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Steve Crain Liberty Seated Half Dime Die Variety Reference Collection Now Online

CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,613 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited May 26, 2019 8:10AM in U.S. Coin Forum

I am pleased to announce that the Steve Crain Liberty Seated half dime die variety reference collection is now online, at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/imagecollection/514182.

Steve has doggedly pursued Liberty Seated half dime die varieties for many years, and, when David Perkins approached me several months ago with the opportunity to document the collection, I knew we had to find a way to honor Steve's legacy, which represented the most comprehensive set ever built. Many of these pieces would not have been photographed in the normal course of business as their commercial value did not justify it. The research value, on the other hand, is a completely different story. We now have the best photographic guide to the Valentine varieties, with individual examples carefully sought out by Steve after much searching, numbering nearly a thousand coins altogether.

Primary funding for this project was provided by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, with the Liberty Seated Collectors Club also contributing. Steve Herrman, author of the ongoing Bust half dollar die variety census, provided the photography. Finally, we are grateful to Dave Perkins and the Crain family for their permission to document the collection in this way.

Comments

  • roadrunnerroadrunner Posts: 28,303 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's very cool. Never seen so many seated half dimes in one place. The 1840 ND shattered obverse is one of my favorite varieties. Thanks for making this accessible to the entire hobby.

    Barbarous Relic No More, LSCC -GoldSeek--shadow stats--SafeHaven--321gold
  • StaircoinsStaircoins Posts: 2,565 ✭✭✭
    edited May 26, 2019 10:21AM

    What a wonderful tribute to Steve. I miss the conversations he and I would have every now and then. Every chat was informative, enlightening and entertaining. What a wealth of knowledge, and a genuinely nice guy to boot.

    Thank you Steve, for everything.

  • savitalesavitale Posts: 1,405 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow. That is one of the most impressive sets I have ever seen.

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,601 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'll be sure to link that from my list of online variety attribution sites.

  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,452 ✭✭✭✭✭

    having photos of Steve's holders was so important, glad it was done that way. Steve included all sorts of notes on condition and attribution for each coin on his holders.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What ever happened to this 1849/846 V-2 Very Early Die State I once sold Steve? I tried to buy it when the collection was sold, but nobody seems to know where it is?

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Image resolution seems to be about 5500 dpi net on the coin (3300 pixels image width). Bit depth is 24, and there is no indication that 36 or 48-bit raw data is available. RAW data format - original to the Sharpness and detail can be improved by careful use of image manipulation and sharpening tools.

    Original camera was a Nikon with 105mm macro lens at f11, 1/500 sec., ISO 400 equivalent with manual white balance. All good stuff.

    Very good of NNP/EPNNES to fund and produce this project. It will benefit collectors and professionals for a long time. (Maybe next time the RAW data can be made available for really serious study.)

  • oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very nice representation of Seated Half Dimes. Earmarked for future reading enjoyment.

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_aka...Dr. Defecto - Curator of RMO's

    BST transactions: dbldie55, jayPem, 78saen, UltraHighRelief, nibanny, liefgold, FallGuy, lkeigwin, mbogoman, Sandman70gt, keets, joeykoins, ianrussell (@GC), EagleEye, ThePennyLady, GRANDAM, Ilikecolor, Gluggo, okiedude, Voyageur, LJenkins11, fastfreddie, ms70, pursuitofliberty, ZoidMeister,...
  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 26, 2019 1:33PM

    @CaptHenway said:
    What ever happened to this 1849/846 V-2 Very Early Die State I once sold Steve? I tried to buy it when the collection was sold, but nobody seems to know where it is?



    https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/imagedetail/611890
    This amazing coin was #955 in Steve's database.
    I heard second hand that John Frost may have purchased it.
    Dave Perkins should know who bought it.

    • Clint
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Don’t think those are the same coin. Look at the horizontal dings on the denticle below the 9/6.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 26, 2019 5:38PM


    I believe I can see those horizontal dings in the new photo.
    They are just not as high contrast due to the lighting angle.
    I see several other markers that are the same on both photos, such as:
    1. diagonal scratch in bottom of skirt to foot, just above heel
    2. ding near edge of skirt, just SE of pendant
    3. dark spot on the edge under the right side of the 8
    4. diagonal ding on the edge under the left side of the 4
    5. diagonal scratch in field right of lower part of 9
    6. ding in field past end of this diagonal scratch

  • ms70ms70 Posts: 13,946 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This collection is so immense I don't even know what to say other than I'm appreciative that it is shared for all of us.

    Thank you!

    Great transactions with oih82w8, JasonGaming, Moose1913.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I still don’t see the horizontal dings on the denticle but it is indeed the same coin. Besides the marks you mention there are black spots to the right of the Y of LIBERTY and to the right of the bottom of the pendant.
    Don’t know if he dipped it or if the original picture was just poorly exposed.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,601 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Any chance the NNP will be reorganizing this into pages of one date/mint per page rather than one monolithic page?

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @messydesk said:
    Any chance the NNP will be reorganizing this into pages of one date/mint per page rather than one monolithic page?

