An advanced collector of any series will eventually reach a point
where he is not easily able to add items to his primary collection. He
must then decide which path to follow, to continue on his numismatic journey.
The collector of Capped Bust half dollars by die marriage will
find adding die marriages to his collection severely limited after the
440 die marriage count. Not only are the remaining die marriages
expensive, they are not often offered for sale. The opportunity to own
a particular die marriage may come only once a decade.
On reaching this point, one must decide to either upgrade the
collection or diversify into die states. With so many die marriages
needed for completion, most collectors will have been working on their
sets for many years. During that time, their tastes will likely have
changed or evolved. A pause in the quest toward completion gives an
opportunity to replace coins purchased early in their career, to match
their new standards. This can extend the life of the collection for
Most collectors will have already begun collecting differing die
states of the marriages as they found them in the natural course of
purchasing coins. Who can sell off a coin with a neat die crack or
even a full blown cud? We are all guilty of keeping more coins than we
need simply because they look a little different. That’s what makes us
Most collectors also decide that collecting another series or two
makes perfect sense. How many half dollar collectors also collect the
half dimes, dimes or quarter dollars of the same design?
We justify it by the similarity of the designs and history behind
them. After all, there are excellent die marriage identification
manuals for us to use. It would be a crime to let all that original
research go to waste, right?
Oftentimes a collector will reach a point in his career where
liquidating makes sense. After all, he has been building the
collection for decades before reaching his current impasse. The
collector who assembled the set is in the best position to realize the
best price. Options for selling the collection will then have to be
explored. Auctions, outright sale or consignment are some of them.
Many collectors do not realize soon enough that it is time to sell
and so leave the final disbursement to an heir. In that case,
hopefully, the collector has left instructions to assist the heir in
receiving a fair return on the collection.
Brad Karoleff is a vice president of the John Reich Collectors
Society and editor of the club’s journal. He can be reached via e-mail