US Coins

Small-size Capped Bust dollars 1831 to 1838

Designs of the Tiimes column from Feb. 29, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

The small size Capped Bust quarter dollars were minted from 1831 through 1838. The diameter was reduced to 24.26 millimeters from the 27 millimeters of 1815 to 1828. All the individual dates are readily available in the marketplace in most grades short of choice Mint State. Coin World’s Coin Values prices Extremely Fine 40 coins from a low of $400 to a high of $425! If we look at the About Uncirculated 55 column, the difference is $900 to $1,100 for a simple date set.

Two reference books printed within the last decade will assist you. The first was by Steve Tompkins, soon followed by one authored by Rory Rea, Dr. Glenn Peterson, John Kovach and myself. Both books have valuable information to assist a collector.

The entire series is represented by only 35 die marriages. Within these 35 die marriages, seven rate at Rarity 5 (46 to 60 pieces extant) or higher, making 20 percent of your set difficult to rare to obtain.

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1831 is represented by seven die marriages including the R-5 Browning 3 and the R-5+ (31 to 45) Browning 7. (Both new references employ the Browning attribution numbers from the original 1925 work by Ard W. Browning.) The population of the B-3 marriage approaches 40 coins and the B-7 coin, around 30. 

The years 1832 and 1833 are both represented by two readily available die marriages. There will be no “stoppers” in these years.

The date 1834 has five marriages for the year and only one is scarce, the R-5 Browning 5 coin. The census of known B-5 examples is approaches 40 coins. 

The year 1835 has the most die marriages for the series, eight in total, including the very scarce B-8 at R-5+. The current estimate of the population for this die marriage is around 30 coins. 

The date 1836 has only five die marriages, but the B-5 coin is rated at R-6+ (13 to 18), one of the most difficult coins that you will need to complete your set. 

The year 1837 has six die marriages needed to complete the year, including the very scarce B-5 coin at Rarity 5, and the rarest die marriage of the entire series, the B-6, which currently is an R-8, with only two known examples!

The date 1838 completes the series, represented by a lone die marriage rated as a R-1 (more than 1,250 coins). The mintage listed for 1838 is 366,000 coins. This would be, by far, the greatest number of coins struck from a single die pairing for the entire series. Could another die pairing be hiding for this date?

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