Written by John Dale
Even more disturbing than the generally poor quality of coin collecting humor is the number of people who repeat it, not because they know it’s bad, but because they believe it’s good. Self-awareness isn’t the most common trait among coin collectors. Then again, we do have the capacity for rare flashes of insight and self-understanding, as evidenced by the best coin club name of all time: the Bust Half Nut Club.
There has never been greater truth in numismatic advertising. Bust Half nutters are obsessed with Bust half dollars; they know they’re obsessed, and they’re at peace with it.
“To be considered as a candidate for BHNC membership, and individual must own a minimum of 100 different Bust die marriages by Overton attribution,” etc. That means 100 distinctly different matchups of obverse and reverse dies… and the documentation to prove it. Like I said, self-awareness.
A prominent Bust Half nut was the late Donald R. Frederick, whose collection of early U.S. coinage, alias “Bayside Part II,”is an important Featured Collection in the upcoming April 2010 Central States auction. Mr. Frederick’s collection went far beyond the 100-variety minimum; in fact, Heritage is auctioning 443 separate varieties from his collection!
The varieties range from relatively common to scarce and even very rare. Picking out a single half dollar highlight is difficult, but the 1827 Overton-148 (that is, the 48th die marriage identified and listed in the Overton reference) is a safe pick. It is one of just 14 to 15 pieces believed known—and one of just 12 coins accounted for in our census—with a grade of VF35 awarded by PCGS.
While there will be a great deal of interest in Mr. Frederick’s coins, I am particularly interested in how a certain non-coin lot turns out. Lot 3370 contains two copies of the Overton die variety reference, one a First Edition signed by the author to Mr. Frederick, the other a Revised Edition with extensive annotations in Mr. Frederick’s hand. The latter was Mr. Frederick’s “working copy” of Overton, his personal and well-traveled guide to Bust half dollars that can now pass into another’s hands. For the devoted student of Bust halves, this well-worn book of Mr. Frederick’s may prove more valuable than any piece of silver.
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-John Dale Beety