The RYK Retort: More on the 1892-CC Eagle

Editor’s note: The following reply was received by me this morning and it was written by well-known collector Robert Kanterman about the blog I published yesterday. It is unedited and, I think, an interesting insight into the mind of a sophisticated, well-focused collector. I was the lucky buyer, and I will address DW's points from the previous blog.

1. Underpriced? Perhaps a little bit, not too much — okay, I thought it was a screaming bargain! I would have been interested up to the $1200-1300 range. Maybe even $1500 if I really needed it for a date or type set.

As recently as a few months ago, the basal value of any old Liberty $10 was approaching $1000. Perhaps I am living in the past, but I still view $10 Libs as $1000 or so coins.

2. CC gold is extremely popular. More popular than ever. Just when I think that interest is starting to wane, it seems to gather more steam. Good luck trying to find me some CC $20's in OGHs.

3. I love OGHs, and I am not afraid to admit it. Graded years ago, under perhaps different standards, and untouched by human hands for 20+ years, what's not to love? Add to that the fact that many filthy gold coins from European hoards were slabbed in the OGH era (more below). I also believe that the green of the label and the gold of the coin complement one another in a way that even art enthusiasts like DW should appreciate.

A wise coin dealer friend told me earlier this year that the PCGS Reconsideration service marked the death knell of the OGH. I am not so sure. The OGH is dead. Long live the OGH!

4. DOGs (Dirty Original Gold coins) are The Bomb among serious collectors of 19th century circulated gold coin and other numismatic vagabonds. DWN has certainly educated collectors about originality, in his books, website, and in person, and made them popular, but RYK invented the "DOG" and used his big mouth (or noisy keyboard, anyway) to spread the gospel.

5. Liberty $10's are a great series, chock full of rarities and interesting dates. There are numerous logical ways to collect them that do not necessarily bust your coin budget (or require you to sell your home). There is also no question that David Hall's finest ever PCGS registry set and its well-publicized sale a few years back has raised the profile of these coins. Here's a confession — the first coin that I ever purchased from DWN was an 1849-O $10. The second coin was an 1883-CC $10. The last two were also Liberty $10's, both in OGHs. I really like Liberty $10's a lot.

And The Winner For Most Popular Coin Is....

I bought a ton of coins at the recent ANA. They ranged in price from under $1,000 to close to $100,000 and nearly all have been sold on my website in the two+ weeks since the end of the show. One coin garnered more attention than any other. It was ordered no less than eleven times (by different individuals) until I finally marked it "on hold." I would have never guessed, when I bought it, that this seemingly mundane coin would have become my Most Popular New Purchase for the 2013 ANA. And the winner for Mr. Popularity was (drumroll)......???

An 1892-CC eagle graded EF40 by PCGS (and approved by CAC) in an Old Green Label Holder.

1892-CC $10.00 PCGS EF40 CAC

Priced at a whopping $1,000, this coin connected with a wide range of people. It was ordered by two dealers and nine collectors running the gamut from beginners to seasoned vets.

What was it about this coin that made people go gaga?

I have a few theories. Let's explore them.

1. It Was Underpriced

As I mentioned in the description, by today's standards this coin grades more like AU50 to AU53 than EF40. This made it more likely to have a final value of $1,250 or so as opposed to the $1,000 it was listed for. At least eleven people spotted that this was a good deal, if not an actual bargain.

2. It Was An Affordable But Nice CC Gold Coin

If you don't have a huge budget but want to own a Carson City gold coin with a good overall appearance, you don't have a ton of choices. The typical CC double eagle now costs over $2,000 - and at the $1,000 price point any half eagle that's not dated 1891-CC tends to be kind of boring. I can't remember the last time I had an interesting CC eagle that was priced at $1,000.

3. The Lure of the OGH Is Strong...

Collectors love OGH PCGS coins and it isn't hard to understand why. The purist in me appreciates that a coin graded back in the late 1980's or early 1990's is going to look the same in another 20+ years as it does now. In other words, if PCGS had missed surface enhancement(s) on said 1892-CC eagle, the coin would have already turned in the holder. The fact that it was dark and dirty was a pretty sure sign that it was "as is" and wasn't going to turn.

4. Nice, Original Coins Are In Demand

This coin was dirty and original and coins with this sort of appearance are in demand. I'd like to think I had a little bit to do with this...

5. Liberty Head Eagles Are In Demand As Well.

As I've pointed out a number of times in the last few years, the Liberty Head eagle series has gone from mildly popular to very popular. This denomination will never be as popular as its big brother the double eagle but the number of people who dabble or specialize in this denomination has grown dramatically since 2008-2009. And an interesting Liberty Head eagle priced at a grand isn't easy to find.

I would have to guess that this perfect storm of desirability and appeal was what made this 1892-CC eagle so popular. To the collector whose email I received first and who is now the happy owner of Mr. Popularity...kudos. And to everyone else who tried and failed to buy the 1892-CC eagle...thanks and sorry. We will do another deal and soon, I hope!

