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All Posts Tagged With: "branch mints"

Some Further Thoughts on Carson City Double Eagle Gold Coins

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

I’ve been working on a third edition of my book on Carson City gold coins. For some odd reason, I’ve been working from back to front, meaning that I’ve done the new research of double eagles before following this with eagles and half eagles. I’ve been able to uncover some really eye-opening new information on the rarity and price levels of Carson City double eagles and I’d like to share a few tidbits.

The last Carson City book that I produced was published in 2001, so almost a full decade has passed. My first impression about the market for Carson City double eagles is that it has become far, far more active than ever. Prices have risen significantly since 2001, especially for rarities and for high grade pieces.

In 2001, the five rarest Carson City double eagles in terms of overall rarity (i.e., total known) were the 1870-CC, 1891-CC, 1871-CC, 1878-CC and 1879-CC (these last two issues were tied for fourth rarest). In 2010, the five rarest Carson City double eagles in terms of overall rarity are the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1891-CC, 1879-CC and 1885-CC (these last two issues were tied for fourth rarest).

The 1870-CC has remained an extremely rare coin, despite a surprisingly high frequency of auction appearance in the middle part of this decade. I had previously thought 35-45 were known. Today, I think that number is around 40-50. This includes a number of low grade coins and at least five or six that are either damaged or cleaned to the point that can not be graded by PCGS or NGC.

The rarity of the 1891-CC seems to have diminished quite a bit. I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that I overestimated its rarity in 2001. The second is that a significant number of examples have been found in Europe and other overseas sources. This date hasn’t become plentiful in higher grades but it is far more available in AU50 to AU55 than I ever remember it being before.

The 1871-CC seems more available as well. In 2001, this issue was very hard to find in any grade and it was almost never seen above AU50. Today it is more available and the number of coins graded AU53 to AU55 has risen dramatically. I would attribute much of this to gradeflation as the majority of the 1871-CC double eagles that I see in AU53 and AU55 holders are “enthusiastically” graded, to say the least. In properly graded Mint State, the 1871-CC remains exceedingly rare.

A date whose rarity has become more apparent is the 1885-CC. In the 2001 edition of my book, this date was not even listed in the top six rarest Carson City double eagles. I now rank it as being tied for fourth along with the 1879-CC.

Everyone loves a sleeper, right? The dates that I believe are underrated (and undervalued) in the Carson City double eagle series include the 1872-CC, 1877-CC, 1882-CC and 1892-CC.

In higher grades (AU50 and above), the rarity scale of the Carson City double eagle series has remained remarkably consistent. In 2001, I stated that the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1879-CC, 1878-CC, 1891-CC and 1872-CC were, in that order, the six rarest issues. In 2010, I believe the six rarest are the 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1878-CC, 1879-CC, 1872-CC and 1891-CC. In other words, the same six dates are still the keys in higher grades but there are now some minor changes in the order. (more…)

A Look at the Current Market for Type One Gold Double Eagles Coins

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

How’s the market doing for Type One double eagles? Good question and one that I feel well-qualified to answer, having been a very active participant in this market for over two decades.

We’ve had a lot of interesting external factors shape the Type One market in the last few years. Naturally, the severe economic conditions of 2007-2009 had a profound influence; especially at the high end of the market. And even if the economy had been strong there’s a chance that prices for rarities might have slowed down on their own, given the extreme rise in prices we had seen in the Type One market for the previous five years. It was natural that there would be some profit taking; what I didn’t expect was some of the forced sales we saw in 2007 and 2008.

And then there is the X factor in the Type One market: the incredible run-up in gold prices that has seen metal prices top $1,200 per ounce, and the associated pressures on supply that this has brought with it.

All that said, I’m pretty amazed at how strong this segment of the market is right now. In my mind, there is no question that most Type One double eagles valued at less than $5,000 are in greater demand than I can ever remember. I also think that prices are about as strong as I can recall for these coins. If you look at recent auction, nearly all decent quality EF45 to AU58 Type One double eagles are bringing in excess of Trends (more on pricing in a second…) and these coins are typically selling at auction to dealers; not necessarily end-user collectors.

The coins priced at $5,000-20,000 are generally quite strong as well, although not as much so as at the lower price point. The key factors for Type One double eagles in this price range are: eye appeal, eye appeal, eye appeal and the “sexiness” of the date. This is clearly a collector-oriented market and really pretty coins (i.e., those that are not excessively bagmarked, those that are not all bright and shiny and those that are well-made) are in great demand. Average and below-average quality coins still sell; especially if they are useful dates. But they do not bring the premium prices that the nice coins bring.

