Sunday, October 25, 2015

JR Newsletter: 25 October 2015 (264)

To lead this week's JR Newsletter, David Finkelstein provided an original contribution:  Dr. David Rittenhouse – Part 2.  You can access the article by clicking this link:

In response to last week's question and comments about half dime die remarriages, John Okerson wrote:

From my perspective, the remarriages are different varieties.  I feel that collectors look at Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837 as containing a list of coins to shoot for.  To me, that means the varieties and remarriages AND those coins with cuds.  I find it humorous that I have specific varieties with cuds of a considerably higher rarity than the standard coin, but don’t have the plain coin just yet.  Why pay so much for the remarriage?  They have distinctly different rarity and from my perspective, that drives the prices.

As for other Bust series coins, examining Early United States Dimes 1796-1837, remarriages do not appear within the book.  I am still committed to collecting varieties with cuds separate from the standard pieces.

In both of the modern bust quarter books, remarriages are not portrayed, but my comment about coins with cuds remains accurate.

Bust halves presents an unusual situation, not due to remarriages as much as to the breadth of the “varieties” available.  Steve Herrman’s publications list over 700 different coins within the series including coins like the 1810 O-101’ (Prime), 1810 O-101, O-101a series.  The first coin being an R7 and the other two being R1s.  I see NO way that a complete collection can be fulfilled by just one of those three – just my addiction I suppose.

My collecting of bust dollars is quite limited – just type pieces at this point.  I await the web book from Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing, parts of which are already available.  Likewise, bust gold collecting is not something I am involved with.


Steve Gupta also responded with his thoughts on half dime die remarriages:

As one of the under-bidders on two of the lots in question, I was impressed by the “VERY STRONG” bids as well.  I felt my bids were strong and had to consider the availability of funds with other exciting offerings in the market place.

The capped bust half dime series is the more affordable series to collect.  Personally, I have a better shot at putting together a substantially complete capped bust half dime series by marriage and re-marriage than putting together a die variety set of dollars, half dollars, or quarters (I am still holding out hope of putting together a capped bust dime set).  I think relative affordability limits collectors’ ability to pursue re-marriages in other series.

In terms of bid strength, I feel that re-marriages add to the cachet of a coin as does pedigree, plating, early or late die state, originality or attractive toning.  If I were seeking a single example of a coin, I would pay a premium for an interesting re-marriage or late die state.  Obviously I wasn’t willing to pay the premium that two of the lots garnered.
Ultimately a collection is purely in the mind of the collector.  As long as at least two people have the means and interest to pursue any given coin, a numismatic premium will be present.

Steve Gupta

Richard Meaney added his thoughts on the attractiveness of half dime remarriages:

When I began collecting capped bust half dimes, I started with the intention of collecting one coin of each date in choice AU grades.  Not even a few months into the journey, I learned about die marriages and the existence of a book on the series (Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837).  I got a copy of the book and began to read about the various die marriages.  The book helped me to change my collection strategy from a "one coin per year" strategy to a "get every die marriage approach."  At first, I did not understand the concept of die remarriages, so I didn't pay too much attention to them.  Through reading the John Reich Journal and discussion with fellow half dime enthusiasts, I gained an appreciation for the die remarriages.  In fact, die remarriages of capped bust half dimes have become my favorite focus for the series.  I've written a few articles for the John Reich Journal on remarriages.  In writing the articles, my purposes were to educate readers on what constitutes a remarriage; to explain the processes used to differentiate between various remarriages; to assess rarity of various remarriages; and to encourage readers to further explore the study and collection of remarriages.

To specifically address the questions raised last week, I can first say that I agree with what Steve Gupta and John Okerson have said.  To me, remarriages are part of the complete collection.  It is not enough to seek 92 die marriages.  Without an example of each remarriage, a collection is incomplete.  In fact, the biggest challenges in the series are remarriages, in my opinion.  As new discoveries are made, most of the die marriages have "become less rare."  For example, the 1833 LM-5 used to be R-8.  The die marriage is now R-7.  Same for the 1835 LM-12.  It used to be R-8, but is now R-7.  Most of the original R-5 die marriages are now considered R-4.  Die remarriages present a different story.  Logan and McCloskey did not differentiate between die marriages' and remarriages' Sheldon Rarity Scale ratings.  At first, the JRCS census followed suit and also did not differentiate between die marriages and remarriages with rarity estimates.  Now, however, with significant study of remarriages being shared between collectors, the JRCS census does provide estimates for rarity for many remarriages.  And guess what?  Some of the remarriages are proving to be very difficult to find.  Essentially, we have discovered new rarities to chase! 

