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I was (temporarily) the proud discoverer of a new Capped Bust Half Dime die marriage

On August 10, 2023, in a hotel room in Pittsburgh, I was surfing coin dealer websites and auction houses from my laptop. It was my last evening at the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money. I was looking through my scores of bookmarks in a routine I call “running the jewels,” seeking coins I need or want for my capped bust half dime passion. Across the room, my roomie, Dr. Glenn Peterson – numismatist/author/expert/friend – was poring over some numismatic tome or treasure. (And before I go any further, let me just say what a privilege it is to hang out with Glenn for 3 days at a major coin show! “Gentleman and a scholar” is overused but supremely fitting here!)

One of the lots from an unknown/untried auction house caught my eye. I won’t name them here. The pics below show the obverse and reverse of an 1835 half dime. Obverse 2 is easy to spot: the large blocky 8 that looks taller than the fancy 8 on the other two large-date obverses that year. Obverse 2 is known only on one die marriage; paired with reverse AA (large 5c, S1 close to scroll) it comprises LM-3. BUT WAIT: this coin has a small 5c!

I started to get excited: the two sides had differing levels of wear, but could feasibly be from the same coin. And the reverse – which is a "Small 5C" rev CC, as used on LM-5.1, LM-6, and LM-5.2 – was indeed roughly contemporaneous with reverse AA. This (small snippet of the) emission order chart shows how close AA and CC were (if the names LM-3, LM-5, and LM-6 didn't convey that). It also demonstrates that it was a “transition” time at the mint, moving from Large Date to Small Dates on these tiny coins. In sum: it passed enough of the sniff test that I gave it a chance of being REAL. I resolved to buy it. Finding a new die marriage in a series that is almost two centuries old is a big deal - and the find can be quite valuable, to say nothing of the acclaim!

I also resolved not to tell anyone what I was doing. Even Glenn, sitting a few feet away. He and I had already dismantled the possibility of a new remarriage in the 1831 half dimes (based on an interesting specimen shown us by another advanced collector). I knew he’d talk me down off my ledge – and I didn’t want to be talked down just yet. (You know that feeling when you buy a lotto ticket? You know you aren’t gonna win – and yet…)

I crafted a bid that was multiples stronger than the top bid ever should have been (but wasn’t so high as to make the auctioneer pull the coin out of the auction), and submitted that bid through the aggregation site I was on, thinking it would come in at the initial bid level – a low figure – and only increment if I had competition. WRONG. It submitted as my offer, and there I was, all-in, for the world to see. Sigh. I even sent the auctioneer an email the next day, saying I goofed, but that I stood by my offer since a deal’s a deal. But I didn't mean to go all in on the first round!

I won the coin and it took another 11 days to arrive. I eagerly tore the package open to find… drum roll…. a regular LM-3, with the regular Large 5c reverse. Of course. Adding insult to injury: the coin was bent. Because… of course.
I promptly set about the task of securing my full refund. I documented why this was not the coin they pictured in their auction lot.

The email started with:

Dear Yada Yada…
…the coin that was pictured in your auction listing was not the coin you sent, which I received on August 22. The obverse is the same – but the reverse is different. Accordingly, I’m requesting that you issue a full refund in the amount of $337.80 to my Visa card. I also ask that you make arrangements with me so that I may return the coin to you in its original sleeve.

Please note, my complaint isn’t about the condition of the coin, better or worse. This is simply the wrong coin, and no replacement will fix it – thus my request for a full refund. Thanks for your quick attention to correcting this error.

Sincerely, …

And the detailed explanation looked like this, as I felt like saying "reverse AA is not reverse CC" was too minimalist.

At one point a person from the auction emailed me and said they’d have their inventory people look for the missing coin. I assured them they wouldn’t find it. The process moved slowly enough that I doubted their intentions to refund my cost, so I got impatient and filed a complaint with my credit card company. Eventually I got a return shipping label and got my refund, and I’m not sure if my bank’s persuasiveness even factored into that decision. I haven’t bought anything else from them… but I still look at their wares from time to time!

And why did I wait until November to tell this tale? Well, because I just discovered a SUPER COOL BRAND NEW CAPPED BUST HALF DIME MARRIAGE (another 1835, at that) over across the street… check this out:

After I publish this new discovery, my name will be known far and wide!

New website: Groovycoins.com Capped Bust Half Dime registry set: Bikergeek CBHD LM Set

Comments

  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,716 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Oh man, great story. As soon as I saw the auction pics I was pretty sure I knew the ending but that’s still disappointing. And I agree, you gotta take a shot! Especially risking $300.
    Someday…

  • The_Dinosaur_ManThe_Dinosaur_Man Posts: 821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Seems like a case in which there wasn't much communication between the the cataloger, the photographer, and whoever managed the online auction listing. The reverse image in the auction listing clearly belongs to a separate coin but no attention to detail was provided to ensure the accuracy of the listing. The mix-up is easy to understand from a non-collector's point of view because the listed photos show the right type for the coin. Whoever did the final review likely said "yup, good enough" and let it run from there.

    Custom album maker and numismatic photographer, see my portfolio here: (http://www.donahuenumismatics.com/).