The real weakness in this market a few years ago was with the expensive coins. As I touched on above the reasons for this were twofold. When the world economy seemed to be melting down, people weren’t all that crazy about dropping $50,000 on a coin. And prices had risen so much on many of the key issues that many market participants wondered if certain key issues were still good values at the levels they had risen to.

Before addressing some specific areas in the market, I mentioned earlier about difficulties with pricing. Coin World Trends ability to keep up with this area in the market appears to not be as good as it was before and many Type One issues now sell for over Trends. This is particularly true with less expensive coins in circulated grades. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Bowers & Merena auction, Proof 1876-CC dime, and $150 million for the CAC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #5

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

I will not be discussing the most expensive or the rarest coins that are coming ‘on the auction block’ this week. Rather, I have selected a few that I find to be both newsworthy and particularly interesting. Admittedly, these are expensive. I continue to insist, though, that an understanding of rare coins, and of the values in the coin collecting community, requires knowledge of coins that most collectors cannot afford.

Suppose that this column was geared towards art enthusiasts rather than coin enthusiasts. Would it then make sense to discuss only the paintings that most art collectors could afford? Collectors who cannot afford great and culturally important paintings enjoy learning about them and often learn to apply their knowledge of famous painting to their interpretations of a wide variety of not-so-famous paintings. Likewise, coin enthusiasts, in general, appreciate coins that are great, famous, very rare and/or important to the culture of coin collecting.

Please see my discussions below of the following coins. The 1851-O trime is the only Three Cent Silver issue that was not struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Indeed, it is curious that the New Orleans Mint struck this denomination, as the Branch Mints tended not to manufacture small denomination coins in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Eighth-Dollar is certainly extremely rare and extremely curious. The 1926-S nickel issue is just incredibly difficult to find in MS-65 or MS-66 grade. As I discussed one in last week’s column, I could not resist mentioning another, as B&M will auction it this week in Baltimore. Similarly, I discussed a rare and historically important King James II English gold coin last week and B&M will auction a coin of the same design type this week. Plus, the unique Proof 1876-CC dime is one of the most exciting coins of all.

II. The CAC Surpasses $150 Million Level

It is widely known that the CAC approves (or rejects) submitted coins that are already graded by the PCGS or the NGC. Approved coins receive a green sticker, or, in rare instances, a gold sticker. It is not as widely known that the CAC will make sight unseen commitments to pay competitive prices for CAC approved coins. These are not ‘low ball’ bids. As of June 15, the CAC has purchased $154 million of coins, almost all of which are CAC approved.

The CAC was founded by John Albanese in Oct. 2007. CAC purchases have thus been averaging more than $4.7 million per month. The $150 million level was reached in early June.

Albanese was the sole founder of the Numismatic Guaranty Corp (NGC) in 1987. Around Dec. 1998, he sold his shares in the NGC to Mark Salzberg, who is the current NGC Chairman. (For more discussion of the CAC, please see my articles on CoinFest, Jay Brahin’s Coins, the PCGS graded MS-68+ 1901-S quarter, the 20th Century Gold Club, and Dr. Duckor’s quarters.)

Although the CAC has acquired thousands of coins that are valued at under $5000 each, the CAC has approved and acquired some very famous coins. Among others, the Eliasberg 1870-S silver dollar and the finest known, Rogers-Madison 1796 ‘No Stars’ Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) come to my mind.

III. Unique Proof 1876-CC Dime

Laura Sperber, of Legend Numismatics, acquired the unique Proof 1876-CC dime from a New Jersey dealer in early June. On Saturday, June 12, she sold it for an amount in excess of $200,000. It “went into a collection of Proof Seated Dimes,” Sperber reveals. It is certified as Proof-66 by the PCGS and has a sticker of approval from the CAC. (more…)

How To Collect Charlotte Gold Coins

By Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

Charlotte Gold Dollar, $2.50 and $5.00There are many ways to collect Charlotte gold. Some people have only a mild interest in these coins and may buy just one or two pieces. Other people are more serious and they have a large number of Charlotte issues in their collection. A small number of Charlotte collectors are obsessives who focus exclusively on these pieces and do not collect anything else. I would like to make some suggestions on how to collect Charlotte gold. In my experience, all of these ideas have merit and none is “better” than the other. It depends on the tastes and budget of an individual collector to determine which one(s) is right for him.