That's one of the attractions for me:  chasing rarities.  If collecting a complete set (marriages plus remarriages) was an easy task, I don't think I would be interested.  With so many challenges in the series, especially with better knowledge of how difficult the remarriages are, my interest in completing a set has been heightened.

As for prices, once again I agree with John Okerson and Steve Gupta.  The rare remarriages are part of the set, so specialists feel a NEED to own an example.  Finding ANY example of some remarriages (1832 LM-9.2, 1832 LM-10.2 and LM-10.3, just to name a few) is extremely difficult to do.  Then, getting a NICE example of a rare remarriage is true challenge.  When you combine rarity with quality in one coin, one must expect competitive pricing.  I encourage collectors to look also at the prices realized in the Perkins auctions of 2014.  There is a clear trend:  rarer capped bust half dime remarriages will bring strong money!



David Perkins wrote with an announcement:

W. David Perkins and Andy Lustig Purchase the Miller Collection of Early Dollars 1794-1803

 W. David Perkins and Andy Lustig are excited to announce that they have purchased the extensive Miller early U.S. silver dollar collection and will begin offering it for sale.  The coins will be available for viewing and sale at the upcoming Whitman Baltimore Show Wednesday through Saturday, November 4-7, 2015 at Table 818 (The table is listed under W. David Perkins, Numismatist).  

 Background and the Collection

Imagine collecting the early United States Silver Dollars 1794-1803 for over 30 years, and being the first and only person to complete a set of the business strike early dollars by die marriage with every Bolender (B) and Bowers Borckardt (BB) number.  Warren Miller accomplished this feat approximately a decade ago, completing the set by die marriage in 2005.  From 2005 to the present, selected coins were upgraded and die states were added.  Miller branched out and added errors, including numerous double and triple struck early dollars.  Today the collection consists of over 160 early dollars total.  

 The collection was started in 1983 with the purchase of three different dates of Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle Dollars from a local coin shop.  On the next visit to the shop, Miller was given a copy of the Bolender book on early dollars 1794-1803 and as they say, the “rest is history!”  Miller went on to acquire all of the 118 known die marriages over the next 22 years.  Perkins was able to purchase the Unique 1795 B-19, BB-19 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar from the grandson of Frank M. Stirling, and sold it to Miller, enabling Miller to complete the die variety set in 2005.  In the last year, two new die marriages have been discovered bringing the number of total known business strike die marriages to 120.  

 All of the coins are graded by PCGS, and the set overall averages “Almost Uncirculated” in grade, with specimens ranging from Good (a Double Struck Flowing Hair Dollar) to MS63. The majority of the coins are graded in the XF-AU range of, with many unique die marriages, Finest Known and Condition Census Specimens, Plate Coins, and Late Die States.  Many of these coins resided at one time in the great collections of the past – Atwater, Eliasberg, Stickney, Amon Carter, Bolender, Ostheimer, Frank Stirling, K. P. Austin, W. G. Baldenhofer, Spies, Reiver, James Matthews, and others.   PCGS photos are available for all but a few of the coins in the collection.

The Miller Collection has been listed as the #1 Collection in the JRCS Census for many years.  The “Date and Major Type” portion of the Miller Collection was the top collection in the PCGS Registry for early dollars for 2014 and 2015, the only two years it was listed.  You can find it under EARLY DOLLARS WITH MAJOR VARIETIES AND SILVER PLUG, CIRCULATION STRIKES (1794-1803), or click on the following link:

For additional information, please contact Dave Perkins at wdperki(at) or cell phone 303-902-5366.  Images of three of the coins from the collection are below.

W. David Perkins, Numismatist
Centennial, CO