Have you ever noticed that some die marriages routinely sell for
more than others with a similar population? Oftentimes, these “rogues”
sell for multiples of their perceived value based on rarity ratings
alone. Many times you can trace the “problem” to the “Red
Book” (A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S.
Yeoman). The book features the most popular varieties for each series.
First, everyone collecting the different series has to have one of
each date. This makes scarce coins like the 1822 Capped Bust dime
(Rarity 4, 81 to 200 pieces), and the 1815/2 Capped Bust half dollar
(Rarity 2, 500 to 1,000 pieces) much more expensive than other die
marriages of the same rarity by many multiples.
If you are purchasing an R-2 half dollar of another date to fill
in your Overton collection (Early Half Dollar Varieties:
1794-1836 by Al C. Overton and Donald Parsley), the demand from
date collectors will be nonexistent.
The next category to examine is the overdates. Again, the Red
Book lists all the popular visual overdates in each series. Album
manufacturers have taken this into consideration when choosing what to
include in their albums. They have included the overdates, making them
mandatory to complete the collection, as they see it. Quarter dollar
collectors will have to add an 1806/5 Capped Bust coin and half dollar
collectors will need a multitude of overdates.
One coin that I have found to be expensive beyond its rarity is
the 1812/1 Capped Bust, Large 8 half dollar. The coin is currently
rated as an R-5 (31 to 80 coins known). It routinely sells for the
equivalent of many R-6 (13 to 30 known) coins. The high price is
because of so many collectors collecting by Red Book varieties.
Occasionally, the size of the numerals on the coin is different.
The editors of the Guide Book have included some of these in
their listings. Half dime collectors will need four different coins
for 1835 and two for 1836 and 1837. Dime collectors will need to
purchase three different 1814 and 1820 coins, two different 1821
dimes, four 1829 coins including the ever popular (and expensive) Curl
Base 2, and three 1830 dimes. Other dates have multiple listings also.
The 1829 Capped Bust, Curl Base 2 dime is another of those coins
selling for many multiples of its rarity status. Only one die marriage
for the year is known with the Curl Base 2; all others are struck
using the Square Base 2. The Curl Base 2 was not discovered until the
1970s and since then it has been downgraded to an R-5+ with slightly
more than 30 pieces known. It still sells for a few thousand dollars
even in low grade!
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