US Coins

Handsome 1839 Capped Bust half in Heritage sale

If you’ve ever had a pocket piece, then you understand how long it takes a coin to acquire the sort of heavy wear that might take it down to a Fine, Very Good, Good or even an About Good, Fair or Poor grade. While many collectors gravitate toward high-end Mint State coins, others are drawn to the history and magic of heavily circulated coins. Finding a problem-free example of an otherwise cost-prohibitive rarity with solid eye appeal can be a real challenge that takes patience, but for many, the result is worth the work.

Here is an example of such a coin.

The Lot:

1839 Capped Bust, Small Letters Half Dollar, PCGS Good 4

The Price:


The Story:

An 1839 Capped Bust, Small Letters half dollar is most easily distinguished from the more common Large Letters variety in that, on the Small Letters reverse, the denomination is far from the border, and only a small fraction of the arrow feathers extend past the branch stem. It’s a subtle difference, made clearer when studying a Large Letters reverse and a Small Letters reverse side by side. As a distinct variety in the “Red Book,” which calls it extremely rare, it has well-established collector demand.

This one is graded Good 4 by Professional Coin Grading Service and is one of fewer than a dozen examples traced; examples in all grades are expensive.

Behind the scenes of the CCAC meeting Behind the scenes of the CCAC meeting CCAC member Dennis Tucker shares thoughts on designs for American Legion coins. Also, Bill O'Rourke reveals several U.S. coins found in circulated rolls that technically shouldn't be there.

Heritage writes: “The obverse shows myriad wispy lines across smooth steel-gray surfaces. The reverse features an appealing circulated cameo effect with light gray motifs and rich gunmetal-blue and olive patina in the fields,” and the date and Mint mark are both bold. This extremely handsome and rare half dollar variety sold for $17,400 at Heritage’s Feb. 22 Premier Session auction in Long Beach, California.

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