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Two questions about the 1842-O small date half dollar

BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited August 22, 2023 2:48PM in U.S. Coin Forum

1) How many still exist?

Bill Bugert in his Registry of New Orleans SLH Die Marriages, Part I, lists each of the two DMs for the 42-O small date as R5s (31-75 coins exist), thereby putting the range at 62- 150 coins.

In the LSCC survey by Wiley in 1980, the 42-O SD was FIFTH in fewest examples (12 coins) behind the 1847/6 (2 coins), 1873 open 3 (4 coins), the 1878-S (6 coins), 1855/54 (8 coins), and the 1844-O doubled date (10). The 70CC, 74CC and 78CC had 13, 20 and 18 examples respectively, while the 50, 51, 52, and 52-O yielded 20, 14, 16, and 18 examples.

In the LSCC survey by Spangler in 1992, the 42-O SD was THIRD in terms of fewest examples reported (21 coins), behind the 1878-S (8 coins) and 1873 open 3 (11 coins). The 70CC, 74CC, and 78CC had 37, 31, and 32 examples, while the 1850, 1851, 1852, and 1852-O had 32, 31, 26, and 31 examples.

PCGS says about 100 exist in Coin Prices and rates the coin as tied for FIFTH rarest with a rarity rating of 8.5 (= about 100 coins exist). However, they tally 95 coins graded in PCGS holders, and NGC lists 40 graded in their holders. Plus, there are undoubtedly dozens of coins not in PCGS or NGC holders. Mine is in an ICG holder. I would estimate the total number at somewhere between 150-250 examples. Any comments on this estimate?

2) Are coin grades affected by die condition?

I assume yes. I ask because the WB-1 I purchased at FUN is well known to have weak dies, particularly the reverse die. My ICG VG10 shows VF20 wear on the obverse shield and lower drapery, with 6 letters in LIBERTY showing clearly and the E faint. However, the upper drapery is weak. The reverse shows decent detail on the outer wings but the left side of the eagle to the claws is a lump. Did the weak areas on the eagle and upper drapery hurt my grade?

I assume 'poor dies result in poor grades'. That there is no adjusting for a weak die as one would a weak strike up to a certain mint state. However, I do see other WB-1s with comparable wear as mine receiving F15 and even VF20 grades. Anyway, I like "reverse of 39" coins, this rare date might be fun to research, and I like this coin's details and toning. Therefore, I anticipate either an upgrade or a learning experience when I try to cross it. I like my chances for an upgrade. I'll try to get better photos.

Here's an MS62 WB-1 showing poor reverse details.

3 rim nicks away from Good

Comments

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    HoledandCreativeHoledandCreative Posts: 2,766 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Your estimate seems very reasonable. I wonder why it is no longer listed in 2023 spiral Redbook. I am still looking for a holed one. That is what I collect. I only have 1850-P and 1870-CC of the survey dates.

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    RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 611 ✭✭✭✭

    In my life in numismatics I have found that the grading cos are not always the experts like we may assume, they really cannot be , since one must be a specialist with this particular die marriage. Like you stated, the strike is extremely weak, as clearly shown on an ms62 version. Many times weakly struck coins such as the ms62 don't get ms grade due to the weak strike. I have never seen this die marriage but I am instantly attracted to it and like you find it fascinating. Also trusting old research and current pops can be problematic over time with new facts emerging. So the question begs who do you trust. Either some fellow collector who knows this series and die marriage or possibly yourself since you are rapidly becoming an expert. Knowledge is king and nobody knows everything and new info changes everything.
    Thank you for resenting this interesting specimen, I really enjoyed.

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    Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 3,700 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great thread and analysis!

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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 23, 2023 9:35PM

    @RobertScotLover said:
    In my life in numismatics I have found that the grading cos are not always the experts like we may assume, they really cannot be , since one must be a specialist with this particular die marriage. Like you stated, the strike is extremely weak, as clearly shown on an ms62 version. Many times weakly struck coins such as the ms62 don't get ms grade due to the weak strike. I have never seen this die marriage but I am instantly attracted to it and like you find it fascinating. Also trusting old research and current pops can be problematic over time with new facts emerging. So the question begs who do you trust. Either some fellow collector who knows this series and die marriage or possibly yourself since you are rapidly becoming an expert. Knowledge is king and nobody knows everything and new info changes everything.
    Thank you for resenting this interesting specimen, I really enjoyed.