    That would be very helpful, plus an ability to click on an image and then go back one click to the list.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 26, 2019 9:55PM

    Once you have all the photos in your browser cache, it's pretty easy to scroll down to the date/mint you are interested in.
    That said, I downloaded all the photos to my PC and renamed them, so they are sorted by date/mint there also.

    And I have the table data (year/mm, V-number, die state, grade, description, Notes, etc.) in an Excel file.
    This makes it easier to compare Steve's notes across several coins / die marriages for a year/mm.

    The Note field is truncated to 255 bytes, sometimes mid-sentence.
    This may have happened during the conversion from Steve's database to the Excel file,
    so people have been asking to see if an untruncated version can be found.
    Steve was well known for writing long, detailed descriptions!

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What an amazing resource.... Though I am not a half dime collector, I am generally interested in all coins... and that is an incredible resource. Thanks for the link... Cheers, RickO

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,601 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @yosclimber said:
    Once you have all the photos in your browser cache, it's pretty easy to scroll down to the date/mint you are interested in.
    That said, I downloaded all the photos to my PC and renamed them, so they are sorted by date/mint there also.

    Yes, but it's not mobile-friendly to go to a page and incur a 100 MB download and then be expected to scroll through it all. Also, forget about using it on a bourse floor, where both WiFi and mobile data connections and transfer speeds are notoriously bad.

  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,452 ✭✭✭✭✭

    looks like it can be saved as a PDF down to about 32MB, if that helps for mobile users. Might even be more compressible than that

  • spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 5,427 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 27, 2019 12:45PM

    One of the truly great collections of a lifetime of effort, IMO. Tremendous research value and numismatic significance. Kudos to NNP for doing this. Also proves one does not have to be buying 5 and 6 figure $ coins to be one of the great numismatists of an era. Des félicitations et des compliments to Steve Crain for this achievement.

    Best, SH


    Successful transactions with-Boosibri,lkeigwin,TomB,Broadstruck,coinsarefun,Type2,jom,ProfLiz, UltraHighRelief,Barndog,EXOJUNKIE,ldhair,fivecents,paesan,Crusty...
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I want to reinforce comments by others of the importance of retaining 2x2 or other holder data. These data were not trivial doodling by the collector - they were/are an integral part of the coin variety. They can also aid in detailed examination of coins in relation to larger manufacturing and technology changes.

    If we look at the Steve Crain half dimes, notice that many holders include weight and diameter. Comparing varieties, some appear to be of greater diameter than others, there are weight changes and other differences only obtainable from the original holders.

    Loss of these data is one of the primary defects of slabbing coins (along with loss of edge information). Slabs include only superficial information, unlike Crain's holders.

    Data lost through destruction of original coin holders and envelopes, can never be recovered. A frustrating example occurred while researching the book on Inco & Gould private pattern pieces. A person who acquired a large, diverse collection of Inco pieces from the family of an employee, threw away all the envelopes that came with the coins. He transcribed some of the envelope notes, but there appear to be multiple errors in the transcription or original notes -- we can't tell which.

  • oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I wish that our host would take this wealth of research and...use it.

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_aka...Dr. Defecto - Curator of RMO's

    BST transactions: dbldie55, jayPem, 78saen, UltraHighRelief, nibanny, liefgold, FallGuy, lkeigwin, mbogoman, Sandman70gt, keets, joeykoins, ianrussell (@GC), EagleEye, ThePennyLady, GRANDAM, Ilikecolor, Gluggo, okiedude, Voyageur, LJenkins11, fastfreddie, ms70, pursuitofliberty, ZoidMeister,...
  • BarndogBarndog Posts: 20,452 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RogerB said:
    I want to reinforce comments by others of the importance of retaining 2x2 or other holder data. These data were not trivial doodling by the collector - they were/are an integral part of the coin variety. They can also aid in detailed examination of coins in relation to larger manufacturing and technology changes.

    If we look at the Steve Crain half dimes, notice that many holders include weight and diameter. Comparing varieties, some appear to be of greater diameter than others, there are weight changes and other differences only obtainable from the original holders.

    Loss of these data is one of the primary defects of slabbing coins (along with loss of edge information). Slabs include only superficial information, unlike Crain's holders.

    Data lost through destruction of original coin holders and envelopes, can never be recovered. A frustrating example occurred while researching the book on Inco & Gould private pattern pieces. A person who acquired a large, diverse collection of Inco pieces from the family of an employee, threw away all the envelopes that came with the coins. He transcribed some of the envelope notes, but there appear to be multiple errors in the transcription or original notes -- we can't tell which.

    Steve would measure diameter in the North to South direction and also in the East to West direction and he would record both. His weight measurements were taken on a quality scale (Ohaus Cent-O-Gram).

    As an aside, every capped bust half dime that is being sold from the Crain collection by David Perkins will include Steve's original holder too.

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,601 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One of the other consequences of having such a complete reference set online by variety is that it will make the series more collectible, and add to the ranks of collectors of seated half dime varieties.

