Sample Rare U.S. Coin Portfolio
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1843-O Small Date Quarter Eagle, NGC MS61 – Price Guide: $2,300-$2,500
Acquired for: $2,200
Of the two varieties of quarter eagles struck at the New Orleans mint in 1843, the Small Date is the most available. It is probably the most common quarter eagle produced at this mint and it is easy to locate in all circulated grades. It becomes scarce in the lower Uncirculated grades (MS60 to MS62), but it is very scarce in MS63 and rare, above this.
The present example has nice original green-gold color with soft, frosty luster on both sides. It is well impressed for the issue, with only a bit of weakness in the centers and sharp borders. There are no significant abrasions or detracting marks in the fields.
The current population for this variety is 50 in this grade, with 41 finer at NGC, while PCGS has graded 16 in this grade with 26 finer. The PCGS Price Guide is $2,300 while Coin World Trends is $1750 in MS60 and $3250 in MS62.
1843-O Large Date Quarter Eagle, NGC MS61 – Price Range: $12,500-$13,000
Acquired for: $8,775
Two varieties of quarter eagle were produced at the New Orleans mint in 1843: the Small Date (common) and the Large Date (scarce to rare). The 1843-O is actually among the scarcest quarter eagles produced at this mint and it is an extremely challenging issue to locate in Uncirculated with probably no more than ten to fifteen known. The finest is a single piece graded MS64 by NGC; at least two have been graded MS63 by this service as well.
The 1843-O Large Date has a very distinctive “look” and this coin shows it clearly. The luster is grainy in its texture while the color is a rich light green-gold which is unique to this issue. There are some raised patches of roughness on the portrait which are die rust and the mintmark is plainly double punched at its base.
This is an attractive coin for the grade with nice color and luster and clean surfaces. It has a very “fresh” appearance and is well detailed for the date and grade.
The last MS61 example of this date to sell at auction was a PCGS coin that brought $9,200 in October 2011. There is a record for a high quality MS61 for $17,940 back in a February 2008 auction.
NGC has graded nine examples of this date in MS61 with six finer, while PCGS shows five in MS61 and four better. These figures are inflated due to resubmissions. The PCGS Price Guide shows the value for the 1843-O Large Date quarter eagle in MS61 as $12,500.
1880 $2.50 PCGS MS63, CAC Approved – Price Range: $3,950-$4,200
Acquired for: $4,100
Coinage of quarter eagles was a low priority at the Philadelphia mint in 1880, and only 2,960 business strikes were made. Of the few hundred known, most are in the AU50 to MS60 grade range, and properly graded MS63 examples are quite scarce.
This frosty example is lightly marked with nice color and good luster. There are a few scattered marks seen on the surfaces and a small mint-made copper spot at the center of the obverse which serves as ready identification. For the date and grade, this is a nice coin with good eye appeal.
PCGS has a current population of eight in this grade with 12 finer. NGC has graded four in MS63 with none better. Both of these figures are inflated by resubmissions. Only two have been approved by CAC in this grade with two finer. The PCGS Price Guide suggests a retail value of $3,950 for the 1880 quarter eagle in MS63.
This is an undervalued coin which is far scarcer than many collectors realize. It is not readily available in grades higher than MS63.
1877 $20.00 NGC MS62, CAC Approved – Price Range: $4,500-$5,500
Acquired for: $4,950
The Type Three double eagle design was introduced in 1877 and it continued until the Liberty Head type was scrapped in 1907. The Type Three has the value spelled out as TWENTY DOLLARS on the reverse.
The mintage figure for 1877 Philadelphia double eagles is a reasonably low 397,650 and most were later melted. Today, this issue is seen most often in the AU55-MS61 range. Properly graded MS62’s are scarce, and this issue is very rare in MS63 and above.
This is a choice, original coin with nice rose and green-gold color. The luster is better than usual for the date and while there are enough marks seen to justify the grade, these abrasions are still fewer in number than what is typical for the issue.
The current populations for the 1877 double eagle are 133 in this grade with 16 finer at PCGS, and 141 with 16 finer at NGC. CAC has approved nine in MS62 with just one finer. The PCGS Price Guide suggests a retail value of $4,500 in this grade.
If you can find an 1877 $20.00 in MS63 with CAC approval (and there is currently just one approved), it would cost at least $15,000. This makes a nice MS62 a good relative value and the sort of coin that should be in demand among Liberty Head double eagle collectors.