    That's a very nice, perceptive answer. I consider my curiosity over the 42-O SD as another step on the road in this hobby. I've confronted that question often in my work in freshwater biology*, and I'm a die-hard "Splitter." It also hints at motivation, which is to gain knowledge and perhaps some expertise (and all that comes with it, including profit). I haven't found much written about the 42-O SD and I'm surprised as I really like this 'reverse of 39' variety. So, there's only one way to find the answers...

    I'm already mentally outlining the data I need, the resources available online to start answering some questions, and am considering its worthiness for an article in the Gobrecht Journal. And more questions keep arising! For example, the two best examples of the 42-O SD represent one each of the two die marriages, suggesting differences in wear between the dies.
    Thanks for your reply.

    • = My advisor in college said there's a strong relationship between "collectors" (coins, stamps, shells, marbles, etc.) and having the mental aptitude and discipline to do invertebrate taxonomy. He was an avid stamp collector who would buy stamps by the pound, searching for new ones for his collection. As an entomologist, he did exactly the same thing collecting insect pupal exuviae from all over the world. He was a 100% PURE collector. The first thing he asked me after we'd met and discussed work material was, "So, what do you like to collect?"
    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @HoledandCreative said:
    Your estimate seems very reasonable. I wonder why it is no longer listed in 2023 spiral Redbook. I am still looking for a holed one. That is what I collect. I only have 1850-P and 1870-CC of the survey dates.

    I thought I saw a holed example (or real cheap example about $500) recently, but I have to hunt down where I saw it.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 23, 2023 9:34PM

    @LJenkins11 said:
    I very much look forward to additional information on the 42-O SD. I was fortunate to snag a WB-2 PCGS XF-45 a few years ago and regardless of the third-party estimates both the WB-1 and 2 are not frequent in the marketplace.

    Your WB-2 is beautiful and well struck. It has very little of the weakness that many of the WB-1s show, but there is a little bit of weakness on the reverse upper left shield edge and adjacent feathers. I see that in both DMs. The eagle's head and neck are really strong! The overall look reminds me of your 1852 and that bone dry 1878-CC.

    At the moment, there are four 42-O SDs on eBay, two of each DM. There is also an 1842 SD reverse of 39 on eBay as well - $195K or best offer. The 42-O is hard to find in grades EF and above; most are in lower grades.

    Coin Facts features photos of 3 WB-1s and 7 WB-2s. The top coin is an MS62 WB-1 and shows little die '"trouble", #2 is an MS62 WB-2. All the WB-2s look to be fairly well struck with no obvious weakness. The two VF20 WB-1s have the same weak strike my coin has and only a trace more detail. In comparison with these coins, in terms of wear, my coin is comfortably an F15 and pushing VF20. It gives me some optimism for a crossover.

    Coin Facts misidentified a WB-2 as a WB-1 on their WB-1 page. Their WB-2 page is OK. I hope it's just a typo. However, I see that from time to time and oftentimes the auction prices listed for DM pages are for other DMs.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭

    How does a die (WB-1) go from producing coins like this (PCGS MS62)...

    To producing ugly coins like this (WB-1, MS62 - Bugert, 2011: p. 86)?

    A dollop of grease? A crumbling die? My guess would be grease. I'm going to have to read up on die making and striking problems.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    rheddenrhedden Posts: 6,619 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've been tempted to purchase one several times over the years, but finding a nice one in VF or better isn't so easy. I would imagine it's out of the question with Seated halves being a hot commodity these days.

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    HoledandCreativeHoledandCreative Posts: 2,766 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian Thank you,

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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @HoledandCreative said:
    @Barberian Thank you,

    Did you happen to find the holed 1842-O?

    Do you have a holed 55/54?

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    RichieURichRichieURich Posts: 8,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, Southcounty, that is a gorgeous 1842-O small date half dollar! Congratulations!

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

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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 19, 2023 1:03PM

    @Southcounty said:

    1842-0 Small Date. B-4758. AU-58 (PCGS). Wiley-Bugert: 101.

    Rarity-6+.

    Strike: Bold.

    Pedigree: Ex American Auction Association, Terrell Collection, May 18, 1973, Lot 479.

