In 1967, thirty-eight years after M.L. Beistle issued his Registry of Half Dollar Die Varieties, Al Overton published the first edition of his work on lettered edge bust half-dollars. Now in its 5th edition, thanks to the efforts of Overton’s son-in-law, Donald Parsley, Overton’s tome remains the standard reference work for collectors of this popular series. Comments and reviews of Overton’s effort were immediate and generally favorable. Deciphering Beistle’s arcane attribution scheme had always been a problem. Overton’s methods promised a quicker and more certain path to identifying working dies that produced half-dollars between 1794 and 1836. Criticism, such as it was, centered on Overton’s listing of die states and striking aberrations, including edge lettering differences, with only minor, uninteresting differences.
The most detailed and informative review of Overton’s 1967 1st edition must be that of Dr. Charles E. Weber (1922-2002), ANA LM 285. Dr. Weber was a professor of Germanic Languages who taught at the University of Missouri, Louisiana State University and the University of Tulsa before retiring in 1982. When Dr. Weber was 17 Sol Kaplan introduced him to numismatics. Dr. Weber became a keen student and collector of American, foreign and ancient coins. His scholarly writings earned him ANA Heath Literary Awards in 1963, 1965, 1971 and 1979. In 1967 Dr. Weber’s collection included 140 capped bust half-dollars. He shelled out $12.50, the cost of Overton’s new book, and set to work. After thoroughly acquainting himself with Overton’s effort he submitted an 8-page review to Coin World. In its December 13, 1967 edition Coin World published excerpts from the review. Dr. Weber thoughtfully sent a carbon copy (on pink tissue paper) of his typewritten review to Al Overton. That copy is offered here. It is a fascinating document, chock-full of facts and insights that put the history of die variety collecting in perspective. I was especially pleased to see Dr. Weber’s “thank you” to Overton for abandoning Beistle’s mysterious reference to “akcidefect” lines and marks in favor of the now accepted term, “clash marks.” Unless Coin World retained Dr. Weber’s original review or another copy is found in Dr. Weber’s estate this document is probably unique.
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Sheridan Downey, Numismatist 4400 Keller Ave.,
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