So...You've Decided to Collect Charlotte Gold Coinage...

So...You've Decided to Collect Charlotte Gold Coinage...

This feels like a great point in time to specialize in Charlotte gold. There is not as much competition at the very top end of the market as there is for Dahlonega and New Orleans gold. This means that a collector wishing to focus on finest known or Condition Census issues is not necessarily biting off more than he can chew.

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Why Does the 1861-C Half Eagle Get No Love?

Why Does the 1861-C Half Eagle Get No Love?

I recently sold a nice PCGS/CAC AU55 1861-C half eagle and it made me think: why is the 1861-C less than one-third the price of the 1861-D in higher grades and why doesn’t the 1861-C have more of a fuss made over it?

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How To Collect Charlotte Gold Coins

There are many ways to collect Charlotte gold. Some people have only a mild interest in these coins and may buy just one or two pieces. Other people are more serious and they have a large number of Charlotte issues in their collection. A small number of Charlotte collectors are obsessives who focus exclusively on these pieces and do not collect anything else. I would like to make some suggestions on how to collect Charlotte gold. In my experience, all of these ideas have merit and none is “better” than the other. It depends on the tastes and budget of an individual collector to determine which one(s) is right for him. I. THE INTRODUCTIORY THREE COIN SET

The most basic way to collect Charlotte gold is to purchase a single example of the gold dollar, quarter eagle and half eagle denominations. This is a very good way to collect for the individual who has a limited budget or who is not certain how deep his interest lies in Charlotte gold.

A basic three coin set of Charlotte gold should consist of nice, problem-free pieces. It would make sense to focus on the more common dates although some collectors might prefer to include some scarcer issues. The grade range for these coins is likely to fall in the Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated-58 range.

The 1851-C is the most logical choice for the gold dollar in this set as it is the most common and affordable date. A pleasing Extremely Fine can be obtained for $1,500 or so. About Uncirculated pieces range from $1,750 to $3,500 depending on quality.

The optimum quarter eagle for this set is the 1847-C as it is the most common date of this denomination from Charlotte by a large margin. A nice Extremely Fine example costs around $2,000 while About Uncirculated coins range from $2,500 to $4,000. It is possible to upgrade to a much scarcer date without paying a substantial premium. As an example, the 1843-C Large Date sells for around the same price in Extremely Fine as does the 1847-C but it is much harder to locate.

In About Uncirculated, the 1847-C used to be much less expensive than all other Charlotte quarter eagles but the price spread has diminished in the last few years. This, in my opinion, makes dates such as the 1843-C Large Date, 1848-C and 1858-C very interesting alternatives, especially in the lower range of the About Uncirculated grades.

There are many dates in the half eagle series that would work well in this type set. These include the 1849-C, 1852-C, 1853-C and 1858-C. Any of these can be purchased in nice Extremely Fine for around $2,500 while About Uncirculated coins are priced in the $3,000-6,000 range.

An alternative to the standard three coin set would be to purchase the same date for all three denominations. This is feasible for issues dated 1849-C, 1850-C, 1851-C and 1852-C. A set from 1855 could also be assembled but the gold dollar and the quarter eagle from this year are quite expensive in higher grades.


A type set of Charlotte gold coins includes one example of each major type struck at this mint. Such a set includes the following:

  • Type One gold dollar (1849-1853)
  • Type Two gold dollar (1855 only)
  • Type Three gold dollar (1857 and 1859)
  • Classic Head quarter eagle (1838-39)
  • Liberty Head quarter eagle (1840-1860)
  • Classic Head half eagle (1838 only)
  • Liberty Head, obverse mintmark half eagle (1839 only)
  • Liberty Head, reverse mintmark half eagle (1840-1861)

A total of eight types were struck at the Charlotte mint. This includes three that were struck only in one year. A complete eight piece type set is an excellent display item. The various designs used in striking these coins provide a graphic illustration of the artistic and historic record of the Charlotte mint.

Most collectors who assemble an eight piece Charlotte type set do so in grades ranging from Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated-58. This set could be completed in Uncirculated but it would be very difficult to do given the rarity of the 1838-C Classic Head half eagle in Mint State.