1891-CC $10.00 PCGS MS63 CAC

Recently found in Europe and graded by PCGS at their Paris facility. It is not often that I purchase this date due to the fact that it is so common by the standards of Carson City eagles. But this is such a choice, high end and fresh 1891-CC eagle that I felt I had to add it to my current inventory. It is from the same little group of CC eagles that featured the 1883-CC and 1893-CC listed above and below and it merits special consideration for its dazzling frosty luster, rich natural golden-orange color and overall eye appeal. This piece is as well made as any Philadelphia or San Francisco eagle of this era with all details up and bold. The surfaces show just a few light, well-dispersed ticks and were it not for a small cluster of abrasions in the left obverse, it would receive strong consideration at the 64 level. The 1891-CC eagle is common in MS60 to MS62 but it is scarce in MS63 and rare above this. Given the fact that it is a "generic" issue in the CC eagle series, most advanced collectors are happy to have an example in MS63 in their set, especially as properly graded MS64's seem expensive at $15,000+ for a properly graded example.

1893-CC $10.00 PCGS AU55 CAC

Recently found in Europe and graded by PCGS at their Paris facility. The 1893-CC is numismatically significant as the final eagle produced at the Carson City mint. Only 14,000 were struck and it is way, way scarcer than any other of the CC eagles made during the 1890's. In fact, the 1893-CC is very rare in Uncirculated and properly graded AU55 to AU58 examples are rare. This choice piece has virtually no wear but it is slightly abraded in the fields from being transported loose in a bag. The color is very pleasing with deep green-gold highlighted by strong peripheral flashes of fiery reddish-gold; the obverse is a bit less deeply toned than the reverse. The surfaces are semi-prooflike and show no signs of having ever been brightened or "improved." Some marks in the left obverse field are all that keep this choice piece from an AU58 grade. A very nice coin and a really hard issue to find as original as this.

1883-CC $10.00 PCGS AU53

Recently found in Europe and graded by PCGS at their Paris facility. This totally original piece has attractive medium to deep orange-gold color with some deeper hues on the high spots. There is a good deal of underlying luster and the body of this coin is such that a grade of AU55 wouldn't be out of the question. There are a few scuffs in the fields on both sides with the most noticeable seen in the left obverse and the right reverse. The 1883-CC is the scarcest CC eagle produced after 1879. There were 12,000 struck and most survivors are well worn with VF-EF being typical for the date. The 1883-CC is often poorly produced with flatness at the centers and is almost never found with natural color. This example is notable for a great strike and the aforementioned natural color. In the last decade, only one PCGS AU53 has appeared at auction: Heritage 10/09: 1538 which sold for $2,760. A great value at less than $3,000!

1881-CC $10.00 PCGS AU58 CAC

A tremendously appealing "slider" example with fully original deep orange-gold and reddish color that is contrasted by some deeper hues on the relief details. This coin probably never saw circulation but it has light friction on the high spots from being transported overseas in a bag. That said, it is still more attractive than most CC eagles that I see in MS60 and MS61 holders. The 1881-CC is the most available Carson City eagle from the 1880's but it is still many times more scarce than the 1890-CC, 1891-CC and 1892-CC both in terms of overall and high grade rarity. Most of the nicer 1881-CC eagles that rare available have been found in overseas sources in the last decade or so. This date remains scarce in Uncirculated and very rare in properly graded MS62 and higher. The last PCGS AU58 to sell at auction was Heritage 1/11: 7092 which brought $3,738; the present example is far more original and far more appealing in my opinion.

1871-CC $10.00 PCGS AU55

The 1871-CC eagle is an intriguing date. It is the second most available Carson City eagle from this decade (after the 1874-CC) but, like all the early issue gold and silver from this mint (i.e., pre-1875), it circulated very extensively in the Western states and, as a result, it is exceedingly rare in high grades. I am aware of just two Uncirculated 1871-CC eagles and it is a very rare coin in properly graded AU55 to AU58. This lustrous example is the first higher grade 1871-CC that I have seen in many years that is not overly bright from a recent dipping. It shows nice medium yellow-gold color with a slight reddish-orange tint as it is tilted towards the light. The surfaces show an acceptable number of marks for the grade with a few scuffs in the fields and two small reeding marks (from contact with another coin) on Liberty's neck. I think this coin is significantly nicer than Stack's-Bowers 2011 ANA: 7730 (graded AU58 by NGC and sold for $25,875) and it is the first PCGS AU55 to be available since Heritage 2007 ANA: 1975 which sold for $19,550 in a market which was far less appreciative of high quality CC eagles than the current one. There are a few auction records of over $25,000 for PCGS AU55's in 2006. A very important coin that will, no doubt, find a home in a very important collection of Liberty Head eagles.