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Bust Half. What would create such a difference in the wear from the obverse to reverse?

5 posts in this topic

...complex issue so many possible variables...i have seen n own several low ball coins where one side usually reverse is po-01 grade n other side is ag3 grade...one would think normal circulation be fairly even wear both sides, cant think of any reason thru normal commerce where coin would always be turned a certain way that would cause such uneven wear...possibly the strike was weak on the reverse n rims low n more wear??....

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   The 1836-37 Capped Bust, reeded edge half dollars with the denomination expressed as "50 CENTS" had a much narrower, shallower rim on the reverse than the obverse. This weak reverse rim didn't provide much protection for the reverse details, causing the reverse to show more wear than the reverse. The 1838-39 coins with the denomination expressed as "HALF DOL." have a wider, deeper reverse rim.

   NGC graded this 1836 reeded edge half dollar AU 53, but there is already a fair amount of noticeable wear on the eagle's feathers and less wear on the obverse.  Note also the differences in the strength of the obverse and reverse rims.



Photos courtesy of Stacks Bowers Galleries.

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I have an explanation, but I can only speak for myself.

I have always been partial to large heavy coins with minimal numismatic value that I carry around as one would a good-luck charm.

When I went beyond my 3-piece suit/shirt/tie days, I carried it in my vest which resulted in negligible wear. In later years, I carried it my right trouser pocket with the reverse closest to my leg. The combination of heat, moisture and rubbing would result in the wear you've observed. [I switched from the left leg because my doctor told me the coin sandwiched between my wallet and left trouser leg was exacerbating the pain I experience[d] deep within my left thigh due to a 1984 hip fracture and two subsequent hip replacements.

My advice is allow the erosion to continue and perhaps you, or your heirs, can put it up for auction on, say, GC for... how does 37 thou sound?  🤣

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I think Sandon's explanation is most likely the right one. Makes sense.


To me, the wear looks about even EXCEPT for the rims.

Edited by MorganMan
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