As I’ve written before, I like coins with what I call “multiple levels of demand.” What this means is a coin that is sought by a number of different sorts of collectors. As an example, the typical Dahlonega half eagle is likely to appeal mostly to a Dahlonega specialist whereas a coin like an 1838-D half eagle might appeal to a broader range of collectors due to its status as a one-year type and a first-year of issue. There are not all that many gold coins that have such widespread appeal that they might be tempting to, say a Lincoln Cent specialist. But the coins that I am going to list below are pieces that in my experience have strong cross-collector appeal. I have sold a High Relief, as an example, to collectors who have never bought another St. Gaudens double eagle and probably never will. But I have never sold a rare date Saint (let’s say a 1929 in MS65) to a collector who specialized in Charlotte gold and wanted a rare date like the 1929 just “for grins.”
There are a number of rare gold coins with multiple levels of demand. For the sake of brevity, I am going to just list five. I can think of another five very easily. I’d like your input in case I decide to write another of these articles, so please feel free to list your five and send them to me by email at email@example.com.
Without further ado, here’s my Fave Five Rare Date Gold Coins with broad levels of demand.
1. 1861-D Gold Dollar: This is a coin that I could probably sell a dozen of if I had them available. The 1861-D gold dollar appeals to a broad number of people for many reasons. It has a great historical perspective as it was issued by the Confederacy. It appeals to Dahlonega collectors as a key issue and to gold dollar specialists as well. It is rare in all grades and it has a crudeness about it that appeals to collectors who like “neat” coins. I’ve never had a hard time selling one and it is a coin that I would buy in nearly any grade, providing it wasn’t damaged or harshly cleaned.
2. 1845-O Quarter Eagle: Every coin dealer (and collector) has a few “pet” dates and, for me, the 1845-O quarter eagle is very high on the list. It probably doesn’t have the high level of demand among non-specialists that the other four coins in this group have but I think this issue is so rare, so undervalued and so historic that it belongs in any favorite’s list that I write. What do I like most? How about the mintage of just 4,000? The fact that this date was essentially unknown until the 1890’s? That a presentable VF to EF can be purchased for less than $5,000 makes it seem even more cool to me.
3. 1854-O Three Dollar: This isn’t a really rare coin and that’s one of the things that appeals to me about the 1854-O. I recently sold a nice, evenly worn EF for less than $3,500 and I’ve sold examples that cost over $50,000. What I like about this issue is the fact that it is the only three dollar gold piece from New Orleans. Unlike the 1854-D (another one-year issue) it is inexpensive enough that a collector who has no interest in Three Dollar gold pieces would buy one; unlike the 1854-D that is expensive and which might cause many collectors to think twice before an impetuous purchase.
4. 1838-C Half Eagle: This is another first-year of issue. It is traditionally linked with the very popular 1838-D half eagle (another first-year issue that is a one-year type as well). What I like more about the 1838-C is while it is probably a bit less scarce than the 1838-D in terms of overall rarity, it is far rarer in high grades. I regard the 1838-C as an extremely scarce coin in properly graded AU50 to AU53 and it is genuinely rare in choice, original AU55 to AU58. In all my years of specializing in Charlotte gold, I’ve only handled two legitimately Uncirculated 1838-C half eagles and only four or five that I regarded as true AU55 to AU58 pieces. Despite this coin’s rarity, it is still affordable in VF and EF grades.
5. 1838 Eagle: Here’s another first-year-of-issue that has gone from mostly unknown to very popular in the past few years. It is the first eagle produced after a thirty-four year hiatus and it is a rare, low mintage date with just 7,200 struck. It isn’t technically a one-year issue (a number of 1839 eagles have the same design) but it is a coin that is held in very high accord by collectors who do not care for the Liberty Head eagle series on the whole. Unlike the other dates listed above, the collector contemplating an 1838 eagle will have to consult various pricing sources as both Trends as the Greysheet do not reflect the levels that this date has brought at auction and via private treaty of late.