1915 Indian Head $10.00 PCGS MS65, CAC Approved - $9,750-$12,000
Acquired for: $9,500
The Indian Head eagle was struck from 1907 through the abolishment of circulating gold coinage in this country in 1933. It features the design of Augustus St. Gaudens and while not as well-known as the double eagle from this period, many experts consider it to be the most beautiful American coin ever struck for circulation. Today, Indian Head eagles are popular with collectors and are sought-after by date collectors, type collectors and specialized collectors.
The 1915 is the final issue made at the Philadelphia mint in the 1910’s, and there were no more dates from this mint until 1926. A total of 351,075 were produced and survivors are common enough in lower grades but they become hard to find in MS64, and are very scarce in properly graded MS65. Above this, the 1915 eagle is almost never seen and the few MS66 and finer pieces that exist are extremely expensive.
This frosty Gem example displays attractive light green-gold color with some rose blending at the centers. The strike is sharp and the surfaces are extremely clean for the issue with just a few minor scuffs visible.
PCGS has currently graded 44 in MS65 with just seven finer; it is likely that these figures are inflated by resubmissions. CAC has approved 11 in this grade with seven finer. Again, it is likely that these figures are inflated.
If available in PCGS MS66 with CAC approval, it is likely that a nice 1915 eagle would sell for well over $20,000.
This is a great example of a coin which is well-loved for its striking beauty. We feel that Indian Head eagles are destined to become more popular with date collectors and high quality PCGS/CAC examples such as this 1915 are destined to be regarded as real trophies within this series.
1841 Large Cent PCGS PR64 Brown, CAC Approved – Price Range: $12,000-$12,500
Acquired for: $11,250
It is believed that as few as 25 Proof Large Cents were struck but given the number that have sold at auction over the years this figure seems low; the original mintage might be more in the range of 50-75 coins, with around half of these still known. The typical example grades in the PR63-64 range and is characterized by Brown or Red and Brown color.
This coin shows pleasing chocolate brown color on the obverse with some faint golden hues below; the reverse shows a decent amount of faded mint red. On the obverse there are one or two small spots and a nick located below star six and another below star eight; the reverse is reflective and choice and grades closer to PR65 on its own accord.
PCGS has graded seven 1841 Cents in PR64 Brown with three finer, while NGC shows a population of six in this grade with two better. CAC has approved three for the date/color with just one finer. The current PCGS Price Guide, for a non-CAC coin, is $12,500 in PR64 Brown.
Proof Large Cents have been popular with collectors since the Civil War, and the 1841 is desirable as one of the few early dates of this type (i.e., pre-1850) which can be obtained in comparatively high grades. This example is pleasing and attractive, and it is one of the finest currently available of this type.
1868 $1.00 PCGS MS67, CAC Approved – Price Range - $17,500-$18,000
Acquired for: $16,675
This is an example of a Type Three gold dollar, which was issued from 1856 through the end of this denomination in 1889. As with most of the issues from this era, the original mintage figure is low (just 10,500). A few “wonder coins” such as this exist for this date, and this is due to contemporary collectors and dealers putting a small number of pieces away at the time they were struck.
The 1868 gold dollar is not rare in the lower Uncirculated grades but it is elusive in Gem Uncirculated and very rare in Superb Gem Uncirculated. The two finest known grade MS68 at PCGS and there are a small group of perhaps three known that grade MS67. These are in demand both as type coins and amongst date collectors who specialize in Gold Dollars.
This piece is literally “as struck” with wonderful rich frosty luster and magnificent splashes of rose and orange-gold color. The surfaces are nearly perfect with just a few tiny ticks visible below magnification. It is amazing that a gold coin which is almost 150 years old has survived the ravages of time as this one has!
The pedigree of this coin is especially interesting. It was recently owned by well-known collector, Steve Duckor, who obtained it from the famous dealer David Akers. It was in the collection of Akers, widely regarded as the ultimate gold coin perfectionist, who obtained it from the Virgil Rand collection auction held in 1983. Brand, one of the all-time great collectors, bought in as early as 1890-1900. Thus, it has been owned by just three collectors in the last century!
