Without a lot of fanfare, we have seen the dispersal of one of the most amazing collecting of Western branch mint gold coins in the history of numismatics. So far in 2014, the various sales of the Bently/Nob Hill Collection(s) of US Gold Coinage has seen no less than six examples each of the rare 1870-CC eagle and double eagle with the promise of more to come.
The sale of this quantity of 1870-CC eagles and double eagles has made me reconsider the rarity and price structure of both issues. It has not only allowed me to get an excellent idea of exact valuations for both issues in a variety of grades, it has led me to ask an important question: is the 1870-CC eagle undervalued in comparison to its double eagle counterpart?
Before I attempt to answer this question, let’s take a quick look at both issues.
A total of 5,908 1870-CC eagles were struck. This is the rarest Carson City eagle (although the 1879-CC makes a strong claim to the rarest coin in the series) and there are an estimated 50-60 pieces known with most in the VG-VF range.
There were 3,789 1870-CC double eagles struck. It is the rarest CC gold coin of any denomination and I feel that there are 35-45 known in all grades; mostly in the VF-EF range.
Let’s look at the current PCGS population figures for each issue:
$10.00 G-VF : 23; EF: 18; AU: 10; UNC: 0; Total: 51
$20.00 G-VF : 6; EF: 22; AU: 5; UNC: 0; Total: 33
These numbers tell us a few things. First, as expected, the 1870-CC double eagle is around twice as rare as its counterpart the 1870-CC. Interestingly, the eagle is seen more often in lower grades (the average example grades VF) while the average grade for the double eagle is EF. Both issues are extremely rare in properly grade AU and are unknown in anything close to Mint State.
We might make the quick conclusion that based on rarity alone, the 1870-CC double eagle should be worth around 2x what an 1870-CC eagle is worth in VF, EF and AU grades.
Based on the sales of so many 1870-CC eagles and double eagles in 2014, I’d suggest the following valuations for each denomination:
- VF: $25,000-40,000 (depends on grade/grading service)
- EF40: NGC $40,000-45,000; PCGS $45,000-50,000
- EF45: NGC $45,000-50,000; PCGS $50,000-55,000
- AU50: NGC $60,000-65,000; PCGS $70,000-75,000
- AU55: NGC $125,000-135,000; PCGS $150,000-175,000
- VF: $175,000-225,000 (depends on grade/grading service)
- EF40: NGC $235,000-250,000; PCGS $250,000-265,000
- EF45: NGC $260,000-280,000; PCGS $275,000-290,000
- AU50: NGC $285,000-295,000; PCGS $310,000-330,000
- AU55: NGC $325,000-350,000; PCGS $400,000-425,000
Assuming that the price structure for the 1870-CC double eagle is “correct” (and I think it is, based on the number of coins which have sold over the last few years), why is the 1870-CC eagle not priced at around half the level of its counterpart?
I think there are a few answers to this. The 1870-CC double eagle is a more famous coin with a lower mintage. It is larger in size and it is part of a set (Carson City double eagles) which ranks as among the most avidly collected in all of upper-echelon American numismatics.
Double eagle rarities have multiple levels of demand, and the 1870-CC is a coin that often sells to a collector or investor who might not be a tried and true specialist.
I think we are beginning to see a strong shift in the eagle market and this denomination is now gaining in popularity and price. CC eagles aren’t as popular (yet) as double eagles, but the metrics for these series is clearly changing.
My conclusion is that the 1870-CC eagle is undervalued. If a nice quality EF45 1870-CC double eagle is worth in the $275,000-295,000 range, an 1870-CC eagle at $50,000-55,000 seems substantially undervalued. Given that the 1870-CC eagle in EF is pretty similar in rarity to the 1870-CC double eagle (see the chart above), it is hard to believe that it is worth only 1/5th as much. I can easily see the 1870-CC eagle in EF and AU grades doubling in price in the next five years; I’m not sure I can say the same for the 1870-CC double eagle.
What are your thoughts about the price and rarity of the 1870-CC eagle and double eagle? I would love for you to comment below.
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