The economic forecasts for the year 2024 show a decline in inflationary tensions and a rise in volatility of precious metals. The coin market in 2024 may be filled with a lot of moving parts. Price pressure will be put on coins with key dates by collectors who are completing their date sets. The ultra-rare coins will be in demand if gold prices are temporarily softer, but the attention will be focused on the rarest and oldest gold coins. Harry W. Bass, Jr. sold four Heritage Auctions of his collection. Core Collection has established a solid base of collectors and an asset class for gold coins from the early period, totaling approximately $83.7 Million. Coins must be graded on a scale of 1 to 70 by CAC Grading or the Numismatic Guaranty Company.
1. Early $5 Gold Half Eagle Pieces in Uncirculated and Mint Condition
The $10 gold eagle was issued from 1795-1804, and featured a Capped Bust Portrait of Miss Liberty. The half eagle ($5 gold piece) was issued almost every year from 1795, but the quarter eagle ($2.50 gold piece) appeared somewhat sporadically – and not at all from 1809 through 1820. Both coins underwent a series design changes. From the original Capped Bust, facing right, to a new Capped Bust, facing left, and then to the Capped Head, before finally settling on the so-called Classic Head.
Coins with the Capped Bust Portrait facing the right half-eagle were produced from 1795-1807; some coins have a small Eagle on the reverse. Some people buy a single piece, but then decide to collect the entire set of 1795-1807 coins. Many people are discouraged from collecting the complete set because early quarter eagles or eagles can be expensive.
Prices for the early, lightly circulated half eagles start at approximately $15,000. There is an unquenchable demand for the 1798 small eagle half eagle. PCGS lists this coin’s AU-55 value at $1.5million.
All grades of the 1795 half-eagle are in high demand.
2. Type II and III Liberty Head double Eagles graded mint state 60 through 63
The Saint-Gaudens double eagle ($20 gold piece) is a superstar of U.S. gold coinage and is hailed as America’s most beautiful coin. Earlier coins are not as glitzy but they’re often more rare and sometimes priced close to the melt value of the gold they contain.
In 1849, the California Gold Rush led to the creation of the double eagle or $20 gold coin. Congress authorized two new gold coins—this nearly one-ounce heavyweight and the tiny gold dollar—to help soak up the excess gold supply. Although the basic design remained the same throughout its run, collectors can distinguish three distinct types. In 1866, the original version was replaced by Type II when the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was added on the reverse. Type III appeared in 1877 after the statement of value changed from TWENTY D. (shorthand) to TWENTY DOLLARS.
Michael R. Fuljenz is the author of several award-winning books about this subject. He reports that Type II or III Saints in mint conditions are much rarer. In Europe, original bags of Saints uncirculated exist in a greater number than mint state Liberties.
A common date Type III Liberty Head Double Eagle contains 0.9675 ounces of gold, and retails at $2,100 for MS-60, $2,150 for MS-61, $2,200 for MS-62, and $2300 in MS63. Type II is rarer, and thus more expensive. It can also carry small premiums above the melt value. Rarer dates are more expensive. A 1889-S Liberty Head Double Eagle graded MS63 is worth around $3,900.
3. Scarce-Date Silver Dollars
The Morgan silver dollars reign as kings of the hill because they are large, bulky coins with high precious metal content, they’re old and many are extremely well preserved since millions never left bank and government vaults.
Certain common-date Morgan dollars – the 1880-S and 1881-S, for example – exist in large quantities. Instead, you should focus on coins with a smaller mintage, despite their less-spectacular condition. They needn’t be rare – only scarce.
Both the 1886 S Morgan dollar and the 1928 Peace Dollar are good examples. Both coins are available in MS-63 at a cost of about $1,000. These coins have seen consistent demand, yet they’re difficult to promote by mass marketers. The coins are therefore less volatile.
4. Mercury Dimes from 1940s Graded Mint State 67 with Full bands
Collectors have observed that Winged Liberty (or “Mercury”) dimes have weakness, as a rule, in portions of the fasces on the reverse. This device – a symbol of authority in Roman times – consists of a bundle of rods bound around an ax, and by rights, there should be a separation in the bands that bind the bundle. Only the sharpest specimens possess this separation, so “full-band” Mercury dimes are scarce and worth a premium.
You can assemble partial sets using coins priced at $200 each. If you select coins in the $200 range that are original, beautiful and have colorful toning, you may be able to resell at auction with a significant profit.
5. The 1909-S Lincoln cent is graded as Extremely Fine (or Better).
Focus on the very first Lincoln cents tends to be on those bearing the letters “VDB,” the coin designer’s initials for Victor David Brenner. The letters are located at the bottom of the reverse side as an artistic sign. Brenner’s three initials seemed to jump right off the coin prompting public protest and leading to their removal.
San Francisco Mint only produced 484,000 Lincoln Cents before the initials removed. The 1909 S VDB cent was the lowest mintage coin of the entire Lincoln series. The West Coast Mint went on to produce 1,825,000 cents without the designer’s initials in 1909. Expect to pay around $200 for a 1909-S Cent graded Extremely fine 45 and more for one in Mint State-63. This is a rare issue from a popular series.
