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Found a Gorgeous (Circulated) Barber Half Dollar of an Issue that has Always Vexed Me

TomBTomB Posts: 20,737 ✭✭✭✭✭

Please note that I had to put circulated in parenthesis in the title so that I would not give Eldorado9 a heart attack trying to open the thread too quickly!

I’ve been collecting Barber coinage (circulated, mint state and proof) for over a quarter-century and have been heavily involved with Barber half dollars for over two decades. In the mid-1990s I picked up copies of the David (Feigenbaum) Lawrence (DLRC now) books on the quarter and half dollar series and I’ve never lost my love of these coins. Those DLRC books were an unparalleled resource in the days before the internet and they are still relevant and full of valuable information today.

The DLRC quarter book mentioned the mid-grade 1897-S as being David’s favorite issue and that they were never found, and when they were, they disappeared immediately. His experience mirrored mine with respect to that coin and I always look for nice examples of it while never truly expecting to find coins that make the cut for quality. The DLRC half dollar book mentioned how scarce the 1907-S is in anything above strict F12 and that there was always heavy collector demand for such coins. He also wrote that this was the most difficult mint state coin in the latter part of the series, which I assume means from 1905 onward. I have also found the 1907-S to be a true bear of a coin to find nice, original and with meat left on it, but I do not venture into the MS grades for this coin.

Starting in the late 1990s, and lasting for around a dozen years, I built a complete raw set of original skinned, VF30-ish Barber half dollars housed within a pair of vintage Library of Coins folders. Those folders were heavy when the complete 73-coin set was inside! The weakest coins in the set were the 1893-S, 1904-S and 1907-S. Try as I might, and I tried a lot, I just couldn’t find the right coin for those three slots and so I ended up with F15-VF20 coins for those examples. Please note that in those years, just as today, I could find certified examples of these coins in the grades that I was looking, but I could not find certified examples that met my quality standards for surface preservation or eye appeal. That set was broken up and sold long ago, but I still look through Barber half dollars and when “the right” coins show up I have no hesitation to buy them. Currently, that means I have three mint state pieces and a half-dozen circulated examples.

Recently, an example of the 1907-S issue popped up in an auction venue and I immediately knew that the coin belonged with me. The online images were not very good and the seller did not hype the coin up at all, but I felt that I knew how to interpret the images correctly and also knew that I really wanted to acquire that example. Just after the coin was listed, I contacted the seller, told them I intended to win the auction and requested that they package the coin carefully so that it would not be damaged during transit. The auction ended with only tepid bidding and I attribute this to the poor images that weren’t lit sufficiently and made interpretation of the surfaces far more difficult than one would expect.

The coin arrived recently and I took images of it. I’d grade it a strong VF, likely a VF30, but I could see someone else lobbying for a VF35 or critiquing it as a VF25. It makes no difference to me. The coin hasn’t been cleaned, it doesn’t have verdigris all over it and there are no unfortunate digs or scrapes on it. It’s simply an original, attractive example of an issue that has vexed me for more than two decades. I am very pleased.

Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

image

Comments

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    jedmjedm Posts: 2,944 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That one's got a really nice wholesome look to her Tom, a definite keeper!

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    pursuitoflibertypursuitofliberty Posts: 6,596 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice write up ... and good call keeping @Eldorado9 from having a heart attack ... or more likely, breaking his fingers and spilling his espresso!! :D:D:D

    That's a tough nut, for sure ... nice pick! I never saw a ChAU 07-S I liked, I know that. In fact, not sure I ever held one I would consider a real ChAU. Hmmmm ....

    Anyway, I agree with your assessment from the images ... 25 to 30, and solid. Congrat's!!


    “We are only their care-takers,” he posed, “if we take good care of them, then centuries from now they may still be here … ”

    Todd - BHNC #242
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    FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,857 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Knowing @Eldorado9 well, I must say your warning is a good idea :lol:.

    Great coin with fantastic original surfaces. It’s getting increasingly harder to find material like that. Honestly, I don’t often look at circulated coins (I deal mainly in proofs), but I can tell this one is a hard coin to get nice from your description. Congrats!

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

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    Dave99BDave99B Posts: 8,364 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, this is a nice wholesome 07-S. Damn tough mid-grade date.

    I’m slowly working on a PCGS VF set, and that’s one of my holes. It’s a tough one to locate in original condition. Nice pick up Tom!

    Dave

    Always looking for original, better date VF20-VF35 Barber quarters and halves, and a quality beer.
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    fcfc Posts: 12,789 ✭✭✭
    edited December 5, 2022 11:07PM

    I know this is blasphemy but did the thought cross your mind to have the ?dirt? removed from the chin hoping it was just debris and under it was the normal grey toning? It almost looks like a dirty bubble gummish gooey spot you see stuck to a floor if you follow me. I have mopped a lot of floors in my time :-|

    What does it look like under magnification? Could it just come right off with the lightest dab of a cue tip or even the rub of a thumb on it? Or is that just a dark toning spot?

