1864-S $20.00 PCGS EF40 CAC OGH

Old Green Holder. I grade this coin a solid EF45 by today's standards. A handsome "Euro" example with deep green-gold color accentuated by darker highlights on the obverse and reverse. The surfaces are extremely clean. A nice example of this popular Civil War issue.

CAC has approved just this one coin in EF40 with seventeen in higher grades.

1864-S $5.00 PCGS VF30

The 1864-S is the second rarest business strike Liberty Head half eagle, trailing only the 1875. Of the 3,888 struck there are probably not more than two dozen or so known and with most of these off the market in tightly-held collections, it can be years between offerings. I have only handled two examples in the last five years and one of these was in a "genuine" holder. This piece has good overall detail for the date and grade with splashes of coppery color seen at the obverse border and at the right reverse. There are a few marks seen in the fields as one would expect from a coin in a 30 holder but nothing terribly detracting and the overall eye appeal level is better than you might expect. No 1864-S half eagles have appeared at auction since a PCGS VF35 (with a gigantic abrasion right on Liberty's cheek) in February 2009 and PCGS has a population of just fifteen in all grades. An important coin.

1864-S $10.00 PCGS VF30 CAC

With the exception of the 1875, the 1864-S is the rarest Liberty Head eagle. There are fewer than two dozen known and years can go by without the advanced collector having an opportunity to acquire an example. This fresh piece, which was just graded by PCGS after being off the market for decades, is a "gem" for the grade despite being "only" a VF30. Detail-wise, it is close to being a full EF and I think PCGS was conservative due to the weakness of strike on the eagle's neck feathers which is diagnostic for the date. The color is lovely with deep russet shades which change to iridescence at the date and the left stars; the reverse has a natural ring of concentric color at the border. This coin has the look of a piece that might have been stored in a leather pouch and the surfaces are incredibly clean for the issue. In the recent "secret" Rumsey auction held in February, a vastly inferior PCGS VF30 with signs of cleaning and a large reverse scratch sold for $34,500 with the buyer's premium. This piece is far, far nicer and it represents a fantastic opportunity for the advanced collector to obtain one of the rarest gold coins ever produced at the San Francisco mint.

1864-S $20.00 PCGS MS62

Before the discovery of a small number of Uncirculated examples in the S.S. Brother Johnathan and S.S. Republic shipwrecks, the 1864-S was nearly impossible to find above AU55 to AU58 grades. It remains rare in MS62 and it is very rare above this with just a small number (four or five) known in MS63. This example is likely from the "Bro Jo" although it is not indicated as such on the holder by PCGS. It has very slightly granular surfaces but they are not dull or "etched" like many of the coins from these wrecks. Both the obverse and the reverse show lovely rich natural orange-gold color with the reverse deeper and more even in hue than the obverse. There are a few light marks in the obverse fields that limit the grade. However, this is one of the cleanest and most dynamic-appearing examples of this date that I can recall having seen. Since February 2006, there have been five auction appearances for the date in PCGS MS62 with the prices realized ranging from a low of $14,950 to a high of $18,975. A PCGS MS63, if available, would certainly be a $30,000+ coin. For most collectors of Type One double eagles or Civil War gold, this 1864-S is "as good as it gets!"

1864-S $20.00 NGC MS61

While not designated as such by NGC, my guess is that this coin is one of the examples recovered from the S.S. Brother Jonathan. It has a slightly semi-granular texture and even light yellow gold color which is reminiscent of the better quality coins from this remarkable group. The eye appeal is really excellent with pleasing color, great detail for the issue (including full radial lines within the stars on the obverse) and very minimally abraded surfaces. A small area of scuffing in the left obverse field is probably all that is keeping this coin from an otherwise-possible MS62 grade. Since the beginning of 2009, only four MS61 examples of this popular Civil War date (all encapsulated by NGC) have sold at auction and anything graded higher than this is very difficult to locate as one might imagine. An important Type One double eagle for the advanced collector.