Some years ago, while examining my $20 gold piece, I began searching the then still young internet for coin information, and to see what was available. Having some extra funds, and noticing that things were kinda cheap (gold was around $300, which was where it was in 1978 when the previously mentioned gold piece came into my possession).
So after gently getting my feet wet and getting a handle on the internet purchase routine, I decided to buy a Capped Bust Half. I can remember when I was a little kid with a $3 a week allowance buying Lincolns, Buffalos, and other assorted inexpensive coins from Irv, the local coin shop dealer. The one thing that I would always stop and stare at was the assortment of CBH’s in the case, with the lower grade examples at $15-20, well out of my range. Loved the look, and had always liked things that were old, especially that old.
Now looked like a great time to see if I could buy my first CBH. I remember the whole storm of excitement and the long waits for the mail to arrive. The beginnings of a collection! At the time, I new little to nothing of Overton numbers and was more or less just following along with the Redbook varieties. One thing caught my eye. I had purchased an 1830 CBH and was looking at the varieties (Large 0, Small 0) and then there was the Large Letters. Big dollars for that Large Letters. The 1830’s that I saw listed on various internet sites made no mention of any sort of attribution. Well, I thought, there may be an opportunity here! Thus the quest began, searching and examining every 1830 CBH listed on the internet. At first comparing each coin to that miserable little pic in the Redbook then finding a better pic on line. Still, the pics were small and not clear enough to make more than a guess. I remember one coin in particular that I thought could be a match. Was not very expensive, only around $50, so I pulled the trigger!
Yeah, I know. Not a Large Letter Reverse. Trying to match up crappy little pics is tough, but hey, no risk, no reward. Therefore, the quest continued! The above coin is kinda cool though. Likely someone’s pocket piece, with the date May, 1841 hand engraved in front of Miss Liberty. its also all scrubbed up, and a common O-116.
Time marches on. Continuous checking and educating. Finding better resources. I can remember discovering Heritage just after the Jules Reiver collection sold, and using their pics to attribute the Bust Halves that I had obtained. Even to attribute a couple of Large Cents that I had. It was at this time that I began following Heritage and watching and buying coins off of their auctions. Looking through their archives one day I noticed that there was a low grade 1830 Large Letter in an NCS holder that was missed, selling for 50 or 60 bucks. Not the nicest coin, but someone got a bargain. There is still hope!
Then the opportunity came. One night while doing my diligence one August evening, I took a quick peek at an 1830 VF35 attributed by NGC as an O-115. The coin looked decent and original, bit I noticed one key: the worn obverse die with the stretchy stars and weak milling. Hmmmm-the reverse! That perfect Large Star reverse! Someone had messed up! Now the big problem. The coin was not to be up for auction until beginning of October. Fortunately it was in a Sunday internet auction so as to not draw the usual attention. But still, what if someone noticed? I knew an agonizing 6 week wait lay ahead. 6 weeks of checking to make sure it was still there as is. 6 weeks of obsessing!
Well, things seemed to all line up. This was 2008, and the markets were all melting down. A big Heritage auction was closing just ahead of this internet auction providing plenty of cover and distractions. And only one other bidder apart from me, probably a dealer of some sort. I won this gem and collection centerpiece for a whopping total of $92.
Amazing how having OCD can be a useful tool! What was even more amazing was when another unattributed Large Letter Reverse showed up in an ICG AU58 holder 6 months later. In that time I became a BHNC member, hitting over 100 Die Marriages. I wound up being high bidder until that last day, bidding it up to over $3K then watching as 2 others took it up to $5700. One of the guys in the club got it, for a great bargain.
I still check all of the 1830’s out there just in case, as even today, you never know! The 1830 O-114 page on my site is here: http://maibockaddict.com/1830-o-114-r5-capped-bust-half-dollar.shtml
Interestingly enough, the reverse (L) on the 1830 O-114 was first used on the 1828 O-122 (reverse S).