    Just curious. It is very nice circulated piece.

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    TomBTomB Posts: 20,737 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @fc said:
    I know this is blasphemy but did the thought cross your mind to have the ?dirt? removed from the chin hoping it was just debris and under it was the normal grey toning? It almost looks like a dirty bubble gummish gooey spot you see stuck to a floor if you follow me. I have mopped a lot of floors in my time :-|

    What does it look like under magnification? Could it just come right off with the lightest dab of a cue tip or even the rub of a thumb on it? Or is that just a dark toning spot?

    Just curious. It is very nice circulated piece.

    I'm not worried about the adhered gunk on Ms. Liberty's chin. It's just gunk and I have no interest in finding out what the surface might look like if it were removed. I wouldn't get so romantic as to state that it is part of the "history" of the coin, but I also don't believe in washing, spot-cleaning or otherwise spiffing up a coin unless it has something that I know is dangerous to the surfaces on it. Of course, when I am gone and the next owner has the piece then they can do what they want with it.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
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    gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Looks like a decent example. Maybe a harmless acetone bath for it?

    Successful BST with ad4400, Kccoin, lablover, pointfivezero, koynekwest, jwitten, coin22lover, HalfDimeDude, erwindoc, jyzskowsi, COINS MAKE CENTS, AlanSki, BryceM

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    CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,605 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Tom - love your post and the description of your journey to find just the right coin. Truly our hobby can be a "labor of love!"

    While I don't collect Barbers, I can tell you scored a nice original coin. Big congratulations and I'm very happy for you!

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB ... That is a very nice coin. Shows commerce, but a gentle commerce - allowing the coin to age gracefully. Cheers, RickO

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    Eldorado9Eldorado9 Posts: 2,113 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 6, 2022 8:25AM

    A gorgeous example of the 1907-s, and yes one of my favorite dates in the series @tomb Enjoy it my friend, you have a "needle in the haystack" coin there. Beautiful, and original, and deserves to stay that way. PS, Oh how I would have loved to have seen your half collection in the album!

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    TreashuntTreashunt Posts: 6,747 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have to admit that I have a 'small' hoard of Barbers.

    Mostly the dimes & quarters, but a bunch of half dollars.

    That said, I just checked, and
    1) Agree with Lawrence, the 1897 S is one of my favorites.
    I have found 4 pieces that only I liked, 2 are AG's one VG-08 and one F-12.
    A really tough date.

    2) As for the 1907 S, I also agree, tough date in any original condition [uncleaned, un-messed with].
    In AG to G they are available, in VG much tougher, I only have #3 in VG

    Frank

    BHNC #203

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    FranklinHalfAddictFranklinHalfAddict Posts: 651 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very very nice. Congrats!

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    lkeneficlkenefic Posts: 7,831 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Beautiful! Surprisingly difficult to find in lightly circulated condition... enjoy!!

    Collecting: Dansco 7070; Middle Date Large Cents (VF-AU); Box of 20;

    Successful BST transactions with: SilverEagles92; Ahrensdad; Smitty; GregHansen; Lablade; Mercury10c; copperflopper; whatsup; KISHU1; scrapman1077, crispy, canadanz, smallchange, robkool, Mission16, ranshdow, ibzman350, Fallguy, Collectorcoins, SurfinxHI, jwitten, Walkerguy21D, dsessom.
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    Project NumismaticsProject Numismatics Posts: 1,338 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Love original Barber halves. Have been working on a circulated set for over 10 years. It’s a huge challenge to the find these coins - congrats on a fine acquisition!

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    JimnightJimnight Posts: 10,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:

    @fc said:
    I know this is blasphemy but did the thought cross your mind to have the ?dirt? removed from the chin hoping it was just debris and under it was the normal grey toning? It almost looks like a dirty bubble gummish gooey spot you see stuck to a floor if you follow me. I have mopped a lot of floors in my time :-|

    What does it look like under magnification? Could it just come right off with the lightest dab of a cue tip or even the rub of a thumb on it? Or is that just a dark toning spot?

    Just curious. It is very nice circulated piece.

    I'm not worried about the adhered gunk on Ms. Liberty's chin. It's just gunk and I have no interest in finding out what the surface might look like if it were removed. I wouldn't get so romantic as to state that it is part of the "history" of the coin, but I also don't believe in washing, spot-cleaning or otherwise spiffing up a coin unless it has something that I know is dangerous to the surfaces on it. Of course, when I am gone and the next owner has the piece then they can do what they want with it.

    I like the way you express your thoughts about the spot on the chin.

