78th CSNS and Heritage Signature Auction A Powerful Venue

Posted on 4/27/2017

Capped bust half dimes still quietly affordable.

When I was a youngster, the end of April meant that summer vacation and all the excitement that went with it was finally within sight. Similarly as an adult coindexter the same feelings stir as the 78th CSNS Convention is underway, semiofficially opening the doors to the numismatic summer season. For my money it couldn’t come at a better time as most of the country is gratefully shaking off the cobwebs and putting away snow shovels and other winter paraphernalia; it is a time to rejoice. This week the numismatic child in all of us is hard to squelch as the land of Lincoln is the host to this Midwest gala as the Schaumburg Illinois Convention Center will cater to the numismatic nation April 26-29. A huge bourse, great displays, creative and compelling exhibits and the superb Heritage Signature auction featuring five live floor sessions and nearly 4,600 lots makes this show a must for dealer and collector.

Dealers that I have spoken to are upbeat about the state of the rare coin market at this juncture in 2017. One trader from neighboring Indiana said, "The metals are stirring on the upside and that is always a draw into the semi-numismatic realm."

Another professional from California assessed, "Tax season is done and over for most of us and I have been fielding lots of requests from collectors looking to fill a hole or two in their collections. It always seems that this time of year is when the collectors’ awareness and funds mesh."

A veteran dealer from Minnesota said, "I have been receiving more inquiries for key dates in the $500-$1,500 price range with a bit of resurgence for Indian and Lincoln cents. I also have one client who will be putting the final touches on their capped bust half dime collection. He will have all dates and varieties in Choice Unc or better."

I also have a fondness for the capped bust half dimes. Here is a coin that was never quite popular with the public or the government officials as they were quite costly to produce in pre-steam press era. Dollar-for-dollar and time spent, it was far more economical producing half dollars—the largest circulated silver coin at that time.

Another reason to champion the cause for the little capped bust half dimes is that they are for the most part "evenly worn" little cameos. Take time to look through dealer's stock at a show. When you compare similarly graded coins you will find it is much easier to locate eye pleasing examples in the grade of your liking and budget. The primary reason for this collector friendly occurrence is because capped bust half dimes were struck in closed collars that imparted the reeded edges on the coins at the time of the striking. This eliminated the need to introduce the reeding onto the edges in a separate and time consuming mint procedure. This process insured more uniformity in size and allowed the small silver coins to be easily stacked for storing by merchants, bankers or collectors and they wore more evenly because of the uniformed raised rim on the coins.

Another reason to enjoy delving into this series is they were produced for a total of only nine years (1829-1837) and there aren’t any real stoppers—no rare dates to dwell on. In total with varieties, 17 coins will make the entire collection.

As for the capped bust design type, I always found the diminutive half dime the most appealing and charming. Although showing my age, when I was a youngster, capped bust half dollars and capped bust half dimes were trading for about the same level. You could pick up a nice mint state coin for around $35! Yes I know things have changed yet according to the current NGC US Coin Price Guide for capped bust half dimes reveals:

A nice Fine will cost on average of $85
A solid Extremely Fine coin will run under $200
A full mint state coin will run under $400
A Choice MS 63 example from the series will run well under a $1,000!

Now compare the latter with a type coin from the capped bust dime, quarter and half dollar in like grade. According to the NGC Price Guide, the values for a common or type coin from each of the series are:

Capped bust dime MS 63 $2,200
Capped bust quarter MS 63 $5,000
Capped bust half dollar MS 63 $2,300

While the half dimes readily appear as bargains when stacked up to their bigger siblings, there might not be much obvious market movement to attract and elicit excitement for these little silver coins. As someone who monitors auction data and pricing records, I can report that scanning my data when I first started working at CDN 13 years ago the average bid price for MS 60 was $210 and MS 63 was $500. So the values have quietly doubled since that time.

To me there is still a great opportunity for collectors at these levels. Whether at CSNS or your local show, take a look at these historic and short lived half dimes. It is a series that is fun and affordable to put together!

Until next time, happy collecting!

Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst having previously served for many years as an analyst and writer for another major price guide. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

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