PCGS has a population of four in this grade with two finer, while NGC has graded two in MS67 and one better. CAC has approved two in this grade and one better. PCGS Price Guide for the 1868 gold dollar in MS67 is $17,500.
1798 Small 8 $5.00, PCGS EF45 – Price Range: $13,000-$15,000
Acquired for: $12,900
A total of 24,867 half eagles are believed to have been struck in 1798. There were a total of three significant varieties: the Small 8, the Large 8 with 13 reverse stars, and the Large 8 with 14 reverse stars.
It is believed that a total of 2,250-3,250 examples of the 1798 Small 8 half eagle were produced. There are two varieties of which this coin, designated as BD-6, is regarded as having a surviving population of only 30-40 coins. This variety is very scarce in all grades and virtually impossible to find above AU50 to AU53.
This coin is from a late state of the dies with noticeable cracks on the obverse and reverse. There are some light adjustment marks at the central obverse and some typical weakness of strike in this area. The surfaces show nice orange-gold color which is deepest at the borders.
PCGS has graded three examples of this variety in this grade with seven finer. NGC has graded six in this grade with 61 finer; it is likely that these numbers are well inflated by resubmissions. The PCGS Price Guide is $13,000 but this is way too low based on auction prices realized. There have been auction sales as far back as June 2005 of close to $14,000 and there are a scant 4 APR’s for this issue in EF45 since the middle of 2005.
This is a great example of a much-undervalued early U.S. gold coin. As with all 18th century gold issues, it is held in very high regard. It is actually a rarer coin than the 1795 Small eagle but since it is not widely known it isn’t likely to ever be more highly valued than its earlier counterpart.
1892 $5.00, PCGS PR66 Deep Cameo
Acquired for: $77,650
Liberty Head Half Eagle, With Motto type (1866-1908)
The addition of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST created the new Liberty Head half eagle design type in 1866. This type was to continue until 1908 when it was replaced by the Indian Head design.
Proofs of this type, especially those dated prior to 1900, are very rare in Gem (PR65 and above) and are seen very infrequently in Superb Gem (PR66 and higher). This is especially so for coins with enough mint-made contrast to be designated as Deep Cameo or Ultra Cameo. In 1892 there were a total of 92 Proof half eagles struck for collectors. A number were melted due to the economic turbulence of the era, and it is believed that fewer than 30 are extent in all grades today. Most are seen in the PR63 to PR64 range, and there are probably not more than a small handful of Gems known today.
This is the single finest proof 1892 half eagle seen by PCGS as of the beginning of 2014. It is the only example graded PR66 Deep Cameo by this service; the next highest DCAM graded by PCGS is a single PR64. NGC has graded one or two PR67 Ultra Cameo, but these coins are not as choice as the current example. The last record of sale for an NGC PR67 Ultra Cameo was $63,250.
This is an exceptional coin with strong claims to finest known status. It is bright and reflective with beautiful contrast between the frosted devices and the fields. There are no mintmade defects on either side and just a few tiny lines in the left obverse field remove this coin from an even higher grade.
Many students of Proof gold coinage believe that the level of quality seen in the early 1890’s was the mint’s apex, and this specific coin is an excellent example of the coiner’s art.
1898 $20.00, PCGS PR64 Deep Cameo, CAC Approved
Acquired for: $78,200
Liberty Head Type Three (1877-1907)
The third type of Liberty Head double eagle was created in 1877 when the value was spelled out as TWENTY DOLLARS on the reverse. This design continued until the Liberty Head type was retired in 1907.
In proof gold, size matters – and everyone loves big coins like Liberty Head double eagles. Gems are very rare and very expensive, making nice PR64 coins extremely popular with collectors whose budget is not unlimited. Only 75 Proof 1898 double eagles were made, and of these around 30 or so are known.
There are a few “monster” gem coins in the PR66 to PR67 range and those have traded north of $250,000. Interestingly, no PR64 example of the 1898 has been sold since the Heritage 11/05 auction.
This coin has a lovely appearance and it appears to be fresh to the market. There is one tiny contact mark in the left obverse field, and if it were not for this, the coin would be valued in the $125,000-150,000 range. The naked eye “look” seems like a Gem as there are no hairlines or defects and the contrast between the devices and the fields is excellent, even for this date. PCGS has graded three examples in PR64DCAM with five finer; the best of these is a PR66.
