Undervalued Areas in the Rare Coin Market

While I don’t claim to have a crystal ball, I usually have a pretty good sense of which areas in the field of rare gold coin collecting are poised to show an increase in interest in the coming years. Here are some areas which I feel are undervalued and which have the potential of becoming the Next Big Thing. 1. Classic Head Gold Coinage: If you are a regular reader of my blogs you know that I am a big fan of Classic Head gold coinage. I think the design of these coins is attractive and I like the fact that they neatly bridge the gap between “old gold” and the more familiar Liberty Head design that was employed for nearly 70 years.

One reason why Classic Head gold has not become very actively collected by specialists is the lack of a good Winter-esque style guide book. What I find very interesting about this series (in addition to the fact that it is short-lived and thus very completable) is that there are a number of fascinating varieties in both the quarter eagle and half eagle series. Many of these are touched on in the Breen Encyclopedia while others are described in detail and illustrated in the Bass catalogs. While I’m not a variety guy, per se, I do find a number of the varieties in these series very interesting and if someone were to better catalog and illustrate them clearly showing the differences, I think they would become very widely collected.

Another reason I like Classic Head gold is the interesting branch mint issues contained in both the quarter eagle and half eagle series. Clearly I am not a lone voice in the wilderness when it comes to issues such as the 1839-O quarter eagle or the 1838-C and 1838-D half eagles as these have seen considerable price increases in the last few years. Despite these increases, I still think the branch mint Classic Head gold issues are comparatively undervalued and if the Classic Head series becomes more widely collected by date then these issues will show even further appreciation in the coming years.

You need to remember that many of these varieties are quite rare to begin with and this is not a collecting specialty which could support more than a few serious collectors at any given time. I think the area which is likely to see the greatest number of specialists is the Capped Bust Large Eagle half eagles struck between 1795 and 1807; particularly the issues produced between 1800 and 1807. Dates like the 1804 and 1806, of which there are seven and six different varieties, respectively, are not prohibitively expensive on a per-coin basis as long as the collector is content to purchase nice EF and AU coins.

2. High Grade New Orleans Eagles: I base this prediction on how well coins like this sell for me when I list them on my website. I am referring primarily to common date New Orleans eagles (such as the 1901-O, 1903-O, 1904-O and 1906-O) in MS63 and higher grades.

Here’s why I love a coin like the 1901-O eagle in MS63. The current PCGS population for this date in this grade is forty-two with just nine graded better. Trends is currently $3,500 and when I have these available I generally ask in the area of $3,250-3,350. Now look at a common date like the 1901-S which has a PCGS population of 3,920 with 3,209 graded better. These routinely sell for $1,100 in MS63 and you can literally buy them by the wheelbarrowfull at any major show. In my opinion, the 1901-O at a three times premium above the 1901-S is great value.

A coin like a 1901-O eagle in MS63 traded for around $2,500 a year or two ago so the market has clearly started to rise. But at the same point in time, a 1901-S traded for around $1,250. This means that the premium factor has only risen from 2x to 3x. It would not surprise me if in the next year or two, the premium factor grew to at least 4x and possibly as high as 5x.

3. Civil War gold: It’s just a matter of time before someone starts promoting date runs of Civil War gold issues. It’s been done before and it seems like such a no-brainer promotion I’m sure it will be done again.

The only problem with doing a comprehensive promotion of Civil War era gold is, of course, finding enough quantity to make such a promotion worthwhile. As an example, the gold dollars from 1861 to 1865 seem easy enough to promote but just try to find a quantity of 1863’s in any grade. You can forget promoting quarter eagles from this era due to the extreme rarity of the 1863 and the 1864 issues - and the 1865 Three Dollar is rare enough to put the kibosh on this series. I guess if I had the answer I would be running the promotion myself right now. But I can just see that beautiful full-color brochure with the battlefield scene and the 1862 three dollar gold piece imposed on top of it….