I. THE INTRODUCTIORY THREE COIN SET

The most basic way to collect Charlotte gold is to purchase a single example of the gold dollar, quarter eagle and half eagle denominations. This is a very good way to collect for the individual who has a limited budget or who is not certain how deep his interest lies in Charlotte gold.

A basic three coin set of Charlotte gold should consist of nice, problem-free pieces. It would make sense to focus on the more common dates although some collectors might prefer to include some scarcer issues. The grade range for these coins is likely to fall in the Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated-58 range.

The 1851-C is the most logical choice for the gold dollar in this set as it is the most common and affordable date. A pleasing Extremely Fine can be obtained for $1,500 or so. About Uncirculated pieces range from $1,750 to $3,500 depending on quality.

The optimum quarter eagle for this set is the 1847-C as it is the most common date of this denomination from Charlotte by a large margin. A nice Extremely Fine example costs around $2,000 while About Uncirculated coins range from $2,500 to $4,000. It is possible to upgrade to a much scarcer date without paying a substantial premium. As an example, the 1843-C Large Date sells for around the same price in Extremely Fine as does the 1847-C but it is much harder to locate.

In About Uncirculated, the 1847-C used to be much less expensive than all other Charlotte quarter eagles but the price spread has diminished in the last few years. This, in my opinion, makes dates such as the 1843-C Large Date, 1848-C and 1858-C very interesting alternatives, especially in the lower range of the About Uncirculated grades.
(more…)

The Second US Mint at San Francisco: Part One

This is the first article in the series.

The “New Mint” – The “Granite Lady.”

The early history of Alta California included the establishment of a series of Missions by the Franciscan Monks, accompanied by Spanish soldiers from Mexico and, from the north, the fur trappers, including those from Russia. The population, at fi rst, was sparse. On September 16, 1848, there were only about 15,000 people in Alta California. However, this changed rapidly with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill near Coloma by John Marshall on January 24, 1848. Soon, the “gold rush” began, led by the miners known as the “49ers.” Within two years, California was admitted to the Union as the 31st state in 1850.Workers inside the SF Mint

A desperate need for financial institutions soon followed. Some twenty private mints of various sizes and efficiency were established. On September 16, 1848, a newspaper, “The Californian” printed a resolution reciting this great need and asking for action.

The “action” was soon forthcoming. President Fillmore, in his first Message to Congress, December 2, 1850, recommended that a U.S. branch mint be established in California to meet the need there. The California State Legislature, meeting in Sacramento on April 9, 1852, approved a resolution asking that a mint be established in San Francisco. Congress authorized a U.S. branch mint in California and passed the Act of July 3, 1852 noting the facility would be located in San Francisco.

The minting of coins soon got underway. The new mint was located in a small, sixty square foot building located on Commercial St. However, it soon became apparent the facility was inadequate, even with modifications. The mint’s director remarked: “It is almost impossible to conceive how so much work can be well done, and so much business transacted safely in so small a space.”

The problem grew worse. With the discovery of the vast amount of silver from Nevada’s Comstock Lode, the huge influx of silver sealed the fate of the small facility on Commercial St. The plans to either find a new building or look for a new site and construct a facility commenced. On December 6, 1866 the “Daily Alta California” reported a recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury by a person named Miller that “the Vara lot located at the corner of Mission and Fifth Sts., owned by Eugene Kelly, be purchased to house the new building.”

In his annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1866, James Pollock, Director of the Mint, wrote: “I cannot too earnestly urge upon the Government the importance of erecting a new Mint building at San Francisco. The present building is not only wholly unfitted for the large and increasing business of the Branch Mint, but unsafe, and unworthy of the great mineral wealth of the Pacifi c States.”

A special telegraphic message to the “Daily Alta California” on Feb. 5, 1867, reported the purchase of this lot on Feb. 4th for $100,000 in coin. The plans were for a building 220 feet long by 166 feet wide, to cost $600,000. (more…)

Carson City Double Eagles Gold Coins: An Introduction and Overview

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

Carson City twenty dollar gold pieces, or double eagles, are the most available gold coins from this mint. Only one date in the series, the 1870-CC, can be called truly rare, although a number of other dates are very rare in high grades. Amassing a complete collection with an example of each date is an enjoyable pursuit. And if you decide not to include the 1870-CC because of its prohibitive cost, don’t despair; many collections do not include this date.

A collector of average means can put together a nice set of Carson City double eagles with the average coins in the Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated range. The collector will soon learn that only the 1870-CC presents a great challenge in terms of availability. There are an estimated 40-50 examples known in all grades. This means that no more than four dozen or so complete collections of Carson City double eagles could possibly exist. In comparison, the maximum number of Carson City half eagles that could exist is around five dozen while around three dozen (or a few more) eagle sets from this mint might be formed. In each series, the 1870-CC is clearly the “stopper” or key date.