The coins that are included in a Charlotte type set are generally the more common dates. Some collectors use better dates in order to make their sets more interesting and potentially more valuable. I would strongly recommend that the collector include at least a few better dates.

A nicely matched Extremely Fine set should cost approximately $25,000-30,000. The most expensive coins in the set are the 1838-C half eagle, the 1839-C half eagle and the 1855-C gold dollar.

A set that consists of all eight coins in About Uncirculated-50 to About Uncirculated-58 can be assembled for approximately $50,000-100,000+. The cost could be significantly reduced if the Type Two gold dollar and the 1838-C and 1839-C half eagles were nice Extremely Fine coins as opposed to About Uncirculated-50 or better.


Each of the three denominations struck at the Charlotte mint are popular with collectors. For various reasons, some of which will be discussed below, some collectors feel an affinity towards a specific denomination.

Collectors generally love or hate the gold dollar. The small size of this coin (13 or 15mm. depending on the type) sharply divides the collecting community. Some collectors find it hard to fathom paying thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a coin that is the size of an average adult’s thumbnail. Another negative factor about Charlotte gold dollars is the crudeness with which they were struck. If you are not a specialist it may be tough to “get” a coin that is this crude.

The reasons that cause some people to dislike gold dollars are the same reasons that other people like them. Their crudeness has an odd allure and their small size gives them a distinct charm.

Collectors also like gold dollars because of their low mintage figures. With the exception of the 1851-C, each issue from Charlotte has an original mintage figure of 14,000 or less. Four of the eight have mintages lower than 10,000.

On a coin by coin basis the Charlotte gold dollar series is relatively affordable. A set of eight coins in Extremely Fine should be completable for approximately $20,000. Every Charlotte gold dollar can be found in About Uncirculated grades without great difficulty. The only obstacles to completing a set in this range are available funds and the level of fussiness that a collector brings to the set. Figure on spending $35,000-40,000+ for a mid-range About Uncirculated set and double this amount for a very high end About Uncirculated set.

A complete set in Uncirculated could be assembled but it would be difficult due to the rarity of the 1855-C and 1857-C. Assuming that these two issues are available, a complete set in Mint State-60 to Mint State-63 could be assembled for $100,000-150,000+.

The Charlotte quarter eagles are the most challenging of the three denominations. Assembling a set of these requires patience and dedication. Many are very rare in higher grades. Others have peculiarities of strike that make it hard to find pieces with good eye appeal. The rarest Charlotte quarter eagles are the 1842-C, 1843-C Small Date, 1846-C and 1855-C. These are hard to find in all grades and rare in properly graded About Uncirculated.

There are a total of twenty issues in the Charlotte quarter eagle set. This includes two varieties from 1843: the Small Date and the Large Date. No quarter eagles were produced at this mint in 1845, 1853, 1857 and 1859.

It is a realistic goal to complete this set in Extremely Fine grades. The cost of such a set would be in the area of $55,000-65,000. In About Uncirculated this set is still realistically completable but assembling an attractive, well-matched set requires time and patience. It is not unrealistic to set aside a budget of as much as $250,000 for a world-class About Uncirculated set for choice, high end coins with original surfaces. Completing a set of Charlotte quarter eagles in Uncirculated is possible but exceptionally difficult. There are a number of issues such as the 1839-C, 1842-C, 1848-C, 1849-C and 1856-C that have extremely few truly Mint State pieces known to exist.

A complete set of Charlotte half eagles consists of twenty-four coins. This includes two varieties struck in 1842 (the Small Date and the Large Date) and none in 1845.

The half eagles are the most popular denomination from this mint. One of the reasons for this has to do with the relatively large size of these coins. Another has to do with the fact that every issue except for one (the rare 1842-C Small Date) is reasonably easy to obtain in the higher circulated grades.

