Bust half dollars with lettered edges have undeniable charm, much like the copper coinage of early America. They were struck with screw presses, and each working die was prepared individually, the date, stars and lettering being punched in by hand. These elements resulted in a myriad of varieties. They’ve also enabled specialists to pinpoint just which die struck any given coin. And this marvelous diversity is the yeast that keeps interest rising in these coins. The term “Bust halves” actually applies to both Capped Bust half dollars and the Draped Bust coins that preceded them. Draped Bust halves, in turn, come in two types: one with a small eagle on the reverse, the other with a larger, heraldic eagle. For a short time at the end of the Capped Bust coinage in the late 1830s, half dollars of that design were made with reeded edges, after the introduction of steam power at the U.S. Mint made that technology possible. The Bust halves most collectors view with the warmest affection, though, are the Capped Bust/lettered edge pieces issued by the Mint from 1807 to 1836. These are the real heart of this fondly remembered era in U.S. silver coinage.
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