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Classic US Gold Coins – The Newbie’s Lament: What Should I Collect?

By Doug Winter – ……

CoinWeek Content material Associate ……

For brand spanking new collectors of vintage United States gold cash, one of the crucial puzzling questions to ask is: What should I acquire? The answer, in fact, will depend on your price range, nevertheless it additionally is dependent upon which type of assortment you will construct: a set with a targeted beginning, center, and end, or a extra random strategy.

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To make this an inclusive article, I’m going to take a look at three worth ranges of coins (small, medium, and enormous, if you’ll) and how they apply to each approaches.

First, let’s shortly talk about worth ranges. To collect 19th- and early 20th-century US gold cash, you need to have enough funds to spend a minimal of $1,500 to $3,000 USD per purchase. This amount will enable a collector to buy a limited however fascinating vary of coins.

The second worth vary is $3,000 to $7,500. This is my “bread and butter” and a collector who’s snug may have an in depth selection of cash, together with some branch mint classics like the Charlotte and Dahlonega issues.

The last worth range is $10,000 and up. The air is a bit thinner here, however this range opens up an entire new horizon, including Proofs and early issues.

The second level to shortly talk about offers with “approaches” in the direction of amassing. In my experience, there are two distinct forms of collectors: those who assemble an outlined set (e.g., Charlotte half eagles) versus those who acquire cash with a less laser-focused strategy (e.g., half eagles with fewer than 100 recognized).

$1,500-$3,000 Range: Units and Random Accumulations

There are a number of fascinating sets which the collector with a smaller finances can try.

One potential set is Liberty Head quarter eagles from 1880 via 1894. These 15 issues have been made solely on the Philadelphia Mint. Many have low mintages, and two (the 1881 and the 1885) have business strike mintages of fewer than 1,000.

Regardless of the shortage of many of these issues, they’re reasonably priced. A date set might embody coins in the EF-AU range for the scarcer issues and Uncirculated (MS60 to MS63) for the more widespread dates. The 1881 and 1885 may require a stretch up to $4,000 or $5,000, but I’d strongly advocate that these two coins shouldn’t be skimped on as they are the linchpins of the set.

1855-O $1.00 PCGS EF45 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter Numismatics

1855-O $1.00 PCGS EF45 CAC. Pictures courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN)

Another completable set in the $1,500-$3,000 worth vary is New Orleans gold dollars. This consists of just six coins, and lots of may be situated in Uncirculated grades for beneath $2,000. The two keys to the set are the 1850-O and the 1855-O, and each may be present in very presentable grades for lower than $3,000.

The collector who takes a more random strategy to his purchases will find that the most important bang for the buck can be in Philadelphia and San Francisco gold dollars, scarce-ish AU55 to AU58 three dollar gold pieces, and collector grade Charlotte and Dahlonega half eagles.

Measurement matters in US gold coin amassing and a finances of $1,500 to $three,000 gained’t be overly efficient with massive coins akin to Liberty Head eagles and double eagles. But it’ll purchase some very fascinating gold dollars and quarter eagles. Areas which is perhaps checked out embrace San Francisco gold dollars in AU grades, pre-1879 San Francisco quarter eagles in decrease to center AU grades, and lots of Philadelphia three dollar gold pieces in EF-AU.

I talked about collector grade C+D Mint half eagles and it is still potential to purchase good VF widespread date half eagles from these two mints within the $1,750-2,250 range, and really presentable EF coins for $2,500-$3,000. Paradoxically, a nice EF45 Charlotte or Dahlonega half eagle is usually occasions more cosmetically appealing than a mediocre high quality AU50 to AU53.

One piece of advice I may give to both date collectors and “randomists” is purchase high quality over quantity. In case you are buying $1,500 cash as soon as a month, contemplate shopping for a $3,000 coin each two months. You’ll have fewer coins, however they will be nicer and extra fascinating.

$3,000-$7,500 Vary: Units and Random Accumulations

Stepping as much as the $3,000-$7,500 per coin vary will open up an entire new world of potential units. It can also enable the collector to buy larger measurement cash (tens and twenties) with much higher ease.

A completable set in this worth vary is the 16 half eagles made at the New Orleans Mint between 1840 and 1894. The bulk of this set (13 coins) is No Motto issues. While just one date—the 1844-O—is widespread, all may be bought in the EF40 to AU58 grade range and at the least 4 (the 1844-O, 1892-O, 1893-O, and 1894-O) could be bought in the decrease Uncirculated grades for lower than the top of this finances vary.

The two key issues in this set are the 1842-O and 1847-O, they usually would have to be in Extremely Effective, however each different No Motto coin (and this consists of some legitimately scarce points) could be purchased in at the least AU50 to AU53.

For an additional difficult twist, this set might be all PCGS/CAC.

1894-S $20.00 PCGS MS62. Images courtesy Doug Winter Numismatics

1894-S $20.00 PCGS MS62

One other fascinating challenge in the $3,000-$7,500 per coin range can be a yr set, 1877 by way of 1907, of Sort Three Liberty Head double eagles. This set would function principally Philadelphia and San Francisco issues in the MS61 to MS64 range, however may additionally embrace a small number of nice Carson Metropolis items (widespread dates such as the 1883-CC, 1884-CC, 1890-CC, or 1892-CC) to spice issues up. The only yr which could not be crammed is the 1886, for which the one problem is the very uncommon low mintage Philadelphia coin that may value about as a lot as the other 30 issues combined.

What I like about this set, which could possibly be assembled with 90% of the coins in Uncirculated grades for lower than $100,000, is the quantity of gold it allows the collector/investor to stockpile.

