1848-D $5.00 PCGS AU53

Variety 21-N. The 1848-D is one of the scarcer half eagles from the Dahlonega mint and it is very hard to find well struck and lustrous. This example, which appears to be from an early die state, has no clashmarks and good details even at the centers. There is a considerable amount of luster; enough, in fact, to suggest an AU55 grade were it not for some small scuffs in the fields. Not including this coin, only four PCGS AU53's have been sold at auction since 2000. When I work with collectors assembling sets of Dahlonega half eagles, the 1848-D is always among the toughest to locate.

Ex Stacks Bowers 2012 ANA: 12359 ($3,738), Keystone collection.

1853/2 $10.00 NGC AU53 CAC

There is only one (count them: one) legitimate overdate in all the Liberty Head eagle series: the 1853/2. This is an unquestionable overdate with evidence of the 2 clearly in the lower loop of the 3. I think this variety is clearly underrated and this surprises me, given the surge in popularity of this series. This coin is very choice for the grade with the appearance of an AU55. Unlike most 1853/2 eagles, it lacks serious marks and the surfaces exhibit a good deal of luster below light green-gold color. The last APR for an NGC AU53 is Heritage 3/12: 4106 but this coin was non-CAC and not nearly as choice as the current example. Terrific value for the collector who likes unusual coins.

CAC has approved three in this grade with five finer.

1857-O $2.50 PCGS AU53 CAC

This coin was formerly in an NGC AU55 holder and it had a CAC sticker; it was "downcrossed" to a PCGS AU53 where it now looks pretty undergraded to me! The surfaces are very deeply toned in rich green-gold shades and this is one of the few circulated 1857-O quarter eagles that I can recall with such original surfaces. This is the final year of issue for quarter eagles from this mint and the 1857-O, while not really scarce, is extremely hard to find with this appearance.

This is the only CAC AU53 example of this date; thirteen graded higher have been apporved.

From the RYK Collection.

1856 $20.00 NGC AU53 CAC

Housed in an older NGC holder and graded many years ago; by today's standards I think this coin is closer to AU55 than it is to AU53. The 1856 is my favorite affordable "sleeper" Type One issue. It is scarce in the lower AU grades, very scarce in properly graded AU58 and rare in Uncirculated. This nicely toned example is original and very clean for the issue with pleasing green-gold and orange hues. There is a decent amount of luster seen on both sides and good detail at the centers. Great value at less than $4,000!

CAC has approved four 1856 double eagles in AU53 with only six finer.

1878-CC $20.00 NGC AU53

Along with the 1879-CC, this is one of the harder CC double eagles to find in any grade and it becomes nearly impossible to locate in AU58 and above. This example has beautiful deep natural orange-gold and greenish color which is "right" for the issue; most 1878-CC double eagles have been dipped and are bright as a result. A raised die scratch on the neck of Liberty is diagnostic and should not be construed as damage; a few small grease stains on the face of Liberty are mint-made as well. Only one example of this date in AU53 has been sold at auction since late 2009 (Heritage 3/12: 4284 at $11,500) and there are auction records of over $10,000 for AU53's dating back to June 2008. An important coin for the CC double eagle specialist.

1854-D $2.50 NGC AU53

Only 1,760 examples were struck and this is the fourth rarest quarter eagle from this mint, trailing the 1856-D, 1855-D and 1840-D in that order. When available, the typical 1854-D is very poorly produced and it grades in the EF40 to AU50 range. This Choice AU example is original and very wholesome with undipped green-gold surfaces that still retain a good deal of dirt in the protected areas. There is enough luster and detail to suggest an AU55 grade and I think that this coin's conservative rating by NGC is more reflective on its originality than anything else. As always, the neck feathers on the eagle are weakly impressed but this is an impressive 1854-D with legitimately good eye appeal. The last AU53 to sell at auction was a PCGS coin (ex Heritage 5/07: 2234) that brought $13,225 back in May, 2007. Since 1998, only six 1854-D quarter eagles have crossed the auction block.

1852-C $5.00 NGC AU53

Well detailed and very richly toned with russet-gold hues that turn iridescent as they are tilted towards a light source. This coin doesn't quite have what I would describe as "leather pouch" color but the aforementioned hues are really vibrant and this is a neat-looking example of an otherwise-common date. A mark in the left obverse field can be seen with the naked eye and a small cut below AT in STATES is seen on the reverse.

1859-S $20.00 NGC AU53 CAC

A clean, original example and one of the few 1859-S double eagles that I have seen that has not been recently dipped or processed. The color on this piece is deep but it doesn't appear to be from a European source as it lacks the ultra-dirty look that such coins display. As a date, the 1859-S is hard to find in grades above AU53 to AU55 and it is very rare (and expensive) in Uncirculated.

CAC has approved two in this grade and fourteen finer and a total of nineteen. Over 1000 examples have been graded in total.