A set of nice Extremely Fine Charlotte half eagles should cost in the neighborhood of $100,000-125,000 with a good chunk of this set aside for the 1842-C Small Date. A complete set in About Uncirculated is challenging but less difficult than for the quarter eagles. A set of well-matched, original Charlotte half eagles in About Uncirculated would require a budget of approximately $200,000-250,000+. Completing a set in Uncirculated is very difficult but not impossible. The stoppers in this set include the 1838-C, 1840-C, 1842-C Small Date, 1846-C and 1854-C.


Some collectors get hooked on Charlotte gold and decide to assemble a complete set. A complete set of Charlotte gold is generally understood to contain the following:

  • Gold Dollars: A total of nine issues struck between 1849 and 1859. One of these, the 1849-C Open Wreath, is excessively rare with just four or five known to exist. Because of its rarity, it is not included in most sets but it is still regarded as an important member of the Charlotte series.
  • Quarter Eagles: A total of twenty issues produced between 1838 and 1860.
  • Half Eagles: A total of twenty-four issues struck between 1838 and 1861.

The final cost of assembling a complete set of Charlotte coinage (minus the excessively rare 1849-C Open Wreath gold dollar) is within the reach of many collectors. A set that focuses on nice Extremely Fine coins would cost approximately $200,000. A set that consists of nice About Uncirculated coins would cost anywhere from $600,000 up to $800,000+.

Due to new discoveries and relaxed grading standards it is now possible for a collector to assemble a complete set of Charlotte coins in Uncirculated grades.

To the best of my knowledge, no collector has assembled a totally complete set of Charlotte gold in Uncirculated. I know of at least two or three collectors who have assembled the complete set (including the extremely rare 1849-C Open Wreath gold dollar) but none of these have contained Uncirculated examples of this variety.

The finest collections ever assembled of Charlotte coins include the Stanley Elrod collection (sold privately in 1994 and now, unfortunately, split into numerous parts), the Paul Dingler collection (which included the only known complete set of Mint State Charlotte quarter eagles and half eagles; it was purchased by Heritage Coin Galleries and myself a few years ago) and the William Miller collection (sold by Heritage at auction in 1999).

Charlotte Half Eagle Rarity

As I’ve been working on the updated third edition of my Charlotte book, I’ve had the chance to make some interesting observations regarding the rarity of Charlotte half eagles. The overall rarity of most Charlotte half eagles has changed. In nearly every instance, this has meant an increase in the total number known for a specific issue. As an example, I estimated in the second edition that 70-80 examples of the 1840-C half eagle existed. My revised estimate, in the third edition, is 80-100.

The increased populations are a result of a number of factors. After nearly twenty years of grading Charlotte coins, the PCGS and NGC populations represent significantly large percentages of the known total for every specific issue. So, these population figures carry more weight with me than they did ten years ago (and, yes, I have figured regrades/resubmissions prominently as a factor of total populations from both services).

I believe that my second edition estimates were also a bit on the low side when it comes to lower grade coins. While I knew of nearly every high grade 1840-C half eagle that exists (now or when the last edition was written) I tended to underestimate the low grade coins. My new estimates try to take into account these pieces.

There are changes in the population estimates for EF and AU half eagles because, let’s face it, the EF45 of ten years ago is, in most cases, an AU50 (or higher) today. I’ve tried to factor in gradeflation into my estimates and I tend to discount some of the slabbed AU50 or MS60/61 coins as, in my opinion, they do not meet my personal grading standards.

One thing my updated research has reinforced is that really choice Charlotte half eagles (MS63 and better) remain genuinely rare. While many of the coins listed in the Condition Census of my second book have changed owners and, in many cases, holders, they remain coins with pedigrees that I am able to trace back to the 1990’s or earlier. I’ve also noticed that the grading services have done a good job (most of the time) at holding the line on higher grading Charlotte half eagles. While a few MS63’s have become MS64’s or MS64’s have become MS65’s, many of the coins that were grading MS64 or MS65 back in the mid-to-late 1990’s have remained consistently graded.

The Bass sales, held from 1999 to 2001, had a huge impact on the third edition of the book. Many of the coins that I speculated about in the first two editions but were unaware of their location/grades were in the Bass collection. They now appear in the third edition; complete with accurate pedigrees and current grades.

What are a few other things that I have learned about Charlotte half eagles that will be reflected in the new third edition of the book?

