US Coins

Taking a new path

Collecting Capped Bust half dollars by die marriage will be severely limited after the 440 die marriage count. A collector must decide to either upgrade a collection or diversify into die states.

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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 many years.

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 collectors, right?

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 at

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