SHATTERED! A Look At Some Reeded Edge Half Dollars

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Tom B, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Tom B

    Tom B TomB Everywhere Else

    By now many folks on the boards are aware that I simply adore the RE half dollar series, but not all realize that I was a teenager in 1978 when the Rolling Stones released “Some Girls”. On that album was a track that many consider the Stone’s interpretation of the early punk scene and it was titled “Shattered”. Truly, I know of no one who would consider this song to be either lyrically or musically deep, but I have historically found the beat to be infectious (or, to some, no doubt relentless) and every time I look at RE half dollars with cracked dies the song pops into my head. Perhaps this is my 1970s numismatic curse, but I will happily pass it along to you if you would like to see and hear a 1978 live performance in Texas of the song in a safe-for-work link-


    If you prefer a YouTube video then the following is the same song, but it appears to have a commercial embedded into the first few seconds of the video prior to the song’s beginning-

    Shattered on YouTube

    Recently, Realone shared with us a few images of a wonderful half-dime and dime that had cracked or shattered obverse dies. Here are a few images of RE half dollars with similar features that may be interesting to people on the boards. I have also added some information as to the extent of the crack and die marriage. Please enjoy responsibly.

    1837 JR-8
    This might be thought of as a lightning bolt going through Ms. Liberty on the obverse with a crack starting at about 1:00 o’clock on the obverse rim and traveling through the cap, the L of LIBERTY in the headband and into the forehead with another crack close by starting near the back end of the eye and going downward through the face and lips to exit through the bottom of the chin and into the field above the bust. Other cracks are around the date and bottom portion of the bust. The reverse has a dramatic, sweeping crack from the N in CENTS through the olive branch, the adjacent wingtip and into UNITED. There is also one heck of a die chip in the reverse shield.


    Larger obverse and reverse images-


    1838 JR-1
    This coin has cracks that are cool as all get-out. The obverse has a crack that starts between stars 5 and six, but nearer star 6, that swoops down into the forehead of Ms. Liberty just above her eye, travels through the T of LIBERTY in the headband and exits through the left portions of star 7 out through the rim. It is paired with a reverse die that has a massive set of cracks that intersect within the eagle near the junction of the body, wing and leg. One crack starts from the rim, goes through the T in UNITED, travels toward and into the wing before turning dramatically downward to exit through the arrow feathers, tip of the claw and between OL in DOL to the rim. The other major crack enters the other side of the reverse between the RI in AMERICA, goes through the near wing, bisects the shield and then meets up with the previous crack to split the reverse into three distinct segments.


    Larger obverse and reverse images-


    1838 JR-16
    Here is a new addition to my little hoard of RE half dollars that was happily picked up off the BST in a smooth, problem-free and completely accurately described transaction from dizzyfoxx. Some might think this coin shares the same reverse die as the JR-1 shown earlier, but indeed, they are different. The obverse crack is minor on this coin and won’t be discussed, but the reverse has a very thick, cool, lumpy crack coming from the rim through the D in UNITED and diagonally through the upper portion of the wing into the center of the shield before turning downward slightly to arc through the arrows, a claw and through or between OL in DOL before exiting the rim. This particular coin also exhibits very strong roller marks around 7:00 o’clock on the reverse that extend toward the center of the reverse and result in less detail as-struck in this portion of the design. I think they are a cool artifact of the US Mint and its early struggles with the then new steam press while others may find the roller marks distracting. Some die marriages are more commonly found with these planchet roller streaking marks while others are generally not known with this feature.


    Larger reverse image-


    1839-O JR-1
    Truly, this coin is the crown jewel of my little accumulation of this quirky series and those who are willing to enter this niche will find out very quickly how difficult a coin this can be when certain standards are in place. There are myriad die cracks on this coin that are most easily seen on the obverse if one looks at the lower portion of the numbers in the date. This crack enters the lower portion of the bust, exits to join up with star 1 and then dances lightly around the obverse to join the remaining stars. The reverse cracks are easier to visualize and might start as a break in from the rim at 7:00 o’clock between a pair of olive leaves. The crack then splits with one avenue going up through the leaves, the wingtip, under UNI of UNITED before entering the adjacent letter T and traversing the remainder of the legend before exiting the rim at the C of AMERICA. The other avenue of the crack mentioned previously goes through HALF DOL and into the arrow tips.


    Larger obverse and reverse images-

  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. jhinton

    jhinton Well-Known Member

    On the 1838 JR-16, How can you tell the difference between roller marks and adjustment marks? Do RE Halfs have adjustment marks?

    Your description of the die cracks truly makes it hard not pick one up. I enjoyed the write up!
  4. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot there is no spoon

    Great post and superb coins -- that JR-8 is stunning. Thanks for sharing, Tom.
  5. lkeigwin

    lkeigwin Well-Known Member

    Adjustments for excess weight were still done as late as 1839 (possibly the last year, though they were most common prior to '22) but the easiest way to distinguish them from roller marks is by the parallel lines.

    Adjustment marks are rarely parallel, while roller marks almost always are.

    The Mint was apparently having trouble with the reducing rollers in '38-'39. Here is another reeded edge half with obvious signs of roller marks (reverse side at 12 o'clock).

    Great report, Tom! Nice to see you here once in a while.

  6. jhinton

    jhinton Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Lance!
  7. kookoox10

    kookoox10 ANA #3168546

    Here are older images of the 1837 with the same diagnostics of the JR-8 you have. I actually copied and pasted this from the new acquisitions thread from last year. I have a newer camera now, I should re-image this along with others. Beautiful examples Tom.
  8. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    Great read! Thanks Tom!
  9. Tom B

    Tom B TomB Everywhere Else

    Thank you all for the kind words. Lance has given a very nice writeup on roller marks and his 1839 shows them quite well near the top of the reverse. Obviously, not all RE half dollars have either wildly cracked dies or roller marks and here is a wonderful piece that is largely pristine.

    1838 JR-3


    Larger obverse and reverse-

Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page