Random accumulators are going to seek out a tremendous array of fascinating cash in the $three,000-$7,500 range.

Gold dollars of specific interest and within monetary reach embrace all the Civil Conflict points and numerous the extra out there C+D issues in AU grades.

A $3,000 to $7,500 per coin finances goes an extended, great distance within the Liberty Head quarter eagle collection. Almost all pre-Civil Struggle Philadelphia points are within reach, as are various genuinely scarce San Francisco dates from the 1859-67 period.

Three dollar gold items in this worth range embrace almost all the branch mint points and lots of Philadelphia dates with mintages of two,500 business strikes or fewer.

Half eagles supply the collector with this price range quite a lot of really fascinating opportunities. Many good Charlotte and Dahlonega half eagles in AU grades value properly underneath $7,500 and this consists of some scarcer dates. Each pre-1862 Philadelphia half eagle may be bought in greater grades (AU by way of MS62) for lower than $7,500, and the same might be stated for the scarce but reasonably priced date run of San Francisco points from 1867 via 1877.

Some very scarce Liberty Head eagles can nonetheless be bought in EF and decrease AU grades for lower than $7,500 and this consists of most of the well-liked pre-Civil Struggle dates from Philadelphia and New Orleans. Each Carson Metropolis dates struck after 1879 may be purchased in AU to Mint State for round $5,000+, and there are a selection of extremely challenging San Francisco eagles that value less than $7,500 per coin.

Liberty Head double eagles are costly in lots of instances but in the Sort One collection I can think of at the very least two dozen dates that may be purchased—in EF or AU grades—for underneath $7,500; nicely underneath in lots of instances.

$7,500 and Up: Sets and Random Accumulations

At the huge boy degree of $7,500 and up, there’s virtually no limit as to the coolness issue of what may be purchased.

With a five-figure price range per coin, it is possible to work on an entire date set of Dahlonega half eagles in About Uncirculated and Uncirculated grades. This set consists of 26 totally different issues, and all however one (the 1842-D Giant Date) are attainable to obtain in Uncirculated; most for underneath $20,000.

Different sets on this worth vary which are challenging however completable embrace San Francisco quarter eagles (except the uncommon 1854-S), and No Motto half eagles from this mint (once more, with out the 1854-S), Civil Warfare gold from the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints with the potential inclusion of the 1861-dated southern issues, No Motto New Orleans eagles, Carson City eagles, and extra.

1807 BUST RIGHT $5.00 PCGS AU58 CAC. Images courtesy Doug Winter Numismatics


Once the five-figure threshold is crossed and the collector is snug swimming in the deep end of the pool then the challenging areas of early gold and Proof gold turn into prospects.

An excellent set for the early gold fanatic is the date run of Capped Bust Proper half eagles from 1798 via 1807 (I’m excluding the 1795 and 1797 points as a consequence of value). A pleasant, matched set of AU55 to MS62 pieces might be assembled at a mean value of round $12,500-$25,000 per coin, and it can be expanded to include vital naked-eye varieties.

Smaller denomination Proof gold is relatively reasonably priced so long as the main target is on PR63 and PR64 grades. I have helped collectors assemble in depth date runs in these two denominations and have found them challenging but not uncompletable.

A random collection of cash at this worth level may give attention to fascinating dates with fewer than 100 pieces recognized in borderline Condition Census grades. There are lots of Liberty Head quarter eagles and half eagles where a finances of $7,500-$10,000 per coin will allow the collector to accumulate some exceptional pieces. Stretching the price range up to $10,000-$15,000 per coin would add room to buy within the Liberty eagle aisle.

Some randomists make their buy based mostly on a coin’s visible appearance. How cool wouldn’t it be to see a set of 19th-century United States gold cash whose focus was strictly on pieces with selection, unique surfaces in quite a lot of worth points and collection?

My point is that US gold amassing doesn’t require deep, deep pockets to be an lively participant. But, if your pockets are deep, scads of very fascinating challenges await you… and I haven’t even begun to discuss the accumulating prospects of 20th-century collection such as the Indian Head half eagles and eagles or St. Gaudens double eagles.

It doesn’t matter what your price range, Douglas Winter Numismatics is the source for selection and rare United States gold coins. When you’d like to start a set of fascinating, significant gold cash, please contact Doug Winter by way of e-mail at [email protected]

Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins

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About Doug Winter

Doug_Winter2Doug has spent a lot of his life in the area of numismatics; starting amassing coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years previous, buying and selling cash at conventions in the New York Metropolis area.

In 1989, he based Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm focuses on shopping for and promoting selection and uncommon US Gold coins, particularly US gold coins and all branch mint materials.

Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic companies, Doug is an award-winning writer of over a dozen numismatic books and the acknowledged professional on US Gold. His information and an distinctive eye for properly graded and unique coins has made him one of the respected figures within the numismatic group and a sought after vendor by collectors and buyers on the lookout for professional personalised service, a choose stock of impeccable quality and truthful and trustworthy pricing. Doug can also be a serious buyer of all US cash and is all the time trying to buy collections each giant and small. He might be reached at (214) 675-9897.

Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also referred to as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Sample and Related Issues

In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold cash together with:
  • Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
  • Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
  • Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
  • The United States $3 Gold Items 1854-1889
  • Carson Metropolis Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Situation Census Replace
  • An Insider’s Information to Accumulating Sort One Double Eagles
  • The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
  • A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
  • The Acadiana Assortment of New Orleans Coinage
  • Sort Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic Historical past and Analysis
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Sort Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis

Finally, Doug is a member of nearly each main numismatic organization, professional commerce group and major coin affiliation in the US.