Coin Rarities & Related Topics: News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #266
A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds….
The focus here is on the 1833 Capped Bust half dime in the Pogue Collection, a small five-cent silver coin that was formerly in the epic type set of Oliver Jung. This is the second in a series on the Pogue Family Collection, which is likely to be the all-time greatest set of pre-1840 U.S. coins. This collection will be offered by Stack’s-Bowers, “in association with Sotheby’s,” in a series of auctions starting in May 2015 and (probably) ending in May 2017.
As was said in Part 1:
[M]arvelous is the right word to describe this collection, as it is the attractiveness and originality of most of the coins that is most noteworthy, and many are truly marvels ‘to behold.’ 
The Jung-Pogue 1833 Capped Bust half dime is superb and not nearly as valuable as many of the other coins in the Pogue Family Collection. In the category of gem quality, pre-1840 U.S. coins, such a coin is modestly priced and this particular coin is more attractive than many of the more valuable silver coins in the collection. Capped Bust half dimes in general are relatively much more affordable than most other pre-1840 series of U.S. coins.
As it’s impossible right now to predict the moods, trends and demand intensity for half dimes–and overall excitement at the first of seven Pogue auctions on May 19–at this point it’s better not to estimate the current value for this specific coin. Each interested bidder should decide how much it’s worth to him or her, and not feel confined or dominated by market evaluations put forth by price guides or other third parties. The price realized will depend, in part, upon how enthusiastic serious bidders become about this specific coin.
Even collectors who may not be all that enthusiastic about this half dime may benefit from learning about it, as such learning will, hopefully, contribute towards an understanding of other classic United States coinage and help collectors formulate buying strategies. There is a need for many collectors to reflect upon the relative values of rare coins and the reasons for pursuing specific items.
Besides, the Jung-Pogue 1833 half dime is an extremely attractive coin that tens of thousands of collectors may appreciate.
Also, an 1833 half dime in Good-04 grade may be found for less than $65. There is not a need to be a multi-millionaire to collect half dimes, and many collectors may enjoy learning about them.
What Are Capped Bust Half Dimes?
Half dimes are among the first U.S. coin denominations. It is generally believed that those dated 1794 were really struck during the year 1795. In any event, 1794 and 1975 half dimes are of the Flowing Hair design type. Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dimes were struck in 1796 and 1797; similar types of dimes and half dollars were made during these same two years. Production of Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle half dimes ran from 1800 to 1805.
Capped Bust half dimes date from 1829 to 1837. They were replaced by Liberty Seated half dimes. John Reich is the primary designer of Capped Bust U.S. silver coins, though the design of Capped Bust half dimes shows considerable evidence of re-shaping and other modification by William Kneass.
Why were half dimes not struck from 1806 to 1828? U.S. citizens were still accustomed to the coinage denominations of the Spanish Empire, which had for generations governed Mexico, most of Central America and a large portion of South America. The Spanish Empire, through colonial administrations, had mined vast quantities of silver and operated multiple mints in the Americas.
The Spanish coinage system was characterized by eighths and multiples of eight. Therefore, the adoption of a decimal coinage system by the United States was novel and considered strange until the 1820s. The Spanish colonial equivalent of an eighth of a dollar (one real, or “reale”)–equivalent to 12.5 U.S. cents–circulated widely in the U.S. Coins of 6.25 (half-real) and 3.125 cents (quarter-real) denominations were spent in the United States, too. Indeed, many products were priced at 12.5, 6.25, or even 37.5 cents.
Until the 1830s, there was little demand for half dimes, as these did not easily ‘fit’ in the context of the Spanish monetary system. The U.S. silver dollar was closely based upon the eight reales silver coin (“Spanish Milled Dollar”) of the Spanish Empire.
By the 1830s, thousands of merchants in the U.S. had become used to the decimal system and millions of half dimes were soon demanded.
In the series of Capped Bust half dimes, there are no extremely rare dates. In Good-04 grade, a representative of each date can be purchased for less than $70–maybe less than $40 in some cases.
Gem ‘Mint State’ Capped Bust half dimes are intensely sought after by both collectors building type sets and quite a few collectors assembling ‘date sets’ of Choice to Gem quality Capped Bust half dimes, as such a set isn’t particularly difficult in the context of pre-1840 U.S. coins (‘early issues’). Completing a Gem quality set of most other pre-1840 types would be far more difficult.
