Capped Bust half dollars highlight Legend auction
By Steve Roach , Coin World, Published: Aug 23, 2022, 8 AM
The Perfection Collection of Capped Bust half dollars will cross the auction block at Legend Rare Coin Auctions on Sept. 8 at its Regency Auction 54.
The collection has been a labor of love for “Mr. Perfection” since the 1980s, and the 33-coin set is currently the #2 ranked set on the Professional Coin Grading Service Set Registry in its category.
The collection starts off with an 1807 Capped Bust, Small Stars half dollar of the Overton 113 die marriage, which was the final coin acquired for the set. The collector finally found the right one, which was formerly in the collection of Eric P. Newman, who purchased it for $20 in the mid-20th century. It was sold for $23,500 at Heritage’s November 2013 offering of Newman’s collection, where it was graded Mint State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Co. It more recently sold in an online David Lawrence auction on June 25, 2017, for $34,500, where they called it “amongst the prettiest Bust Halves we’ve handled.”
In the present offering, Legend praises its iridescent halo at the peripheries, observing, “Light lines, perhaps indicative of an ancient, very light cleaning explain the assigned grade (and not being Certified Acceptance Corp. approved), but the eye appeal is bold and this coin is among the finest certified of the Small Stars variety.” It is one of four die pairings of the year. It is currently offered in a PCGS MS-63 holder and is estimated at $30,000 to $35,000.
The year 1807 was the final one for the Draped Bust half dollar design and the first year of the Capped Bust type, which continued until 1836. A modified Capped Bust, Reeded Edge design appeared until 1839, when the design was replaced with the Seated Liberty type.
Carrying the top estimate of $100,000 to $125,000 is an exceptional 1815 Capped Bust half dollar, which is one of 47,150 struck that year. All came from the same pair of dies with a prominent overdate where an 1812 die was modified to create the 1815/2 overdate (O-101a).
The coin is graded MS-64+ by PCGS with a green CAC sticker. (See images on page 45.) Presented as part of the Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. Collection by Bowers and Merena in 1997, it was graded MS-65 by the firm, who observed, “Frosty silver gray surfaces display hints of light gold and electric blue around the borders.” A single small depression off the eagle’s beak on the reverse serves as a pedigree marker and the piece has a provenance tracing back more than a century.
Finishing the set is an 1839-O Capped Bust, Reeded Edge half dollar that, along with the 1838-O Capped Bust half dollar, is one of just two Branch Mint issues in the entire Capped Bust series.
The 1838-O half dollar is exceptionally rare.
With a low mintage of 116,000, the 1839-O Capped Bust half dollar is scarce, especially in top grades, as most went into circulation. The set’s example is graded MS-65+ by PCGS and has a green CAC sticker. It was struck from a heavily cracked reverse die, “with spidery peripheral cracks that add to the charm of this southern condition rarity,” the cataloger points out.
Legend praises the bold strike and strong, cartwheel luster, adding, “A gentle dusting of iridescent tone has a slightly dappled appearance at the periphery on the obverse while it is soft and pastel at the center and on the reverse.” It carries an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000.