1863-S $2.50 NGC EF45

After the extremely rare 1854-S, the next scarcest San Francisco quarter eagle is the unheralded 1863-S which narrowly eclipses the 1862-S. Only 10,800 were made and the survival rate is very low with probably no more than 1% still known. Auction records for EF45's are very scant over the last decade with just five seen from 2000 to the present. The most recent was Heritage 7/12: 4734 at $2,300 and the one right before this was Heritage 9/05: 4346 at $2,530; both were encapsulated by NGC. This example is light green-gold color with good detail but a bit of weakness on the reverse; the obverse is nicely detailed. There are a few small scuffs in the fields that do not detract. Trends is too low on this date as the last four APR's (dating back to 11/03) are for more than $2,000. A good coin for the savvy collector who appreciates undervalued Civil War issues.

1863-S $20.00 NGC AU55

Medium S mintmark variety. This example seems to have original surfaces and its "Euro" style appearance makes me almost certain it is not from one of the shipwrecks that are the source of many higher grade 1863-S double eagles. The strike is well above average for the date with nearly full radial lines within the obverse stars and some definition on the hair strands. This date is actually fairly tough in this grade with original surfaces and I personally like the naked-eye appearance quite a bit.

There are two mintmark varieties for this date: the Small S and the Medium S. The latter appears to be more scarce.

1863-S $20.00 NGC EF45

My personal favorite from this date run of SF Type One double eagles with dark, even green-gold surfaces that are contrasted by deeper hues on the relief details. Clean, original and caked with nearly 150+ years of dirt and grime, this piece represents excellent value for the collector/investor who likes the double-play of bullion and numismatic scarcity.

1863-S $20.00 PCGS AU58 CAC

This coin ably illustrates why I like the AU58 grade so much. It has nearly full luster and shows no real wear (just some minor rub on the obverse high spots) yet it is priced at around half the amount that an MS61 would be, if available. This example has lovely rich rose and orange-gold color, nice luster and very choice surfaces with just a few small marks visible with the naked eye. Despite a high mintage of nearly a million coins, this date is not often seen in Uncirculated and many of the Mint State pieces are from shipwrecks. This example has totally original surfaces with no signs of matte-like luster and, to me, this makes it very desirable. Only one PCGS AU58 has sold at auction since October 2009 (Heritage 1/11: 7252 at $5,175) and it didn't have a CAC sticker. Speaking of which, this is one of eight in this grade with CAC approval with just three better. A great coin for the Type One or Civil War specialist.

1863-S $20.00 NGC MS62 CAC

Most high grade 1863-S double eagles are from shipwrecks (primarily the S.S. Brother Jonathan) but this remarkable coin appears to have natural non-seawater surfaces and is very rare as such. It shows great overall detail with some of the hair not fully struck (as usual) but with bold radial lines on the stars on both sides; the surfaces are nearly free of marks and very vibrant with rich natural color that deepens at the borders. I handled a PCGS MS62 example of this date earlier this year (also with a CAC sticker) and it is hard to say which of these is better; suffice to say that both are Condition Census examples. The only significantly better 1863-S double eagle that I have seen in some time is Heritage 1/12: 5041, graded MS64* by NGC, that went reasonably for $43,125. Only three of this date have been approved by CAC in MS62 and none finer. To say the least, a very important opportunity for someone to really add to their Type One or Civil War era double eagle set.

1863-S $5.00 PCGS VF25

Only 17,000 were struck; most were melted and less than 100 are known today. Well worn but clean, original and really an appealing example of this scarce Civil War issue. After years and years of neglect, affordable truly rare gold coins such as this 1863-S half eagle are (finally) popular as collectors recognize what excellent value they represent.

1863-S $20.00 PCGS MS62 CAC

As with most of the Civil War era San Francisco double eagles, the 1863-S is a condition rarity. Some Uncirculated pieces are known from the discovery of the Brother Jonathan and S.S. Republic shipwrecks but pieces in MS62 and above with original surfaces are very rare. This fresh-to-the-market example has a remarkable appearance for the grade with natural frosty luster and appealing light yellow-gold color. As on all known examples, the obverse strike is not totally defined while the reverse is considerably sharper. The surfaces have the body of an MS63 to MS64 but there are two small reeding marks near Liberty's bun that narrowly remove this piece from a higher grade. The last PCGS MS62 to sell at auction was Heritage 12/09: 1923 (at $18,400) which, while not designated as such, was clearly a shipwreck coin with dull, lackluster surfaces. This is the finest 1863-S double eagle that I have owned in a number of years and it is one of just three in MS62 approved by CAC with none finer. A very important piece that is destined for a world-class set of Type One double eagles.