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    coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,771 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Beautiful coin and congrats on finding one that checks all the boxes.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
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    coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,795 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wonderful coin 25 is harsh- I see 30 but it may fall short of 35. I would need to see it in hand before going there. The best news is the coin is in good hands. Congrats

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,056 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 6, 2022 1:31PM

    Looks like a VF30 to me.

    Why is this date in mid-grades so rare? Is this by chance or was there some factor involved in its present scarcity. The Great SF earthquake and fire happened in 1906, so the 04-S being rare is understandable. Can't say that for 1907-S halves of which 1.25 million were supposedly minted in 1907.

    Congrats in finding this nice 1907-S.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    stevefromnestevefromne Posts: 129 ✭✭✭

    I have completed a Barber Half set, virtually all VF-AU, a few MS coins mixed in. Only one sub VF, the '07-S (NGC F12). I check regularly online . Like Tom, my set is in the two LOC's. For a GREAT read, go to Tom's blog, and look for the Barber Half pieces he did, both the cliff notes and the published piece. They focus primarily on original VF-XF specimens and how truly scarce they are. Perhaps the FUN Show will yield an upgrade or two.

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    Dug13Dug13 Posts: 234 ✭✭✭

    I don't dabble that series, but greatly enjoyed the write up.

    Wall of HONOR transaction list:WonderCoin, CoinFlip, Masscrew, Travintiques, lordmarcovan, Jinx86, Gerard, ElKevvo

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    RichieURichRichieURich Posts: 8,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice coin, Tom! Congratulations on acquiring it!

    An authorized PCGS dealer, and a contributor to the Red Book.

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    LogPotatoLogPotato Posts: 2,172 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 6, 2022 5:29PM

    I had to buy my 07-S in VF from Australia. The 07-S and 06-S always seem to be hard to find nice. Congratulations on your nice example.

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    TomBTomB Posts: 20,737 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian said:
    Looks like a VF30 to me.

    Why is this date in mid-grades so rare? Is this by chance or was there some factor involved in its present scarcity. The Great SF earthquake and fire happened in 1906, so the 04-S being rare is understandable. Can't say that for 1907-S halves of which 1.25 million were supposedly minted in 1907.

    Congrats in finding this nice 1907-S.

    Thank you for your kind words and comment. In my mind, I had always assumed that the 1906 earthquake played a factor in the difficulty in finding these coins with meat. The immediate aftermath of the earthquake likely saw a building boom in San Fransisco and I imagine that the available coinage was released from the mint quickly and then immediately saw heavy commerce. It's highly doubtful that this might explain all of the difficulty in finding this issue nice, but it would not surprise me if it helped the scarcity along.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
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    TomBTomB Posts: 20,737 ✭✭✭✭✭

    By the way, thank you all greatly for the kind comments. I'm really happy that others can find this coin attractive, as well.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
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    vulcanizevulcanize Posts: 1,339 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you for the very nice write up. Really enjoyed reading it.

    Gives me the motivation to send my collection in for grading. :blush:

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    GotTheBugGotTheBug Posts: 1,547 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One has to be a real sleuth to track down the nice original coins. Well done Mr. Holmes, er, Tom B.

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    NumisOxideNumisOxide Posts: 10,989 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It is a nice nice! Nice surfaces.

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    RayboRaybo Posts: 5,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Pat yourself on the back Tom...Well done!

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    Cool coin Tom, congrats on the find.

    I collect bits and pieces of everything
    or should I say I ACCUMULATE!
    I also dabble with the darkside image

    Ive recently gotten more into currency, especially modern star notes
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    DisneyFanDisneyFan Posts: 1,722 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:

    In the mid-1990s I picked up copies of the David (Feigenbaum) Lawrence (DLRC now) books on the quarter and half dollar series and I’ve never lost my love of these coins. Those DLRC books were an unparalleled resource in the days before the internet and they are still relevant and full of valuable information today.

    The DLRC quarter book mentioned the mid-grade 1897-S as being David’s favorite issue and that they were never found, and when they were, they disappeared immediately. His experience mirrored mine with respect to that coin and I always look for nice examples of it while never truly expecting to find coins that make the cut for quality. The DLRC half dollar book mentioned how scarce the 1907-S is in anything above strict F12 and that there was always heavy collector demand for such coins. He also wrote that this was the most difficult mint state coin in the latter part of the series, which I assume means from 1905 onward.

    @TomB said:

    In my mind, I had always assumed that the 1906 earthquake played a factor in the difficulty in finding these coins with meat. The immediate aftermath of the earthquake likely saw a building boom in San Fransisco and I imagine that the available coinage was released from the mint quickly and then immediately saw heavy commerce. It's highly doubtful that this might explain all of the difficulty in finding this issue nice, but it would not surprise me if it helped the scarcity along.

    All that talk about quarters and half dollars! What about me, me!

    Bowers in his Barber Silver Coins books refers to the scarcity of all three 1907-S as a puzzle. You may actually have given the explanation!

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