US Coins

Market Analysis: Early half dollar die marriage challenge

For collectors who love the challenge of collecting early U.S. half dollars by die marriages, Stack’s Bowers Galleries offered the E. Horatio Morgan Collection at its Nov. 15, 2019, Baltimore Whitman Expo auctions.

The collection — being sold under a pseudonym to protect the identity of the deceased collector — was assembled in the late 1980s to early 1990s with an eye toward both quality and completeness, eventually including 546 of the 558 known die marriages for all half dollars from 1794 through 1836. Even legendary collector Jules Reiver had just 539 of the 558.

There are 42 possible die marriages for the Flowing Hair half dollars of 1794 to 1795. A 1794 half dollar, listed as O-110 in Al C. Overton’s reference to the series, is the finest of just a dozen known of the rare variety. The entire mintage of 23,464 1794 half dollars came from 11 die pairings.

This example, now graded About Uncirculated 53 by Professional Coin Grading Service, was discovered in 1982. Clearly discoveries await even within these well-studied series. The next-finest, graded Extremely Fine 40, was found in Europe in 1994.

The handsome AU-53 half dollar sold for $50,400.

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