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Market Analysis: Rare 1815/2 Capped bust half-dollar

Heritage's Oct. 7 Premier Session auction, Dallas, sold a Capped Bust 1815/2 half dollar for $39,000.

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Market Analysis: Rare 1815/2 Capped bust half-dollar

Coin World'sPaul Gilkes shared the story of the coin with us in the Sept. 21st 2020 issue. He wrote that the coin was found among many thousand U.S. and international coins in tobacco tins and secured in a canvas bag. The bag was then kept under the staircase in a British house for decades.

Gilkes reported that Darren Edmonds from Halesowen (England) claimed he had inherited these coins a decade back, after his mother's death. He also stated that the coins have been in his family at least 80 years.

Early Half Dollar Dies Varieties 1794-1836, by Al C. Overton with later editions edited by Donald Parsley, states that "unused dies from 1812 were pulled from the Mint's unused die storage area and a 5 was inserted over the 2. This obverse and one accompanying reverse die were all that was needed to make the 47,150 pieces estimated to have been produced in 1815.

Heritage wrote, "It's quite amazing that any 1815-dollar half dollars were ever struck." It was a time in which virtually all silver coins were hoarded. The Mint's lack of silver bullion is attributed to the War of 1812 legacy, where depositors hoarded every form of silver and gold bullion. They were unwilling to submit precious metals to the Philadelphia Mint.

The Mint records that the 47,150 dollars were struck from one die pair.

Overton mentions O-101a and O-101a as die states for the date. The latter is characterized by die cracks at the reverse. Heritage says, "The dies clashed often and early." Heritage writes that the reverse die broke extensively but was still in use until its death, which ended minting at that date.

These cracks can be seen on the coin. It is now graded Mint State 63 (Professional Coin Grading Service). The digit 2 remains in the date can also be seen, with a small indication under the curve at the top-right.

Heritage praises the eye appeal and writes, "Soft mint shine glows underneath attractive and original silver-gray surface, intermixed a few flecks deep-gray Mint residue. This strike is remarkable considering the advanced die state. Every star is sharp and Liberty's curls are equally defined.

Glenn Peterson noted in his most recent edition of The Ultimate guide to Attributing Bust Quarter Dollars that Capped Bust half-dollars are "Arguably" the most collectible American coins of 19th century. This is because each letter, number, and star had to be individually finished. The marriage is one of the most valuable among the 453 Capped Bust half-dollar marriages from 1807-1836.

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