1870 $5.00 PCGS AU58

Only 4,000 business strikes were made and this date is very scarce in all grades. In the higher AU grades, it is very rare and I am aware of just a single Uncirculated example (despite a PCGS population of two), the PCGS MS61 that is ex Bass II: 1169 at $14,375 back in 1999. This fresh ecoin has good eye appeal for the date and grade. It shows essentially no wear but there is just a bit too much friction on the high spots to rightfully call it Uncirculated. The semi-prooflike surfaces are touched by soft orange-gold and rose hues and this is one of just a small handful of 1870 half eagles that I have seen that haven't been processed and stripped of their full originality. The only other PCGS AU58 1870 half eagle is ex Heritage 5/05: 8647 and it aold for $8,050 back in a market in which coins like this were mostly met with indifference. A very important With Motto Liberty Head half eagle and a coin that is well up in the Condition Census for the date.

The NGC population figure of "24" in AU58 is clearly vastly inflated by resubmissions.

1848-D $5.00 PCGS AU53

Variety 21-N. The 1848-D is one of the scarcer half eagles from the Dahlonega mint and it is very hard to find well struck and lustrous. This example, which appears to be from an early die state, has no clashmarks and good details even at the centers. There is a considerable amount of luster; enough, in fact, to suggest an AU55 grade were it not for some small scuffs in the fields. Not including this coin, only four PCGS AU53's have been sold at auction since 2000. When I work with collectors assembling sets of Dahlonega half eagles, the 1848-D is always among the toughest to locate.

Ex Stacks Bowers 2012 ANA: 12359 ($3,738), Keystone collection.

1845-O $5.00 NGC MS61

It's always nice when old friends come home and this wonderfully crusty 1845-O half eagle is a coin that I first offered for sale about two years ago. I re-acquired it at the Long Beach show and, if anything, I like it even more than I did then. The 1845-O half eagle remains a very rare issue in Uncirculated with an estimated eight to ten known. The NGC population for MS61's is inflated and at least one or two of the pieces I have seen in said holders have been marginal at best. This example has lovely deep green-gold and russet colors, in slightly different configurations, on the obverse and reverse. The strike is sharp and the surfaces are free of significant marks. For the sake of identification, there is a patch of dirt near the top of star seven on the obverse and a few natural copper spots on the reverse. Since 1995, only five MS61 examples of this date have appeared at auction. The last sale is Heritage 6/11: 4631 (graded by NGC) that realized $10,350; in March 2010, Heritage sold a PCGS graded coin for $12,650. An impressive coin for an advanced collection of New Orleans half eagles.

1884-CC $10.00 PCGS AU55

While this date is only the second scarcest CC eagle from the 1880's, I see nice AU examples less often than I do the 1882-CC. Only 9,925 1884-CC eagles were struck and it is quite elusive in the higher AU grades. This example is very lustrous with yellow-gold color seen on both sides. There are some small surface abrasions, consistent with the grade, in the fields. The "scratches" on the neck of Liberty are, in fact, mint-made and they are seen on all known 1884-CC eagles. The last APR for a PCGS 55 is Heritage 1/11: 7111, which sold for $4,600. Carson City eagles are currently undergoing some strong demand and it has become hard to find interesting, PCGS-graded pieces for less than $7,500.

1855-D Large D $5.00 PCGS EF40

Variety 38-EE. Large D mintmark. There are two mintmark varieties known for the date. The Large D is considerably scarcer although it generally doesn't bring a big premium. As a date, the 1855-D is the third rarest Dahlonega half eagle, trailing only the 1861-D and the 1842-D Large Date. It is greatly undervalued in all grades and it is amazing that it sells for just a small premium over common issues such as the 1853-D and 1854-D. This example is weakly struck at the centers and shows light orange-gold surfaces with a hint of luster in the protected areas. If you collect Dahlonega half eagles by date or variety, you will recognize the importance of this offering.

1853 $20.00 NGC AU58

A very visually impressive example with lightly abraded, slightly Prooflike fields that are accentuated by rich yellow-gold color. The strike is really hammered for the date with many of the hair strands showing full, individual definition. It is likely that this coin never entered circulation and it is terrific eye appeal. The next jump up in quality for the 1853 double eagle will result in at least double the price and it is doubtful that many of the slabbed MS61 examples will have the appearance that this gem slider does.

1854-O $2.50 NGC MS61

Even though the population figures have increased over the years, the 1854-O quarter eagle is still a scarce and undervalued issue in Uncirculated. Of the few dozen accounted for in this range, most grade MS60 to MS61 and few show the rich luster and natural green-gold hues that this piece possesses. A few scuffs can be seen in the fields and the strike is slightly weak at the centers. In the last five years, only seven examples graded MS61 have appeared at auction.

1853-O $1.00 PCGS MS62 CAC

A very choice coin for the grade with good luster and pleasing medium green-gold color on the obverse and the reverse. A few small scuffs limit the grade but this piece has better eye appeal than many examples that I have seen in MS63 holders. A great introductory coin for the collector who would like an affordable but charismatic Type One gold dollar from the New Orleans mint.

CAC has approved seven in this grade with 11 finer.

1907 High Relief $20.00 NGC MS65 CAC

Wire Edge variety Is there a coin that says "my collection is world-class" more than a Gem quality High Relief? No, they aren't "rare" as hundreds exist but they are highly desirable and always in demand. And what of this example? It is housed in an older NGC holder and it is superb. The surfaces are intensely lustrous and display uncommonly rich lemon hues. What is most impressive, to my eyes, is the fact that this coin lacks the rub of the knee and breast of Liberty that is seen on nearly all High Reliefs; even pieces that grade MS65 and MS66. A few very small marks in the left obverse field keep this from an otherwise-plausible higher grade and the eye appeal is higher than nearly any High Relief graded MS65 that I have seen in a long time. This coin truly has it all as far as High reliefs go: great eye appeal, residence in an older holder (assurance, in this case, that it hasn't been "messed" with) and a CAC sticker. Let's dwell on this last point for a second. To date, 447 High Reliefs have been graded MS65 by NGC and PCGS combined. Assuming that there are a number of regrades, let's say that there 300 or so MS65 coins. To date, only 30 have been approved by CAC. Accounting for the fact that many have not been sent to CAC yet, it is still likely that no more than 75-100 of these coins will ever be stickered. That's a real consideration when you are searching for the "right" High Relief for your collection. An exciting offering for the collector who wants to own a truly beautiful coin.

CAC has approved 30 in this grade with 19 finer.