The completion of an average quality Carson City double eagle set is somewhat easier than a comparable half eagle or eagle set, provided that the collector is willing to accept coins that do not grade Mint State-60 or better. There are just 19 dates required to form a complete set. Carson City double eagles are without a doubt among the most popular United States gold coins. Their large size, combined with their romantic history, makes them irresistible to many collectors. This fervent collector base is most evident when one examines the great popularity of the 1870-CC. This issue has increased dramatically in price and popularity since the last edition of my Carson City gold coins book was published in 2001. As this is being written (2010) there are a few examples actually available to collectors but a few years back it was nearly impossible to locate an 1870-CC double eagle at any price.

The greatest challenge for the collector of these coins is not finding specific dates but, rather, locating clean problem-free coins.

As with the other Carson City gold series, it is very challenging to pursue the double eagles in higher grades; in this case About Uncirculated-55 and higher. It becomes even more of a challenge when the collector demands clean, original coins with a minimum of bagmarks and abrasions. As a rule, CC double eagles are less rare in high grades than their half eagle and eagle counterparts (at least the issues from the 1870’s and 1880’s). This means that locating really choice coins is not as difficult as with the half eagles and eagles from the first decade of this mint’s operation. (more…)

Finally…An Appeciation for San Francisco Gold Coinage

After decades and decades in the dumps, it looks like there are small signs of life in the San Francisco gold coin market. But the activity in this market area is sporadic, to say the least, and is being led by exactly the sort of coins that you wouldn’t think would be the pacesetters.

There are plenty of overgraded, unappealing high priced San Francisco gold coins on the market right now. You haven’t been able to give these away for years. You still can’t. San Francisco gold coins that are faux-rarities, uninteresting dates or processed with no eye appeal are impossible to sell.

The coins that are suddenly selling have three things in common:

1. They are genuinely rare dates and most are either from the Civil War era or the years right before the war (i.e., 1858 through 1860).

2. They are well-worn but problem-free coins in the VG to VF grade range. These are true collector coins and this little renaissance of interest is obviously collector-based.

3. They are in PCGS holders. There are a few exceptions to this rule but the people buying these coins seem to want PCGS graded coins. This may be because they are forming Registry Sets.

The denominations that seem to have generated the most interest are half eagles and eagles but from time to time a quarter eagle is included as well.

The recent Heritage Central States auction included a few early, rare San Francisco gold coins that nicely illustrate this new trend. Let’s take a quick look at each.

The first was Lot 3476, an 1862-S quarter eagle that was graded F15 by PCGS. This is a rare date in all grades with just 8,000 struck. It sold for $1,092.50 against a Trends value of $550 in F12. Why did it sell for double Trends? The reason is obvious: Trends is way too low for a coin as rare as this. I would have figured it was worth around $700-800 but even at a shade under $1,100 I think its great value. (more…)

Stack’s Sells Two Important Dahlonega Gold Coin Rarities

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

In their recently concluded January 2010 Americana sale held in New York, there were two record-setting Dahlonega gold coins that I think are worth taking a closer look at. What were these two pieces and why did they sell for as much money as they did?

The first piece was an 1861-D gold dollar graded AU53 by PCGS. I had sold this exact coin a few years ago and was familiar with it. It was very high end for the date and grade and, by today’s standards, would probably grade AU55 to AU58. I expected that it would bring around $40,000 or so. It sold for $57,500. I believe that this is an all-time record price for a circulated 1861-D dollar.

This coin did so well for a number of reasons. The first, obviously, is that it was a nice coin. 1861-D gold dollars are not well-known for having good eye appeal and the last few that have been available have either been damaged or not terrifically appealing. The second is that there is currently an unprecedented demand for this date. The 1861-D dollar is an indisputably cool coin and a lot of people are looking for coins like this right now. Given the supply/demand ratio, it seemed likely that this coin would sell for a strong price but, again, I was pretty stunned at it bringing close to $60,000.

What would this coin have sold for in another environment? Probably a lot less. One thing about auctions is that it only takes two people to really want a coin and it can sell for a ton of money. If I had owned this exact 1861-D dollar and put it on my website, I’m sure my asking price would have been in the low $40’s and I might have not even expected to get that much money for it. But now that the bar has been raised for the 1861-D dollar, I expect that the next one offered will be priced enthusiastically, to say the least. (more…)