  • jacrispiesjacrispies Posts: 670 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A for effort! I believe it is worth the risk every single time, as a new discovery would be incredible.

    The final image made me laugh out loud :D

    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23. Young fellow suffering from Bust Half fever.

  • habaracahabaraca Posts: 1,949 ✭✭✭✭✭

    and now the rest of the story.......

    They found your correct coin and you are right a NEW marriage. They just figured since you made such a big deal getting
    your refund that they would just settled it the way you insisted.

    Keep your eyes out for the new Variety to be announced sometime in the future......

    Hope the above is just a funny story, but i feel it could happen.....

  • ELVIS1ELVIS1 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    That made me laugh, A lot.
    Thx

  • opportunityopportunity Posts: 989 ✭✭✭✭

    LOL, I did this once with a Bust Half. I knew it was a bogus pick, but I had to try. Turns out the seller posted the wrong reverse and it was just a mere 1827 O-105. I didn't send it back because the loss was minimal for me to just re-sell it.

    Early American Copper, Bust and Seated.

  • BikergeekBikergeek Posts: 179 ✭✭✭✭

    Epilog: I did email a few folks, including Glenn, about my "near miss." Next time I talked to Glenn, he said, "sooo... you thought you had a new die marriage, eh? heheheheh" and I just had to laugh!

    New website: Groovycoins.com Capped Bust Half Dime registry set: Bikergeek CBHD LM Set

  • Davidk7Davidk7 Posts: 201 ✭✭✭

    Great story! Can't believe you kept this from us in Pittsburgh :D

    Collector of Capped Bust Halves, SLQ's, Commems, and random cool stuff! @davidv_numismatics on Instagram

  • calgolddivercalgolddiver Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭✭✭

    thanks for sharing a very educational story !

    Top 25 Type Set 1792 to present

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  • BikergeekBikergeek Posts: 179 ✭✭✭✭

    @Davidk7 said:
    Great story! Can't believe you kept this from us in Pittsburgh :D

    It was my last evening there, and I flew out the next morning - so I didn't have any in-person contacts with you good numismatic folk where I woulda been tempted to spill the beans. heheh

    New website: Groovycoins.com Capped Bust Half Dime registry set: Bikergeek CBHD LM Set

  • TomthecoinguyTomthecoinguy Posts: 849 ✭✭✭✭

    @habaraca said:
    and now the rest of the story.......

    They found your correct coin and you are right a NEW marriage. They just figured since you made such a big deal getting
    your refund that they would just settled it the way you insisted.

    Keep your eyes out for the new Variety to be announced sometime in the future......

    Hope the above is just a funny story, but i feel it could happen.....

    Nice try, but he said the Obverse matched the coin he received. lol

  • OverdateOverdate Posts: 6,892 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Is the second coin a "wrong denomination" error, Type OR (Oversized Reverse)?
    If so, should be worth at least double face.

    My Adolph A. Weinman signature :)

  • BStrauss3BStrauss3 Posts: 3,036 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The most likely answer is they mixed up the photographs...

    Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

    -----Burton
    ANA 50 year/Life Member (now "Emeritus")
  • BikergeekBikergeek Posts: 179 ✭✭✭✭

    @BStrauss3 said:
    The most likely answer is they mixed up the photographs...

    Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

    Yuppers, I did email them and they responded quickly and said that they'd fix it - and it's already fixed. Interestingly, it also happens to be an 1835 LM-3. Hmmm.... https://www.ngccoin.com/certlookup/6344419-002/62/

    New website: Groovycoins.com Capped Bust Half Dime registry set: Bikergeek CBHD LM Set

  • BustDMsBustDMs Posts: 1,559 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Bikergeek said:
    Epilog: I did email a few folks, including Glenn, about my "near miss." Next time I talked to Glenn, he said, "sooo... you thought you had a new die marriage, eh? heheheheh" and I just had to laugh!

    When I read this I just heard Jabba laughing at you. 😝

    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.
  • logger7logger7 Posts: 7,955 ✭✭✭✭✭

    NGC obverse/reverse discoveries abound now as their imaging department is overworked. I have a two headed one.

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

    another H10C guy here had a similar discovery for 1837. I think Mr Halfdime had one too. All for naught.

  • That 1835 with the Washington quarter reverse is the Tardis discovery coin: Where the reverse is bigger than the obverse.

  • BECOKABECOKA Posts: 16,957 ✭✭✭

    Crazy fun story.....made my morning.

  • RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 515 ✭✭✭✭

    Has happened to me, luckily my pace maker is not made in China............errr at least I was told it wasn't

  • Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,596 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well played, most enjoyable read. Thanks. Peace Roy

    BST: endeavor1967, synchr, kliao, Outhaul, Donttellthewife, U1Chicago, ajaan, mCarney1173, SurfinHi, MWallace, Sandman70gt, mustanggt, Pittstate03, Lazybones, Walkerguy21D, coinandcurrency242 , thebigeng, Collectorcoins, JimTyler, USMarine6, Elkevvo, Coll3ctor, Yorkshireman, CUKevin, ranshdow, CoinHunter4, bennybravo, Centsearcher, braddick, Windycity, ZoidMeister, mirabela, JJM, RichURich, Bullsitter, jmski52

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