There are many ways to start collecting Bust coinage for a new collector. In my opinion, one of the most rewarding ways to collect coins is by completing a type set. Applying the concept to Bust coinage is very easy.
For most collectors a Bust type set contains only eight coins. The set comprises of one Bust half dime, two Bust dimes, two Bust quarters, one Bust half, and two Reeded edge halves. However, even though the number of coins required for the set is small, the challenge is great if you want to find coins that are original, problem free and with great eye appeal and color.
Bust Half Dimes 1829-1837
Bust half dimes are relatively common as type, but are actually very difficult to find with nice eye appeal in XF-AU grades. As with almost all Bust coinage, expect to pay a substantial premium if you want to purchase a colorfully toned Bust half dime. I would advise a collector to buy a nice AU-55 to AU58 example. All dates except 1836 and 1837 are common.
Bust Dimes – 1809-1837
Bust dimes are comprised of two types – the large dentils from 1809-1828 and the small dentils from 1828-1837. The Large dentils variety is significantly harder to find than the relatively common small dentils variety. I would recommend dates of 1821 Large date, and 1827 as they somewhat easier to find. For the collector on a budget, I would recommend a VF-30 to VF-35 example. Even in VF grades, it will be hard to find a nice, problem free coin. For more advanced collectors, I would recommend coin in AU-53 to AU-58.
Small size Bust dimes are easier to find then their large diameter counterparts. I would recommend dates of 1830 -1835. A budget collector would find that an ideal grade would be XF-40-45. An advanced collector would want an AU55 to AU-58.
Bust Quarters 1815-1838
Bust Quarters are the most challenging and expensive denomination to find in a Bust type set. Large diameter quarters, minted from 1815 to 1828 are much, much tougher than the small diameter quarters. A budget collector should focus on a coin graded Fine – VF. You have to be very patient, as finding one with original skin and eye appeal will take a long time and will be pricey. An advanced collector should target a grade of VF-30 to XF-45. My favorite date for a type coin is the 1825/4/2 because of the triple over-date. 1818 quarters are also popular because of the double 18's.
Small size Bust quarters are more common than their large size counterparts, but are still challenging. It is easy to find a decent VF graded coin, but it gets tough when you target the XF- AU grades. I would recommend that you be patient and be ready to pay up and buy the right coin when the opportunity presents itself.
Bust Half Dollars 1808-1836
Bust Half dollars are the most collected area of Bust coinage and are widely popular. Even though they are plentiful on the bourse floor, finding a nice, mid-grade type coin is surprisingly difficult. I would recommend a Bust half dated in the 1820's as it is an unmodified design before the obverse design changes in the 1830's. I would advise collectors on a budget to search for a XF- to low AU coin that is problem free with original surfaces. I would advise advanced collectors to target a colorful AU-58, as they are very pretty and highly desired.
Reeded Edge Half Dollars 1836-1839
Reeded Edge half dollars are also very popular, though not as popular as their earlier cousins. I consider RE halves to be broken up into two sub-types, based on the reverse lettering. From 1836-1837 the denomination on the reverse reads “50 CENTS”, and from 1838-1839 it reads “HALF DOL.”
Most collectors will want a nice mid-grade XF40 to AU-50 for each subtype. An advanced collector will want a AU-58 for each subtype.
Completing a Bust type set is very rewarding, and is within almost every collectors budget. Just be patient, and most of all have fun! You will be hooked on Bust coins in no time!