGC, above Very Fine-25.

What are Capped Bust Dimes?

Capped Bust Dimes were first minted in 1809. During the same era, Capped Bust Half Dimes, Capped Bust Quarters and Capped Bust Half Dollars were minted. These all have similar designs, though there are very noticeable differences, in an artistic sense.

Starting at some point in 1828, a second subtype of Capped Bust Dimes was introduced. While sometimes referred to as ‘small size,’ this name is not suitable as these are only slighter smaller, on average, in diameter. In addition to the introduction of different border devices, there are several subtle differences. Also, more advanced technology was employed to manufacture the second subtype of Capped Bust Dimes.

Before Capped Bust Dimes, Draped Bust dimes were minted. Those with a so-called ‘Small Eagle’ reverse (back) design are dated 1796 and 1797. From 1798 to 1807, Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle dimes were produced. Liberty Seated Dimes followed Capped Bust Dimes, and were minted from 1837 to 1891. Barber Dimes were produced from 1892 to 1916. Mercury Dimes followed, 1916 to 1945. Roosevelt Dimes have been minted from 1945 to the present.

Herein, I am referring to business strike 1822 dimes. Business strikes are coins made by ordinary or routine methods. Proofs were specially made for collectors and/or to impress people. Some physical characteristics of Proofs are much different from corresponding characteristics of business strikes.

It is probably true that three Proof 1822 dimes exist. These are really a different topic. I am under the impression that the James A. Stack 1822 has been PCGS certified ‘Proof-66,’ though I am not sure. Stack’s auctioned the James A. Stack Collection of dimes on January 16, 1990. This is probably the best collection of classic U.S. dimes that has ever been assembled. The late James A. Stack is to the family that owned the Stack’s auction firm.

Circulated 1822 dimes

Generally, 1822 dimes are much more expensive than other Capped Bust Dimes. Of the first subtype, an 1820 or an 1821, in Good-04 grade, could be found for less than $40. Of the second subtype of Capped Bust Dimes, a few dates in the 1830s could each be obtained, in Good-04 grade, for around $30 each, at retail.

In many series, a key date can be dramatically more expensive than one of the least rare dates. In a recent article, for example, I discuss prices for circulated, key date Barber Quarters.

At Summer FUN Conventions in July 2011 and in July 2012, Heritage auctioned a PCGS graded AG-03 1822 dime for $805. I believe that these are two different coins.

The PCGS lists just one 1822 dime as grading Good-04 and Heritage auctioned it on February 3, 2011 for $1,495. In January 2010, Heritage sold an NGC certified Good-04 1822 for $1,443 and another in May 2012 for $1,725.

It is important to remember that auction prices tend, on average, to fall around the border of the wholesale and retail price ranges. Dealers will often ask for higher prices in retail settings, especially in situations where collectors may carefully inspect coins before deciding whether to buy them.

In June 2007, Stack’s sold a PCGS graded Good-06 1822 for $920. Also, on January 5, 2009, Stack’s auctioned a very much damaged 1822 for $546.25.

In July 2011, Heritage sold an NGC graded VG-08 1822 for $2,990, a strong price. I saw it. It had been moderately cleaned long ago and has since naturally retoned. Some imperfections on the reverse (back of the coin) are concerning, though not seriously problematic. The assigned grade of VG-08 is probably acceptable. I did not expect it to realize $2,990, which I take to be a little too high. I would have imagined a retail price of around $2,300 for this coin.

In July 2012, Heritage sold a PCGS-graded VG-10 1822 for $3,220. Now, a reputable dealer in Pennsylvania is asking $3,995 for an 1822 that is also PCGS VG-10, though I believe that these are different coins. An important point to remember is that retail prices, on average, are higher than auction prices. Of course, auction results are sometimes well within or beyond retail price ranges. (Please see my article on What Are Auction Prices.)

The PCGS CoinFacts site lists an NGC-graded Fine-12 1822 as having been auctioned by Heritage for $1,495 in Sept. 2011. There is, however, no such record on HA.com. My guess is that this is a data entry error, perhaps on the CoinFacts site.

On July 30, 2008, when markets in rare U.S. coins were peaking, Heritage auctioned an NGC-certified Very Fine-20 1822 for $4,743.75

I emphasize that these are extremely rare in Very Fine and higher grades. I already wrote about the 1822 dime that sold on Aug. 18, 2012, as part of the Stack’s-Bowers Rarities Night event. It is PCGS-graded Extremely Fine-45 and it realized $10,575. It was formerly in the collection of the late David J. Davis, a well known collector, who is a co-author of the leading reference book for die varieties of bust dimes. Matt Kleinsteuber very much likes this coin and he thought the price was modest.

