While certainly not as scarce as the 1862 and 1863 Philadelphia double eagles, the 1864 is a tough date in its own right, especially with non-shipwreck surfaces and natural color. This example is very clean for the issue with no deep marks and both sides are covered with medium green-gold color that changes to pale red-gold at the borders.
If you collect Civil War double eagles you probably already know that the rarity of the Philadelphia issues, in order, are the 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and the 1861. The 1864 is a very hard issue to locate in the middle to higher AU grades and it is especially hard to locate with original color and surfaces. This piece has wholly natural orange-gold and medium greenish color on the obverse and reverse with a great naked eye "look." The surfaces are moderately scuffed with fewer abrasions than usual for the date and were it not for a small scrape in the left obverse field (in front of the portrait) an AU55 grade would be entirely within the realm of possibility. There have been just six APR's for this date in AU53 since January 2008 and the last record for a PCGS example was Heritage 6/11: 4905 which brought $5,750>
The three rarest circulation strike Liberty Head quarter eagles, in order, are the 1841, the 1854-S and the 1864. There are probably fewer than ten business strike 1841's and around twelve to fourteen of the 1854-S. The rarity of the 1864 isn't as well known but it doesn't lag the 1841 and the 1854-S by all that much with around twenty or so known in all grades (including the incredible Byron Reed NGC MS67 example which, in my opinion, is the single greatest Liberty Head quarter eagle in existence). Only 2,824 1864 quarter eagles were made and this issue was heavily melted as were all gold coins of the Civil War era. There are exactly three known in Uncirculated and maybe another eight or nine in About Uncirculated. After years of neglect, this issue has gained some popularity and the last three auction appearances for the date (all of which occcured in 2011) saw records of $46,000 for a PCGS AU55, $46,000 for an NGC AU58 and $40,250 for another in NGC AU58. In addition, I was recently offered an NGC AU58 for $49,000 by a knowledgable wholesale dealer. The example I offer for sale here is totally fresh to the market and it is perhaps the only circulated 1864 quarter eagle that I have seen that has original color and surfaces. From the standpoint of detail, this coin resembles an AU50 or even better and there is lovely natural reddish-gold color on both sides. There is a small natural mint-made planchet flaw at star six on the obverse that is not nearly as visible on the actual coin as it is on the image; the rest of the surfaces are very clean with no marks of note. I feel that this date is exceptionally undervalued given its rarity. I recently purchased an 1854-S quarter eagle in PCGS F12 for close to $200,000 and felt it was a very good deal; at one-tenth of the price, a nice EF 1864 just seems too cheap. If you are a serious Civil War gold collector or if you specialize in Liberty Head quarter eagles you are aware of this date's rarity and how hard it is to locate with such good eye appeal.
The Civil War half eagles from 1862 to 1865 are all very rare due to low original mintage figures and heavy melting. The 1864 is no exception and there are probably no more than 50-75 survivors from the original mintage of 4,170 business strikes. This date is seldom available for sale and when it is, it tends to be in lower grades and with heavy abrasions that lead to poor eye appeal. This example is one of the two best that I have seen in the past five years, along with Heritage 9/11: 4316, graded AU55 by PCGS, that sold for $9,200. It it slightly prooflike with some frost in the fields and nice light orange-gold color that deepens to rose at the borders. The fields are a bit scuffy but not nearly as much as is typical for the date. There is a small amount of wear on the high spots and the overall eye appeal is above average for the date. The two most recent APRs for AU58 1864 half eagles (both are NGC graded) are $7,475; one for Heritage 3/09: 2954 and the other for Heritage 2006 ANA: 1874. The present example is a nicer coin and the market for rare, low mintage half eagles is clearly better now than it was a few years back. An exciting coin for the specialist.
This is the only example of this date in AU58 that has been approved by CAC. None graded higher have been approved.
A total of 5,900 business strike gold dollars were coined in 1864. Around 2-3% of the original mintage survives today and many of these come from overseas sources where they were shipped during the Civil War to pay foreign creditors. This particular example is among the finest known and has the sort of color and appearance that are suggestive that it may have come from the Virgil Brand estate. Both sides show dramatic rose, orange and yellow hues in a swirling configuration. The strike is bold and the surfaces are very clean. Some light clashmarks can be seen on the obverse and the central reverse displays a few very minor ticks. CAC has approved just this one 1864 gold dollar in MS67 with a single coin better; a PCGS MS68 that sold for $27,600 as Heritage 8/11: 7412. Here is a coin that has it all: superb appearance, real numismatic rarity and historic significance due to its Civil War date.
The rarity of the 1862-1865 Philadelphia half eagles has been misunderstood for decades. Despite low mintages and no real reason why any should have survived, these coins have traditionally been overlooked in favor of less rare branch mint issues. But the word is finally out on the 1864 half eagle and I, for one, think this coin's sudden appreciation with collectors is long overdue. Only 4,170 business strikes were made and I doubt if more than 60-80 are known in all grades. This date becomes very rare in properly graded AU50 and above and the last PCGS 53 to sell at auction was in May 2000. A PCGS 55 just sold for $9,200 in the last Heritage auction (9/11, lot 4316). This lightly toned example has splashes of tangerine-gold color on the obverse and reverse and is nicely detailed. There are a few marks on the obverse including a series of three small abrasions ( a reeding mark?) from the chin and a light mark or two on the cheek. A nice example of this Civil War rarity.
One of just 2,630 struck and the second rarest Civil War Three Dollar gold piece after the 1865. This is a beautiful, crisp example with lovely yellow-gold and rose color atop highly lustrous surfaces. As on all known business strikes of this date there are some vertical striations as made but the luster and "flash" of the surfaces make these very unobtrusive. A few tiny marks at the lower obverse are really all that keep this from a much higher grade and it is a coin of uncommon appeal for the date. The last MS62 to appear at auction was back in March 2009 and only five pieces in this grade have sold at auction since 2004. Only one other 1864 Three Dollar in MS62 has received CAC approval. Great value at current levels as are so many dates in this series.
Small Motto Variety. PCGS Regency Holder. Garrett Collection Pedigree. Its been a long time since I saw a Two Cent Piece that I thought about adding to my inventory and even longer (like maybe forever?) since I've bought a five-figure example of this denomination. But this amazing coin, a combination of beauty, rarity and pedigree that is unbeatable, really speaks volumes to me. The Small Motto variety of 1864 Two Cents is very rare in the higher grades, particularly with mint red. This example has superb fiery red coloration with little mellowing and a total absence of spots. The luster is complete and unmellowed and the eye appeal certainly rivals any example of this variety that I have seen. To the best of my knowledge, the finest 1864 Small Motto Two Cent Piece to be offered for sale in recent years was Heritage 1/08: 2719, graded MS66 RD by PCGS, that brought an exceptional $32,200. Later that year, Heritage 10/089: 256, graded MS65 RD by PCGS and approved by CAC, brought a robust $21,850. The present example is encased in a PCGS Regency holder which, as best as I remember, was offered as a slabbing option for only a few months around 1994/1995. If you are a serious collector of this enigmatic type and you are looking for the best possible quality, this Small Motto has to receive your serious consideration.
Ex Bowers and Ruddy Garrett I: 220 (10/79) as "MS65" where it sold for a then very strong $4,500; obtained by the Garrett family in the Thomas Elder 2/1923 auction. The original tag from the Garrett Sale is included and it states that this coin was purchased by Hancock and Harwell, the Atlanta dealers.