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Primer on Collecting Early Dollars: Part 4, Reference Material

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This is the fourth and final installment of my primer. Here, we will go over some of the better available reference material for understanding ED's.


1. The Bolender book on Early Dollars. This book is the classical book on attributing early dollars. It is dated and doesn't contain newly discovered die marriages nor has it been updated with the latest rarity ratings. It also doesn't really touch on die states nor condition census specimens.


It is from this book that the Bolender system of enumerating die marriages is derived.


2. The recent Jules Reiver book is a modern version of the Bolender book, but it too is short on die states. Several of the plates that he used were composites and not of an actual coin. His rarity ratings also significantly disagreed with that of the John Reich Collectors Society estimates. Most specialists use the JRCS ratings, and you can cherrypick a variety that Reiver rates as more common than the JRCS rating.


3. The Bowers-Borckardt encyclopedia on Silver Dollars (circa early 1990's). I like this book quite a bit. It has lots of information regarding notable specimens, grade population estimates, rarity estimates, die state information, die marriage attribution and general interesting historical information.


The rarity estimates also differ from that of the JRCS. This encyclopedia also contains an easy-guide to attributing ED die marriages. You can easily photocopy the few pages and carry it around the shows with you.


It is from this book that the Bowers-Borckardt (BB) system of attribution is derived.


Supposedly, Bowers and Borckardt is working on an update of this famous encyclopedia.


4. Auction catalogs. There are several auction catalogs that come to mind: 1975 Superior ANA; Bowers (Flannagan, 11/01); Heritage CSNS (Silverman, 4/02); Superior Elite (Cardinal, 1/02); Heritage FUN (Hering, 1/02); Goldbergs pre-LB (San Marino, 9/02); Heritage LB (Albany, 9/02).


These auction catalogs give you a lot of research information as well as pricing information. It's interesting to look at the Hering collection and the prices realized. His was essentially an accumulation of as many ED's as he can find. The quality of his material as varied, and the prices reflected that.


5. The John Reich Journal. This is a twice (or thrice) annual publication of the JRCS, and contains much scholarly information about all Bust coinage, including ED's. To join, go to www.jrcs.org.


ED's, as with all such early material, is best collected with a lot of patience and knowledge. Take the time to read and to learn; to many, the learning is sometimes even more enjoyable than the acquisition of the coin.




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