In January 2012, Heritage auctioned an 1822 that is PCGS graded AU-55. Jim McGuigan likes it more than I do, though I found it to be acceptable.

Jim was the successful bidder for that 1822. McGuigan has specialized in pre-1840 U.S. coins for decades and has attended most major U.S. coin auctions over the past quarter-century. He finds that “there are very few better ones.”

In my view, that 1822 just barely qualifies for a 55 grade. If it was to be submitted to the CAC, my guess is that it would not be approved. It brought $11,500, a result which was neither strong nor weak.

Uncirculated 1822 Dimes

There are a very small number of 1822 dimes that are uncirculated and gradable. An uncirculated coin that does not have serious problems will qualify for a ‘Mint State’ (MS) grade from the PCGS or the NGC. Even some that do have serious problems are, on occasion, mistakenly assigned grades at the PCGS or the NGC. Interestingly, since the CAC was founded in October 2007, not one uncirculated 1822 dime has been CAC approved.

Admittedly, I do not know how many certified ‘MS’ 1822 dimes were submitted to the CAC. It is likely, though, that a few were submitted, as the CAC often receives shipments from auction companies and certified ‘MS’ 1822 dimes have been auctioned since 2007. CAC approval, would in theory, increase the market value, on average, of any one of these.

On September 20, 1996, Heritage auctioned an NGC graded MS-62 1822 for $7,975. I do not whether it is the same coin that Heritage auctioned in 1995 for $6,600. It is, though, the same coin that ANR auctioned in November 2004 for $14,950. Later, in Jan. 2006, ANR auctioned a PCGS-graded MS-63 1822 for $23,000.

On January 7, 2004, Heritage auctioned an NGC-graded MS-63 1822 for $11,500. On May 5, 2005, Heritage auctioned a different NGC-graded MS-63 1822 for $13,800.

In April 2006 and, around three years later, in April 2009, Heritage auctioned the same NGC certified “MS-64*” 1822. In 2006, when coins markets were ‘hot,’ it sold for $34,500. In late April 2009, when markets for rare U.S. coins were bottoming, it brought $25,300. Curiously, however, when coin markets were peaking, on July 31, 2008, an NGC-certified ‘MS-64 prooflike’ 1822 sold for $29,900, in an auction that was characterized by many very strong prices.

I find that it is often important to examine the coins themselves to fairly analyze prices realized. Two coins of the same type and date, which are certified by the same service and assigned the same grade, may be very different in terms of quality or other characteristics. In some cases, graders at the services are deceived by doctored coins, and in other cases, coins are just mistakenly overgraded.

Coin grading is complicated and no system is perfect.

The Finest 1822 Dimes

My information, at the moment, very much suggests that the NGC-graded MS-66 1822 and the “Northern Bay” 1822 are the two finest 1822 dimes. During March 2006 in New York, Stack’s auctioned the Northern Bay Collection 1822 for $149,500. My sources indicate that the Northern Bay 1822 was, after the auction, graded MS-66 by the PCGS and that it has never been submitted to the CAC. It has been in the same private collection since March 2006.

I never saw the Northern Bay 1822. Jim McGuigan has raved about it. Jim regards it as the “best 1822 dime” that he has ever seen. McGuigan is a specialist in pre-1840 U.S. coins.

Richard Burdick and I agree that this NGC-certified MS-66 1822 has been moderately dipped in the past and has naturally retoned. While it is attractive, it does not have a very original look. I like this coin more than Richard does. It has nice color and very few imperfections.

Unfortunately in my view, the PCGS and the NGC have certified many, heavily-dipped 19th-century coins as MS-67 or even MS-68. It would be unfair to ‘single out’ this 1822, especially since it has naturally retoned in a nice manner, with suitable colors. It makes the 66 grade, though just barely.

“This NGC MS-66 1822 is the second best one that I remember,” Richard Burdick states. “Seventy-nine thousand is fair money for it. When it comes to 1822 dimes, you do not get a lot of choices!”

Indeed, finding pleasant, high grade 1822 dimes is difficult. The condition rarity of these has not been fully recognized in the coin collecting community.

©2012 Greg Reynolds

Greg Reynolds
Greg Reynolds
Greg Reynolds has carefully examined a majority of the greatest U.S. coins and most of the finest classic U.S. type coins. He personally attended sales of the Eliasberg, Pittman, Newman, and Gardner Collections, among other landmark events. Greg has also covered major auctions of world coins, including the sale of the Millennia Collection. In addition to more than four hundred analytical columns for CoinWeek and at least 50 articles for CoinLink, Reynolds has contributed hundreds of articles to Numismatic News newspaper and related publications. Greg is also a multi-year winner of the ‘Best All-Around Portfolio’ award from the NLG, as well as awards for individual articles, a series of articles on the Eric Newman Collection, and for best column published on a web site.

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