  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 27, 2019 7:50PM

    @RogerB said:
    I want to reinforce comments by others of the importance of retaining 2x2 or other holder data. These data were not trivial doodling by the collector - they were/are an integral part of the coin variety. They can also aid in detailed examination of coins in relation to larger manufacturing and technology changes.

    If we look at the Steve Crain half dimes, notice that many holders include weight and diameter. Comparing varieties, some appear to be of greater diameter than others, there are weight changes and other differences only obtainable from the original holders.

    Loss of these data is one of the primary defects of slabbing coins (along with loss of edge information). Slabs include only superficial information, unlike Crain's holders. ....

    Edge data is often helpful, although it takes work to obtain it.
    For capped bust half dimes, the reed count was essential for obtaining the full die emission order, and I recall the diameter data was also correlated. Logan and McCloskey called the edge collar the "third die". A photo of the edge can be obtained by placing the coin in a parabolic mirror from a flashlight.
    For Liberty Seated half dimes, it is known that the reed count varied in the 1860s for San Francisco, Philadelphia and Philadelphia proof coins, so it can be used for authentication.

    Judging from the holder photos, Steve cracked out about half of his coins bought in slabs.
    For the slabs, he added a sticker with his (sequential) CoinID number.
    The larger volume of Notes was in his database, keyed to the CoinID.

    Sometime he made cool sketches on his 2x2 holders that don't fit into a text cell in the database.

    Fortunately we can see these in the holder photos!

    For years, @MrHalfDime answered questions on the forums and often included notes from his database describing coins in his Reference Collection. He would often apologize that he had no way to share photos of his coins. We finally get to see them now!

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Congrats @Coinosaurus!

    What an excellent way to honor Steve and provide a legacy for him.

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 28, 2019 7:40AM

    Odd that the coin photo color balances seem to be OK, but the holders are too red - not that it really matters.

  • StaircoinsStaircoins Posts: 2,565 ✭✭✭

    I am so pleased to see Steve's extensive research and reference collection published in this manner and made available for generations of collectors, numismatists and researchers to enjoy.

    Would that we all left such an indelible mark on our own fields. Bravo Steve!

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Amidst all the praise, I remind members and readers that this database would not have been possible except for the generosity of the Eric P Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) and Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP).

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RogerB said:
    Amidst all the praise, I remind members and readers that this database would not have been possible except for the generosity of the Eric P Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) and Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP).

    And by extension, the generosity of Eric P Newman :)

  • StaircoinsStaircoins Posts: 2,565 ✭✭✭

    @RogerB said:
    Amidst all the praise, I remind members and readers that this database would not have been possible except for the generosity of the Eric P Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) and Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP).

    Agree wholeheartedly!

    It is hard to overstate Eric Newman's contribution to numismatics.

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    An aside: So....why doesn't the ANA change the name of it's top award to honor Mr. Newman, rather than the charlatan Zerbe?

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,442 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Would that not diminish the honor of all those who have received the Zerbe?

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 28, 2019 6:10PM

    @yosclimber said:
    And I have the table data (year/mm, V-number, die state, grade, description, Notes, etc.) in an Excel file.
    This makes it easier to compare Steve's notes across several coins / die marriages for a year/mm.


    Thanks to @Coinosaurus, this table data is available on the NNP page directly now:
    https://archive.org/details/SteveCrainSpreadsheet
    And you can use the download options on the lower right to download it as an Excel .xlsx file, or PDF, etc
    It is sorted by year/mm and then by V-number and (often) die state, so the notes for similar coins are grouped together.
    This will be updated from time to time as I assign V-numbers to the ones that Steve had not given numbers to (designated as vq1 in the vn column).

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    Would that not diminish the honor of all those who have received the Zerbe?

    A change in name not meaning.

  • Where are the Steve Crain Half Dimes today ? Purchased ? donated ?

    gregg W
  • BustDMsBustDMs Posts: 1,561 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @flyer33 said:
    Where are the Steve Crain Half Dimes today ? Purchased ? donated ?

    W David Perkins sold most (all?) of the collection. He used to post here but haven't seen anything from him lately. I can contact him directly if you need more information.

    Q: When does a collector become a numismatist?



    A: The year they spend more on their library than their coin collection.



    A numismatist is judged more on the content of their library than the content of their cabinet.
  • RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 518 ✭✭✭✭

    This presentation is just phenomenal and incredibly comprehensive and will surely promote cbhd collecting and enhance its continued research. So I guess in a way Steve did ultimately complete his book.

  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 23, 2023 9:07PM

    A complete book may not not have been possible for Steve, given that he didn't have photos of most of his coins.
    He often lamented that he didn't have photos to share in his posts here.
    But fortunately due to the efforts of W David Perkins and @Coinosaurus for the Newman Numismatic Portal,
    those photos were taken, to go with his database notes and preserve his research work.
    It's a great source for the lshd researcher, and I have fun seeing what he discovered when working on a date-mintmark chapter.

    Steve collected cbhds as well, and much of his collection was documented in some of W David Perkins' PDF catalogs when selling those coins.

  • CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,613 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Steve Herrman did the photography for this project - super work, the man is meticulous! It was truly a team effort, and one of the favorite projects I've done at Newman Portal.

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