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Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.Visit one of our other blogs:
Weaver Auction Offers Rare 1795 Half Dime
The half dime on the left is being offered; the one on the right, for comparison purposes.
I have been bidding in Weaver auctions for more than six years and consider Dave and Cheryl Weaver's session among the best on the portal. One reason is that they answer questions I might have on coins in a timely and ethical manner.
The half dime on the left is listed in the Oct. 4 auction. The one to its right was holdered by PCGS in roughly the same condition. (Click to expand photo.)
When I first spotted this rare coin, I had two questions. There seemed to be a slight bend in the field from 6 o'clock to 9 o'clock. The Weavers checked and later verified I was correct about the minor bend.
Because half dimes are so thin, weighing 1.35 grams, bends are common. They don't detract much from value.
Now take a look at the misplaced "B" in Liberty in the Weaver coin. This caught my attention along with the well-struck and sharply defined rims, usually the first to wear down, as in the PCGS example to the right of the photo above.
In Q. David Bowers' United States Coins by Design Types , he writes that coins in very fine and above are scarce and pricey. So this would be a find, selling for about $2,500-$3,500 even with a slight bend.
Bowers also notes that striking is inconsistent.
Upon further research, I think this is a minor variety, otherwise known as LM-9. The die designation comes from Russel Logan and John McCloskey's book, Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837 .
As you can see, the "B" in the graded PCGS coin tilts as in the Weaver-offered coin.
Those sharp rims still bother me, though. Technically, they should be as worn as in the PCGS example.
When I asked the Weavers if the consignor would guarantee authenticity, I was told yes.
Of course, to verify that the raw coin is genuine, the winning bidder would have to submit it to a major holdering company rather than a second- or bottom-tier one so that the coin's true diagnostics can be affirmed.
It's only my opinion, and auctioneers can decide what to do in cases like these, but I would recommend in the future that all rare coins be sent to NGC or PCGS before being placed in auctions.
I speak from experience. Over the years I have purchased more than a half dozen coins on Proxibid that came back from PCGS as fake. Fortunately, each seller took back the coin, according to Proxibid rules.