This collection had its beginnings in 1988 when I began to lose interest in the United States coin series of the Twentieth Century. By that time, I had completed virtually all of the copper and silver series from the late 1800s onward, with the exception of a few key dates. The coins of this era are fascinating coins is high grade, but downright pedestrian in circulated grades. Rather than pursue an expensive course of upgrade for these collections, I determined to find a more interesting series to collect that would fit my budget which, at the time, was very very small.
Unwilling to pursue the challenge or expense of early US copper or bust half dollars, I decided upon capped bust dimes. The series' advantages are that there are few people pursuing them, there are only twenty dates, and many neat Redbook varieties were obtainable for little premium.
I started to accumulate my dimes within several guidelines. Living in Boulder, Colorado and attending school limited my purchases to about $25 to $30 a month. Luckily, there was only about one show a month in the Denver area and I was able to feel like I was really working on my set, even if I only added one coin a month.
After a year the set consisted of about 15 coins, but I was having trouble with two 'affordable' dates - the 1824/2 and either of the 1828s - that I really wanted to fill. At one of the large semi-annual coin shows I noticed a man named Bob Spangler selling a few early US coins and a bunch of sports cards. I asked him specifically for an 1824. He said that he had none, but asked why I wanted that date. My reply was that the 1824 was the cheapest of the dates I needed and therefore the first to be filled. He laughed and told me that he had been involved with the discovery of a rare variety of 1824 dime a few years before. As he was telling me about this special coin he asked, "Well, you have a copy of the DIME BOOK, don't you?"
"Uh, no. What dime book?" I replied.
He answered by pulling out a well-rifled copy of Early United States Dimes that had been published in 1984. I had never even heard of the book. He said that if I had any interest in early dimes I must have the book because many of the rare varieties could still be cherry picked at common prices because nobody else knew about the book either.
I quickly borrowed a copy from the ANA Library in Colorado Springs and set to reading. The book was very impressive and I decided to direct my next $50 into a copy of my own and another $10 into a membership into the John Reich Collectors Society.
My collection tactics changed dramatically after that. Instead of being patient, I wanted to find as many of the 122 die marriages of Capped Bust Dimes as quickly as possible with little regard to condition. I filled many spots with $10 examples. I did place special emphasis on cherry picking, though. If I needed cash for a nice example of a tough marriage, part of my prior modern collection could certainly be bargained away.
A number of coins were accumulated in a short time - maybe forty coins within a year - including some R5s. A number of these came from Brian Greer. A few more came from Larry Briggs. My rate of accumulation dropped as I gradually saw every available bust dime in Colorado and Wyoming. With persistent searching and some mail ordering I managed to have about 70 varieties by the time I returned to South Dakota in 1995. South Dakota had very few dimes, but it also had nobody who wanted them. I managed to get up maybe another 10 in the next three years.
The bust dime drought ended when I started using the eBay.com online auction. I found a number of tough coins before anyone else even started looking there. Eventually I became acquainted with Bill Hancock, a fellow bust dime addict, through eBay and we helped each other quite a bit. I also got to know a few of the guys who wrote the book that had given me such enjoyment, most notably the late Russ Logan, through my one-time online sites the Bust Coin Trading Circle and The Bust Coin Trading Circle Forum.
The date pages on this site will display an album-like view of each variety in my set. Click on any coin to see a larger image. The majority of these image were done with a flat bed scanner.