Currently Popular Gold Coin Rarities

A reader recently asked me an interesting question: “…can you name some currently popular gold coin rarities that might suffer the same fate as the (once popular but now forgotten) 1858 $10?” This is an excellent question and it got me thinking. I have identified a few potential popular-now-but-potentially-forgotten-in-the future gold issues. Type Two Gold Dollars, MS63 and better. Another dealer (someone whose abilities I really respect) told me an interesting story. Back in the 1970’s, when he was handling every conceivable rare United States gold coin, he never saw nice Type Two gold dollars. Today, they seem to be everywhere. Open any major auction catalog and you’ll see a number of Type Two gold dollars in the higher Uncirculated grades.

Despite the relative availability of these coins (PCGS has graded nearly 500 examples in MS63 and nearly 400 in MS64) prices for these issues remain high. In the most recent issue of Coin World Trends, the suggested price levels for 1854 and 1855 gold dollars are $15,000 in MS63 and $20,000 in MS64. Given the fact that there are nowhere near 900 people assembling sets of high grade gold type coins, I would contend that the supply of MS63 and MS64 Type Two gold dollars far exceeds the supply. Unless this type is actively promoted again, as it was back in the 1990’s, I would not be surprised if price levels dropped appreciably.

1842-C Small Date Half Eagle. The 1842-C Small Date is the key date Charlotte half eagle. It became popular in the 1970’s and prices rose considerably through the 1980’s and the early 1990’s. But the 1842-C Small Date half eagle hit the wall a few years ago. I think there are three reasons for this.

The first is that Charlotte coinage has (temporarily) fallen out of favor. The second is that this coin is, in all honesty, well overvalued in current price guides. Coin World Trends shows values of $55,000 for this issue in AU50 and $100,000 in AU58. A quick perusal of recent sales at auction will show that a number of 1842-C Small Date half eagles have sold for less than half of Trends value. The third is that this date can be filled in a set of Charlotte half eagles by an 1842-C Large Date which is considerably cheaper (around $5,000 for a nice AU). I would not be surprised to see prices and collector interest for this issue to continue to fall in the coming years.

1887 Half Eagle. This is one of a handful of Proof-only 19th century issues. Unlike some of its counterparts like the 1883, 1884 and 1887 double eagles, it suffers from being a member of a relatively unpopular series that lacks the strong collector support of Type Three double eagles.

Despite the fact that only 87 examples of this date were struck there are enough Proofs to go around that the few collectors who focus on Proof Liberty Head half eagles are able to easily locate an example of this date. The 1887 currently has a premium of close to 5x in PR63 and 4x in PR64 (i.e., it sells for around four times the price of a common date Proof Liberty Head half eagle in this grade) but I don’t personally see it having anywhere near four or five times the demand level or collectability of a common date Liberty Head half eagle. I personally like this issue but wouldn’t be shocked if it attains “forgotten rarity” status in the coming years.