This attractive coin will become a highlight of any set of Proof gold coinage, and it seems like really good value given that its eye appeal rivals that of far more expensive (and less rare) issues.
1894 $10.00, PCGS PR64 Deep Cameo, CAC Approved
Acquired for: $48,600
With Motto type (1866-1907)
As the second largest denomination of American gold coin, Proof Liberty Head eagles are in great demand with collectors and investors. The No Motto type, struck prior to 1867, is extremely rare as Proofs – which means that most collectors focus on the more obtainable With Motto type.
Only 43 Proof eagles were struck in 1894, and this is the smallest mintage figure for Proofs of this denomination after 1889. It has been stated that as many as “25-30” exist but this figure is likely way too high, given the fact that just three Proof 1894 eagles have been sold at auction since 1999.
This date is not often seen well-made, and examples with Deep Cameo contrast are extremely rare. In fact, this is the single Proof of this date/denomination to have been so designated by PCGS as of the beginning of 2014. NGC hasn’t graded a single example finer than this with Deep Cameo contrast and this is, of course, the only example approved by CAC. The only finer Proof 1894 eagle we are aware of is a PCGS PR66CAM which sold for $80,500 back at the beginning of 2005, and which is probably worth more today.
The coin itself is very choice for the grade with deep mirror fields contrasted by the frosted devices. Both sides show rich natural orange-gold color and the fields are very choice with no lintmarks or hairlines. A few light old lines on the neck of Liberty keep this coin from an otherwise possible PR65DCAM grade.
While most likely to be appreciated as a choice type coin, this is a very rare and much underrated date that should sell for a larger premium over a “common” Proof Liberty Head eagle.
1807 $5.00, NGC MS63, CAC Approved
Acquired for: $35,800
Draped Bust Right type (1795-1807)
The 1807 is a transitional year for half eagles as both the old Draped Bust and the new Capped Bust types were made during this year. The former had a mintage of 32,488 versus 51,605 for the latter.
The 1807 Bust Right half eagle is usually seen in circulated grades and lower quality uncirculated examples are harder and harder to find. In properly graded MS63, it is a rare coin and it is nearly impossible to find choicer than this.
This is one of the most original examples of this type that I have seen. It shows deep orange-gold and green colors on the obverse and reverse with no signs of having been lightened or “improved” at any time during its history. This coin shows a very later reverse die state with three distinctive “cuds” from 7:00 to 10:00; this suggests that it is one of the last coins to be struck from this die pair before the reverse totally cracked and had to be discarded.
The current PCGS population for this date in MS66 is 33 coins with only seven higher; many of the MS63 listings are either resubmissions or are overgraded. CAC has approved just four in MS63 with two finer. The PCGS Price Guide suggests a value of $39,500 in this grade.
Early gold in high quality remains in strong demand but there is a limited supply. This type is almost never seen above MS63 to MS64, and the current 1807 half eagle would make a great example for a world-class type set.
1867 $2.50, PCGS PR67 Deep Cameo, CAC Approved (Finest Known in this date, highest grade by 16 years)
Acquired for: $139,750
Liberty Head type (1840-1907)
In numismatics, there are pieces which are referred to as “wonder coins.” This expression has two meanings: coins that you wonder “how can this piece actually exist? ”and coins that give you a sense of “wonder” due to their awesome appearance and/or rarity. This Proof 1867 quarter eagle is a true Wonder Coin in every sense of the expression.
To put this coin in context, it is the earliest dated Proof-67 DCAM quarter eagle by a full 16 years; the next issue graded this high by PCGS is a single 1883. How did this coin survive nearly 150 years with its surfaces so pristine and its originality so intact? We may never know but we can be happy that it did. Of the 50 proofs struck this year, fewer than 20 Proof 1867 quarter eagles exist and this piece is, obviously, the finest. It has a PCGS population of just one and it is safe to say it will never be equaled.
Two things stand out about this coin. The first is the virtual perfection of its deep mirror fields; there is not a hairline or mark to be seen even under magnification. The second is its color which is a blend of deep natural sunflower-gold and orange hues which are really breathtaking to behold.
Coins of this sort are almost never offered for sale except in big auctions, and when they do get offered, the demand they create is typically is palpable. The new owner of this coin will have a true treasure that can never be duplicated, and this is one of the truly great Proof Liberty Head quarter eagles in existence.