Linda F. writes: I recently saw a capped bust half date 1824, graded by ANACS and listed as O-103 or Overton 103. What exactly does this mean?
In the early history of United States coinage, the making of dies was an imperfect art. Coins in a specific year were minted by more than one die; this is still true today. Back then, dies might show highly discernable differences such as doubling, die cracks, variations of date position (dates were stuck into the dies by hand) and other identifiable characteristics.
Many collectors of early coins such as Bust half dollars enjoy determining which die combination minted their coins. Bust half dollar die varieties were organized into a catalog, in 1967, by Al. C. Overton called: Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836.
Overton numbers are used to identify the dies that minted a specific coin. In this case the coin is an 1824 Obverse 10-variety 3.-Die crack from edge to curls between date and star 13. Full sharp double profile from forehead to chest.