    Weren't they also mixed in with the 1841-Os as well in the first months' mintage reports? The reported mintages (203K) are suspected to be too high for the coin's rarity. Bill Bugert says it's reverse F of 1841-O.

    Thanks for your remarks. That's a beautiful 42-O small date!

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,557 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Southcounty said:
    I collect 1842-O seated halves by die marriage and the 1842-O small date has always been a favorite of mine. Many years ago the Pryor specimen, which was at various times considered the finest known, was at Heritage in an OGH holder with the Pryor provenance noted on the holder. It eventually sold and was crossed to an NGC MS61 holder and the provenance was lost. When it went to auction at Legend I recognized it as being the Pryor specimen, even though it was not noted in the lot description and secured it for my collection. According to the PCGS and NGC pops there are only 3 unc examples, the two PCGS examples, one being the former Gardner Collection piece and the other from the Eliasberg Collection and then there is the NGC Pryor example. The PCGS pops still show the AU58 Pryor coin, even though it has been removed and is now the NGC MS61 example. This one anecdotal example gives some credit to the fact that the pops are more likely over estimating the actual number of examples in existence to some degree at least at the high end of the spectrum. @Barberian you might find the narrative below as highlighted to be of some interest with regard to the reverse being used for 1841-O examples.




    This example was described in the James Pryor Auction Catalog in January 1996, lot 106 as follows:

    1842-0 Small Date. B-4758. AU-58 (PCGS). Wiley-Bugert: 101.

    Rarity-6+.

    Strike: Bold.

    Surfaces: Light golden brown. A few scattered marks are mentioned for accuracy, these consistent with the grade. Slight friction is visible on Liberty’s right leg and breast.

    Die State: A faint obverse crack from the rim at 7:00 extends to the shield. A weak crack from the inner point of star 11 passes star 12 and disappears in the field. On the reverse a thin crack from the rim at 6:30 extends between AL of HALF to the eagle’s middle talon on the left claw.

    Narrative: One of the two known reverse dies was also used on coins dated 1841 but in an earlier die state than the 1841 issue. Therefore this issue was struck before the 1841-0 issue. One of the two varieties must have been struck in the wrong year.

    Although technically not Uncirculated, this lovely coin has the aesthetic appeal, and therefore possibly the value, of a piece grading perhaps MS-62 or MS-63. The distinction is moot, as at AU-55 it is far and away the finest certified by PCGS. When offered by us in the Terrell Collection sale, we suggested that the prospective purchaser “bid on this coin with the reasonable expectation that it will be the finest you will ever have a chance to purchase.” James Bennett Pryor took this advice, and indeed, he never had a chance to purchase a finer specimen. Based on his experience, we feel that the advice is even more important today, for it may be another 24 years, or longer, before the current purchaser offers this coin again.

    PCGS Population: Before the passing of this coin through the portals of the PCGS facilities the finest was AU-50. As a point of reference, the best certified by NCC grades Very Fine.

    Pedigree: Ex American Auction Association, Terrell Collection, May 18, 1973, Lot 479.

    I love that coin in the correct OGH!

    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.
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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,051 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The WB2's reverse B was used three times in minting 1841-O halves WB7, WB9, and WB10 AFTER the 42-O WB2s were struck. Strange coin. The mintage is just a guess as both 1841-O and 1842-O coins were shipped together in January and February, 1842.

    @Southcounty, do you have the WB1 as well?

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    SouthcountySouthcounty Posts: 631 ✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian said:
    The WB2's reverse B was used three times in minting 1841-O halves WB7, WB9, and WB10 AFTER the 42-O WB2s were struck. Strange coin. The mintage is just a guess as both 1841-O and 1842-O coins were shipped together in January and February, 1842.

    @Southcounty, do you have the WB1 as well?

    I have all of the 1842-O die marriages in relatively high grade except for the WB-1 which I consider to be slightly more difficult to find than the WB-2. I have had many opportunities to add the WB-1, but I have been picky in looking for the perfect example to match my set. This is a great date to collect by die marriage from both mints, as the 1842-P has been a very fun journey as well with some really tough marriages.

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    LeeroybrownLeeroybrown Posts: 429 ✭✭✭✭✭

    …just another example to add to this thread…

    I believe it’s a WB-1…. The scarcer variety.

    Was an upgrade from my previous example (see pic of old below)

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    LeeroybrownLeeroybrown Posts: 429 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Old coin that I just upgraded…

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