The Surprising Survival of Pre-Civil War Gold Coins
by Brian Zweig
The $10 Eagle was both one of the first and last U.S. gold coins to be struck.
By the late 19th century, American $10 Eagles were accepted and welcomed throughout the world. The coin saw limited production initially, but it would eventually become a mainstay of global commerce. When Franklin Roosevelt banned private gold ownership in 1933, $10 Eagle coins were being struck and exported in vast quantities.
In 1855, however, it was a different situation. The United States was not yet the economic powerhouse that it is today – or was by the end of the 19th century. While the U.S. Dollar was becoming a more widely-known currency, it was still playing catch-up to the British Pound and the French Franc. If you were a merchant or trader in 1855, you were more likely to use European currencies instead of U.S. Dollars.
Accordingly, the U.S. Mint struck relatively few $10 Eagles in 1855. In fact, the Philadelphia Mint would have issued even fewer $10 coins, if not for an enormous amount of bullion flowing in from the California Gold Rush.
The low mintage figure of the 1855 $10 Eagle is surprisingly not the main reason why it’s so scarce. An enormous quantity of gold coins were melted during the Civil War, as bullion prices skyrocketed during this conflict. Like most coins of the Gold Rush era, survival rates are minuscule. $10 Eagles had a higher bullion value than their face value; as such, countless pieces were destroyed for their gold content.
Of the few specimens that escaped the Civil War, most would then be melted in the 1930's and 1940's. Franklin Roosevelt’s private gold ownership ban led to the destruction of even more U.S. gold coins. Ordinary citizens were ordered to turn in their gold and, sadly, many numismatic treasures would hit the melting pot.
Numismatists estimate that fewer than 400 pieces exist in all grades out of an original mintage of 121,701. This rarity estimate is confirmed by a review of recent auction results. As a pre-Civil War issue, 1855 $10 Eagles appear very infrequently on the market; just a dozen pieces publicly traded hands in 2018.
A Rare, But Affordable Find
In recent months, we’ve had the privilege of offering several unique hoards and freshly uncovered groups of coins. These caches have been new to the market and, understandably, met with great enthusiasm from our clients.
Our January offering is no exception. An original group of lovely 1855 $10 Eagles has surfaced and we’re excited to make them available to you. Each coin is certified by PCGS and exhibits a rich, beautiful patina. The coins have a “skin” that can only develop from decades of storage. The natural toning is both highly attractive and a testament to their originality. This is exactly how coins look when they’ve been plucked from circulation without any treatment or modification.
Despite their scarcity and fascinating connection to the California Gold Rush, these 1855 $10 Eagles remain surprisingly affordable. These relics from the Gold Rush era are truly undervalued; we can think of dozens of coins with similar rarity levels that trade for $5,000+. In many respects, the 1855 $10 is a true “sleeper” date in the Liberty Eagle series. When more collectors realize how scarce they truly are, we wouldn’t be surprised if they appreciate significantly in value.
We strongly urge you to take advantage of this special offering now. The 1855 $10 Eagle rarely appears on the market; perhaps a dozen or so are made available each year.
Finding 36 pieces in one place at one time is virtually unprecedented. That’s what makes today’s Spotlight offering so exceptional. Intact original groups like this are every numismatist’s dream and rarely surface in the marketplace.
1855 $10 Gold Eagle
We have a total of 36 pieces in problem-free Extremely Fine (XF) and About Uncirculated (AU) condition.
- PCGS XF45: 19 coins available at $1029 each with free shipping.*
- PCGS AU50: 17 coins available at $1199 each with free shipping.*
Be sure to pounce on today’s opportunity. Not only is it one of the most unique groups we’ve showcased, but it’s also one of the most affordable too. For less than double their melt value, you can own a true numismatic rarity.
To secure these remarkable coins today, please call us at 800-831-0007 or email us.
*Prices subject to change based on market fluctuation and product availability. Prices reflected are for cash, check, or bank wire. Free shipping, handling, and insurance are available for all quantities ordered. Offer expires Friday, January 11, 2019, or while supplies last.