6. Franklin Half Dollars Graded Mint States-66 or Above
The Franklin half dollar was discontinued by Congress in the aftermath of the assassination. Production of this coin began in 1948. This was a premature death as regular-issue U.S. coins generally can’t be replaced until they have been minted for at least 25 years.
Franklin half dollars are not particularly rare. The Philadelphia halves, which were issued in 1953 and 1956, had a mintage of about three million. Franklin halves, however, are difficult to find.
Even in mint condition, many of these coins lack subtle details. Few, for instance, have full lines on the bell. Franklin half dollars can be found in Mint State-63 or lower grades. Higher grades command substantial premiums. Based on their scarcity, they’re well worth it. Prices can reach thousands of dollars, depending on which coins you are looking at. You can find some great examples for just a few hundred bucks each.
7. Isabella Quarter Graded Mint State-65
The Columbian Exposition on the shore of Lake Michigan ended up costing some $30 million – more than $1 for each of the 28 million visitors it attracted. To help defray these costs, the managers of the fair requested – and received – congressional authorization for special U.S. coins to sell as souvenirs to raise funds.
Congress first authorized the half dollar to bear the image of Columbus. Some 2.5 million examples of this “Columbian half dollar” were minted in 1892 and again in 1893. These coins are commonplace today. A few months later, Congress authorized a 25-cent piece bearing the image of Spain’s Queen Isabella – who, with her husband Ferdinand, financed Columbus’ expeditions.
Just 40,000 examples of this “Isabella quarter” were minted, and more than 25,000 later were melted. Today, it is a scarce and coveted coin – and an example graded MS-65 will cost about $1,500, down from $4,000 some years back.
8. The gold piece is either round or octagonal.
The massive Panama Canal was completed in 1914 after the American builders overcame formidable medical and engineering obstacles.
The “Pan-Pac” coins included a silver half dollar, a gold dollar, a quarter eagle (or $2.50 gold piece) and two $50 gold pieces – the first U.S. coins ever issued in that denomination. The $50 coins had the same design. They both featured the Greek goddess Minerva, her symbol of the owl and the Greek goddess Minerva, on their obverse. However, one coin was round and the other octagonal.
After unsold items were melted down, there were 483 rounds and 685 octagonal shapes. These coins are expensive, but they’re among the few vintage U.S. commemorative coins that have values that have withstood the test of time. An MS-63 with a flashy design can be purchased for around $85,000.
9. 1793 Wreath cents, lightly circulated and better
The first U.S. Cents from 1793 are some of the most fascinating. The Mint launched production by issuing a coin that came to be known as the “Chain cent.” The obverse bears a right-facing Liberty and the reverse shows the words ONE CENT within a chain of interlocking links. From the beginning, the coin was met with hostility. People interpreted the chain as a sign of slavery. A new design with a Liberty portrait and wreath on the reverse was introduced to replace the old one. The Wreath Cent was also gone before the year ended, replaced with a Liberty Cap.
The Wreath Cent is a rare and valuable coin with a rich history. The Mint only produced about 63,000 Wreath Cents. A lightly circulated 1793 Vine and Bars 1793 Wreathcent (AU-55) is valued at $50,000. The value of this coin has decreased over the past several years.
10. Gobrecht Dollar
After the Mint completed production of silver dollars dated 1803 in early 1804, it suspended dollar coin production for 30 years. Researchers now believe that rare silver dollars dating 1804 were struck in 1834 as gifts to Asian monarchs by the State Department.
Soon after the diplomatic event that led to these backdated silver dollars of 1804 the Mint began working on a new silver dollar, with a bold and striking design. Christian Gobrecht – a talented medalist and engraver who joined the Mint in 1835 – was assigned the job of creating this coin. Gobrecht received designs from two talented artists: Thomas Sully, Titian Peale. He was instructed to use these as the basis for coinage dies. The Gobrecht dollar is the stunningly beautiful coin created as a result. A 1836 Original Proof 64 example could be worth around $80,000.
11. 1937-D Three Leg Buffalo Nickel, All Grades
This mint-error coin was created because a Mint employee failed to properly clean up an accident.
Two dies stamp a planchet or coin blank simultaneously, one on each side. The machinery can jam and fail to feed the planchet in position. The dies will then hit each other, causing damage to each. These damaged dies are said to have “clash marks,” and standard procedure calls for stopping the press and removing them from service. In 1937, the Denver Mint worker decided to use a shortcut. He used an emery-stick and ground off the clash markings on a Buffalo Nickel die. He may not have noticed it at first, but this removed not only the unwanted marks but also much of the foreleg of the bison on the die for the coin’s reverse. A coin in EF-45 is worth about $1,000.
12. Seated Liberty Dollars graded AU-50-AU-55
Robert Maskell Patterson was appointed Mint director by the United States government in 1835. He wanted to bring American coin designs up to par with European ones. Christian Gobrecht created a new silver-dollar under his supervision. The first coin was struck in 1836. It served as a prototype for the Seated Liberty Coinage.
High-grade circulated examples – certified as, say, About Uncirculated-50 or AU-55 – can be had for about $1,200.
COINage published this article on how to earn money with coins in 2024. Click here to subscribe. Scott A. Travers. Photos Courtesy Stack’s Bowers Auctions.
The first time this article appeared in COINage Magazine was Top 12 Coins that will Make You Money by 2024.