Also, overall type sets of half dimes, dating from the 1790s to the 1860s / ’70s, aren’t hard to assemble and are neat topics for conversations with fellow collectors and friends at large. Non-collectors are often intrigued when they learn that half dimes existed.
Oliver Jung’s Epic Type Set
Before 2004, Oliver Jung had formed one of the all-time greatest, comprehensive type sets of classic U.S. coins. Although I am not sure of Jung’s intentions lately, it seems that he started another type set (a more limited one) at a later date and then abandoned the quest before May 2014. It seems that his second type set (if, in fact, he were building one), would have been less comprehensive and focused on early U.S. coins. Several of his type coins were auctioned by Heritage Auctions (HA) at the August 2014 ANA Convention, including the Norweb 1797 half dollar and the Newman-Jung 1818/5 Capped Bust quarter. (Clickable links are in blue.)
The offerings of some of Jung’s later acquisitions overshadowed his earlier achievement, which was tremendous. Curiously, the finest 1794 Apple Cheek Cent was in both of his collections and is reliably rumored to be in the Pogue collection as well.
It is harder to assemble a type set of all classic U.S. coin series, copper, nickel, silver and gold than most collectors realize. Jung’s set that ANR auctioned in 2004 was one of the half-dozen, all-time-best type set collections. The Eliasberg, Earle, Parmelee, Norweb and Pittman collections of U.S. coins were not, in any sense, planned to be type sets.
The Madison Collection, which HA sold in January 2008, was designed as a type set, though enhanced and extended beyond the boundaries typically associated with type sets. Even though it can be fairly interpreted in various ways, the Madison Collection is one of the greatest type sets of classic U.S. coins ever assembled. Most “epic” collections, by contrast, cannot be logically interpreted as type sets.
In any case, Jung’s comprehensive type set was auctioned by ANR in New York on July 23, 2004. I covered that sale for Numismatic News. Coin experts were clearly enjoying themselves at the lot viewing sessions, much more so than usual.
Who is Oliver Jung?
In 2004, and again in 2014, when terrific coins consigned by Jung ‘came onto the auction block,’ collectors wondered about Jung’s identity and collecting experiences. After all, he had more than a few great coins. He may still have the Norweb family, PCGS-graded, CAC approved, 1792 Silver Center copper cent pattern (J-1) in MS-64.
There could be other Jung coins in the Pogue Family Collection that I have not yet recognized. The presence of other Jung coins in the Pogue Collection would be unsurprising.
I met Jung only once and didn’t the have a chance to ask him how he started collecting Gem quality, classic U.S. coins. He is not a typical buyer of these. Jung has ignored recent inquiries regarding his coin collecting activities.
He was born in Germany and later lived in Switzerland. The Internet gives the impression that Jung now divides his time between Northern California, London and Tel Aviv. It may be true that he lives elsewhere.
According to Global Leads Group, “Oliver founded his first company in 1997, an eCommerce consulting company, which … was sold in 2001 when it had reached in the area of €100 million in annual sales.”
Jung went on to invest in many companies that sell goods or services via web sites. Some such companies have since been sold to larger entities, though Jung remains an investor in many internet-oriented businesses.
Oliver Jung is also a senior partner at “JungMiro,” a holding company, a venture capital firm, and/or just a website that makes clear that Jung and Eugen Miropolski consult each other often and invest in many of the same projects.
Jung-Pogue 1833 half dime
The Jung-Pogue 1833 half dime was graded MS-67 by PCGS before July 2004 and recently approved by CAC. Although I just glanced at it inside a display case this January, I examined it carefully in July 2004. Recent images suggest that its appearance hasn’t changed significantly since 2004.
I noted then that it had never been cleaned and had pleasing, natural toning with much underlying luster. It was one of the most attractive coins in the whole Jung type set–and there were many colorful, superb gems in that set. In 2004, I placed the grade of the obverse in the high end of the 67 range and the reverse in the 68 range somewhere.
Years later, I asked Charlie Browne to review his notes about the coins in Jung’s type set. Browne remarked that it was “a superb original gem, possibly 68.”
