US Coins

What an off-center 1803 Draped Bust half sells for

Early error coins from the first decades of the Philadelphia Mint certainly have the ability to get one’s mind wandering.

What did someone think about these pieces centuries ago?

While in the 19th century error collecting did not enjoy the organized and widespread fan base that it does today, some major striking errors that escaped the Mint were kept by people as oddities. Examples of striking errors like off-center coins turn up on occasion, and at its September Long Beach auction, Heritage presented several prime examples in its offering of The Hamilton Collection, Part II.

Here is one of three striking errors from The Hamilton Collection we're profiling in this week's Market Analysis:

The Lot:

1803 Draped Bust half dollar struck 10 percent off-center 

The Price:


The Story:

While early coins struck 3 to 5 percent off-center are found infrequently, those struck 10 percent or more off-center are much harder to come by. This 1803 Draped Bust half dollar is struck 10 percent off-center at 7:00 relative to the obverse. Just a bit of the design is missing — the bottom of the date and the top of STATES on the reverse — but a broad area of unstruck planchet is visible, making this a highly desirable error.

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Attributed to the Overton 103 die marriage in Al C. Overton’s book United States Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836, it has handsome, evenly worn surfaces and pleasing steel gray color that lightens on the devices. A few scattered marks here and there are seen. The impressive error, graded Very Fine 35 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., sold for $5,405 at Heritage’s Sept. 7 Long Beach auction.

Draped Bust half dollar

Draped Bust half dollar: A challenge awaits anyone who wishes to acquire the type and variety half dollar coins struck between 1794 and 1807, generally referred to as "early half dollars." How much are Draped Bust half dollars worth?

Keep reading this Market Analysis on early U.S. error coins:

1811 Capped Bust half dollar errorStriking 1811 Capped Bust half dollar error tops $11,000 in auction: This 1811 Capped Bust half dollar is one of the furthest off-center early half dollars that has come to market recently.

1848 Coronet cent striking errorLady Liberty mostly missing on this Coronet cent featuring major striking error: This 1848 Coronet cent, struck 65 percent off-center, would have been taken out and kept as a pocket piece, as it is unlikely it would've circulated for years.

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