Gold Coin Coloration

Why don’t gold coins with great coloration sell for a significant premium as copper, silver and nickel coins with a similar appearance do? On certain types of gold coins, superb natural coloration can sometimes be seen. As an example, some of the high grade gold dollars from the 1870’s and the 1880’s can be found with magnificent rose, orange and green-gold hues. Proof silver type coins from this era with wonderful color traditionally sell for big premiums over pieces with average quality coloration.

I believe that there are a few possible answers to this question.

First of all, many insanely toned silver coins are often very common pieces which are given big premiums solely because of their color. Dramatic multi-colored toning might be the only reason that someone wants to buy an otherwise-mundane coin like a common Peace Dollar or a silver commemorative half dollar. Clever marketers were quick to see that this was the best way to turn a $50 coin into a $10,000 coin. If a big marketing company starting selling MS67 and MS68 gold dollars for a big premium because of their color, their thinking just might catch on with the mainstream.

The second reason has to do with the fact that toning on gold coins tends not to be as visually dramatic as on silver or copper coins. You don’t see gold coins with stunning rings of peripheral blues and reds. But the natural coloration of gold is warm and attractive and most uncleaned pieces are fairly pretty to begin with. In my opinion (and if you disagree please don’t send me an irate email…) the natural appearance of most silver and copper coins just isn’t as pretty as their gold brethren.

It seems to me that superbly toned gold coins are a great market play right now, especially if they can be obtained for just a small premium over “normal” examples. If and when PCGS and NGC start designating eye appeal on their holders (NGC has semi-embraced this concept with the star designation) it will be interesting to see if very pretty gold coins sell for very big premiums.