Caught in a Conundrum



to unslab or leave slabbed?

Since I finished up my Walker Short Set I've decided to take a break from higher priced coins and registry hunting. Instead I've started 2 albums and am really enjoying working on them. A little insight into how I'm building my Barber Half Set........

I really, really like the look of a Barber in the VG8-10 grade to VF30 range. The reason I'm not hunting for higher grades is for several reasons.

One is obviously the money involved. Barber halves are a relatively low-mintage series with the majority of dates having less than 2,000,000 minted. In fact, the "short set" I'm building (1900-1915) has no less than 13 different issues with mintages under 1 million.

When you factor in that these coins were actually used in circulation, the numbers of scratched, dinged and damaged ones, the melted ones, --along with smaller mintages and what do you get? A challenging set to build and a lot of fun !! With the scarcity of quality circulated coins the price jumps are pretty dramatic when you get toward the XF range ( many above $500, too much for me for an unslabbed album coin).

The second reason I don't go above the VF grade is that once you hit XF with these the "look" of them changes. Besides the obvious increased details, often these coins become "whiter" with some slight luster even. These coins stick out like a sore thumb in my album of VG's to VF's. Plus I LIKE the color and judging the nuances between a VG10 and an F12.

Which brings me around to my conundrum. Three of the dates in my 49 coin Barber "short Set" are really low mintage and higher in price even at grades of G04-VG8. The 1913, 1914 and 1915 all have mintages LESS THAN 200,000 !! With the increased cost I figured I'd play it safe and buy these in slabs and crack them out for my album.

I just bought the 1915 P about 2 weeks ago and got it earlier this week. Housed in a PCGS VG10 slab I got a decent deal at $160. I really like the look of the coin--nice color, ding and scratch free..the only problem is that the coin is closer to a borderline VG8 details. I really don't like to crackout coins that may get downgraded in the future--but I also want this coin to fill the hole in my album--I'll probably crack it out in the end, after all, that was the point-an ALBUM set.

Speaking of the album, there are no "Barber Short Set" albums in production. However I was able to find a Dansco album that just says "Half Dollars" on the cover. I took the time to write the dates on little pieces of label, cut them to size and stick them in--creating my own album. (I even have an extra page more than I need for this set which I'm using for other collectible halves I have) that is what I've been up to with my collecting. I'm really enjoying it..I can't wait for the Whitman Convention in Baltimore--I'm sure there will be plenty of examples to fill some album holes there..




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