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HomeUS CoinsJeff Garrett: Tips on How to Collect Capped Bust Half Dollars

Jeff Garrett: Tips on How to Collect Capped Bust Half Dollars

Jeff Garrett: Tips on How to Collect Capped Bust Half Dollars

The early silver series can be rewarding, regardless of whether you collect by variety


By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
Jeff GarrettWhen I wrote an article recently about collecting coins by die variety, Capped Bust Half Dollars were one of the series mentioned. The series, which was produced from 1807 to 1836, is rich with interesting die varieties for specialists. Since United Stated silver dollars were not produced during this period, half dollars were the workhorse coinage of the day. Most years were struck in copious quantities and are generally available in lower grades for what I think are amazing bargains.

For these reasons, this series deserves close attention for anyone looking for their next numismatic journey. The following are a few things to consider.

There are several ways to collect Capped Bust Half Dollars, many of which can be achieved with a relatively modest budget.

For those wanting to take a deep dive, collecting by die variety is perhaps the biggest challenge. The standard reference for the series is Early Half Dollar Die Varieties by Al Overton (several editions). The book was written decades ago but has stood the test of time. Several specialty books have also been produced, with detailed attribution information.

There are about 450 different die varieties for a complete set. Many are rare and some are exceedingly rare. One of the most exciting aspects of collecting Bust half dollars by die variety is the thrill of looking for unattributed rarities. Occasionally, an entirely new variety or die marriage is discovered. These usually make headlines in the numismatic press.

Serious collectors of this series are a close-knit group and have a club devoted to the study of Bust Half Dollar varieties. Membership into the Bust Half Nut Club is by invitation and you are required to have at least 100 die marriages. Until recently, the group closely guarded rarity and grading census information, but the Information Age has made that more difficult. For anyone interested in getting involved, there is plenty of help to find, both from experts in the field and through publications.

For those wanting to collect Capped Bust Half Dollars by die variety but to a lesser extent, there are other options. Many Large Cent and Capped Bust Half collectors focus their collecting on trying to assemble as many varieties as possible that are listed in the Guide Book of United States Coins, also known as the Red Book. It lists only the most dramatic varieties for each year and generally skips the ones that are nearly impossible to collect. The classic variety for the series that is listed in the Red Book is the 1817/4. These are very rare and sell for six figures when offered at auction. Finding one of these unattributed is the dream of most Bust Half Dollar afficionados.

Collecting series by Red Book variety has become much more common in recent years as collectors seek challenging but achievable goals.

For the average collector, assembling a year set of Capped Bust Half Dollars (1807-1836) can be fun and done within the budget of even the most frugal individual. There are just a few relatively tough Capped Bust Half Dollars when putting together a set by date. The 1807 Capped Bust Half Dollar is somewhat scarce but can be found for about $750 in Very Fine condition. The 1815 is the “key date” for the series, and costs around $5,000 in Very Fine. Other than these two dates, most of the other dates can be purchased for about $150 each in Very Fine condition. These seem like incredible bargains for a coin struck in the infancy of our nation. The coins are a fascinating reflection of the rapid growth of the United States during this period.

As mentioned above, eye appeal is one of the most important aspects of collecting Capped Bust Half Dollars. This applies to even the lowest-grade examples. Finding problem-free examples of circulated coins is quite challenging. When we purchase collections of these in lower grades, usually less than half of the coins would qualify for third-party grading without comments (cleaned, scratched, damaged, stained). Higher-grade coins are often darkly toned, with somewhat negative eye appeal.

Coins that display colorful album toning can sometimes bring multiples of catalogue price for the grade. The stupendous collection of Eric P. Newman that was certified by NGC and sold by Heritage several years ago had many such examples. As always, focus on buying quality coins and, when it comes time to sell, you will be richly rewarded.

The next time someone shows you their collection of modern coins, wow them with your miniature works of art from the early history of the United States.

Jeff Garrett bio

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Rare Coin Gallery


Jeff Garrett
Jeff Garretthttps://rarecoingallery.com/
Jeff Garrett, founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in U.S. coinage — and knowledge lies at the foundation of Jeff’s numismatic career. With more than 35 years of experience, he is one of the top experts in numismatics. The “experts’ expert,” Jeff has personally bought and sold nearly every U.S. coin ever issued. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call on Jeff Garrett for numismatic advice. This includes many of the nation’s largest coin dealers, publishers, museums, and institutions. In addition to owning and operating Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Jeff Garrett is a major shareholder in Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries. His combined annual sales in rare coins and precious metals — between Mid-American in Kentucky and Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries in Florida — total more than $25 million. Jeff Garrett has authored many of today’s most popular numismatic books, including Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795–1933: Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues; 100 Greatest U.S. Coins; and United States Coinage: A Study By Type. He is also the price editor for The Official Redbook: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Jeff was also one of the original coin graders for the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He is today considered one of the country’s best coin graders and was the winner of the 2005 PCGS World Series of Grading. Today, he serves as a consultant to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the world’s largest coin grading company. Jeff plays an important role at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Department and serves as a consultant to the museum on funding, exhibits, conservation, and research. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff and many others, rare U.S. coins are once again on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. Jeff has been a member of the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. He has also served as the ANA President and as a member of the ANA Board of Governors.

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