Charlie was employed, in 2004, as a grader for a coin firm that sold more than $10 million USD worth of classic U.S. coins every year. Over the course of his career, he has worked four stints as a grader at PCGS, for a total of more than one hundred months.
Other 1833 half dimes
Although CAC reports having approved eight 1833 half dimes at the MS-67 level, I find it hard to believe that this total represents eight different coins. In some cases, a crack-out artist will remove a coin from a holder with a 67 grade for the purpose of re-submitting it, with the idea of upgrading to 68 or “67+.” If such a coin fails to upgrade, the wholesaler is likely to re-submit it to CAC, after it has been placed in a new holder with a different serial number. Nevertheless, it is fair to conclude that there are at least a half-dozen 1833 half dimes that merit grades of 67 or higher, not all of which have ever been submitted to CAC.
A main point here is that there do not exist as many 67 grade 1833 half dimes as PCGS and NGC report (26).
The Norweb 1833 is PCGS-graded MS-65 and is in “Link’s” PCGS registry set. The highest certified 1833 half dime in KDM’s entry, the fourth “all-time finest” set of Capped Bust half dimes, is PCGS-graded MS-65. Also, John Pittman’s 1833 half dime was certainly not Gem quality.
The images of the piece that the Goldbergs auctioned in February 2013 are enticing, though conclusions about a coin should not be drawn from them. That PCGS-graded MS-67, CAC-approved 1833 half dime realized $13,225. While an excellent coin, that 1833 is weakly struck and may not have the eye appeal of the Jung-Pogue 1833.
Collecting Gem Half Dimes
Why buy a superb 1833 half dime, anyway?
Superb 1831 or 1832 half dimes may be easier to obtain, and superb 1836 and 1837 half dimes are rarer. Some varieties of 1835 half dimes tend to be worth a significant premium, even in Gem grades.
Most collectors who seek Gem (65 to 68) grade Capped Bust half dimes are assembling some sort of type set. A collector of type coins is likely to treat all dates and varieties equally in the series of Capped Bust half dimes. He or she may prefer a beautiful half dime of the least scarce issue to a scarcer issue (‘better date’) that isn’t as aesthetically appealing.
People are collecting Gem ‘mint state’ Capped Bust half dimes ‘by date.’ Of each ‘date’, probably more than twenty-five Gems (coins that grade 65 or higher) exist. Regarding the 1831 and the 1832, maybe more than sixty gem quality representatives of each survive. I hypothesize that there exist at least eighteen Gem 1835 ‘Small Date, Small 5c’ half dimes–a rare major variety.
Although 1837 is a scarcer date, a Gem-quality 1837 ‘Large 5c’ half dime could be found without too much difficulty. In April 2010, HA auctioned one that’s PCGS-graded MS-66 and CAC-approved for $7475. The Newman-Green piece, though, which is NGC graded MS-66 and CAC-approved, brought $22,325 in November 2013.
A gem set of Capped Bust half dimes ‘by date’ is a realistic objective for collectors who can afford them. These emerge fairly often. As I haven’t yet viewed all of them, I won’t comment generally on Capped Bust half dimes in the upcoming Pogue I sale, though there’s a good chance at least a few are wonderful gems.
Those who cannot afford gems may easily complete a set of well-circulated, Capped Bust half dimes ‘by date’ for prices ranging from $30 to $100 each. These are historically important, classic U.S. coins that may be enjoyed by a large number of collectors.
Copyright 2015 Greg Reynolds
As usual great article Greg! I will be selling my $1G collection via Heritage at this Summers ANA in Chicago. Greg, how about an article on the collection?? sd
Choice / Gem Unc capped bust half dimes are not rare. At least they weren’t in the early 1960’s when they were profuse at small local shows. I distinctly recall on one occasion a small time dealer (possibly Ralph Pfau?) having a “roll” of Gem Unc brilliant (untoned) capped bust half dimes spilled out in his case for sale at something like $25-35 apiece. The mere fact that the author states CAC has approved 8 (eight) 1833 half dimes at MS-67 says it all. Now, in my experience, capped bust dimes in choice or gem Unc are a different story – alot rarer. I’ve never seen quantities of these at any place at any time. The two best capped bust dimes I’ve ever seen were in Jon Hanson’s hands at the San Diego ANA in the late 1960’s? Today they’d grade MS-67-68.