* I’ve learned that some of the die variety information for issues such as the 1849-C, 1850-C, 1853-C and 1854-C was wrong and it has been corrected.

* I’ve learned the value of good pictures and the crappy old black and white images that appeared in the first two editions will be replaced by useful color plates.

* I’ve learned that people generally liked the format and design of my second edition of the New Orleans gold book that I published last year and so this format will be adapted to the upcoming Charlotte book.

* Finally, I’ve learned that Charlotte coinage for me is like the numismatic equivalent of “home cooking” and when I’m feeling cranky or burned-out, nothing is more numismatically soothing than a dose of Charlotte half eagles.

What Will It Take To Jumpstart The Charlotte Gold Market?

In the last few months I’ve been asked a similar question by at least three collectors: what will it take to jump start the Charlotte gold market? This is an excellent question and I’d like to raise a few points that I think will explain what possible scenarios could affect these coins and the impact that they might have. Before delving into these specific points, I think a little background is in order. Charlotte gold coinage has been in a price and popularity slump for the last five or so years. I attribute this to the following reasons:

There are a lot of really low quality coins in PCGS and NGC holders on the market. When one sells for a low price at auction it tends to drag down the nice examples of this issue along with it.

My book on Charlotte gold coins is out of date and scarce. An updated third edition should be ready by the spring of 2008.

A few of the larger marketing firms who traditionally have sold Charlotte coins (both high end and low end pieces) have shifted their focus to other areas of the rare date gold market.

There haven’t been any really interesting collections of Charlotte coins that have come onto the market for a number of years. Often times, when a neat, fresh collection is offered for sale at auction, this generates new collector interest.

Many of the long-time specialists in this field have completed their sets and are not currently in the process of upgrading. This fact, combined with a relative lack of new collectors, has caused the supply of Charlotte coins to outstrip the demand.

I do not mean to give the impression that the Charlotte market is totally dead because it isn’t. I have personally had a good amount of success selling Charlotte coinage in the past few years but I have become extremely selective with what I buy. I will only purchase choice and original coins and I am probably less willing to make a slight allowance for “off quality” as I am in a more popular area such as Dahlonega gold or New Orleans double eagles. I know for a fact that there are a number of collectors working on VF-EF date sets in all three denominations and I have had a relatively easy time selling any very high quality (MS63 or better) pieces I find which have great color and eye appeal and/or which have a great pedigree.

Now, for some answers.

There is absolutely no question that the Charlotte market is not being helped by the existence of some really piggy coins in holders. I think this problem will be helped by the CAC stickering of nice coins which will generate new interest by collectors and dealers alike. New collectors will be helped by the fact that they can determine which coins are believed to be nice for the grade.

From my experience, a new (or updated) book on any subject generates a lot of interest. I can’t imagine that an improved and easily available Charlotte book won’t get a few new collectors interested. It will probably also motivate a few marketing firms to start selling Charlotte coins as they will have a guide to send collectors and to assist their sales force in making presentations.

The combination of CAC stickers, a new book and available product would certainly be good motivation for said marketing firms to sell Charlotte coins again. This might help remove some of the lower end and very high end pieces from the market which will leave the middle to upper middle end coins for collectors. When the Charlotte market was at its healthiest stage in the 1990’s, strong interest was seen not only in the collecting segment of the market but in the mass marketing segment as well.

In their January 2008 FUN sale, Heritage is going to sell a wonderful, fresh group of Charlotte coins called the Carolina Circle collection. This will be one of the first really important groups of Charlotte coins to be offered at auction since the incomparable run of collections sold at auction between 1995 and 2002 (Pittman, Bass, North Georgia, Miller, etc) and I would not be surprised if this creates a few new collectors.

The economics of any market are very simple. If the demand exceeds the supply, prices go up. Prices for nice EF40 and EF45 Charlotte coins have doubled in the past five or so years because there is a strong collector demand for these. Prices for overgraded, unattractive AU55 and AU58 coins have actually dropped (in some cases considerably) in the past five years because collectors do not want them and demand is—rightfully—very low for said items.

Personally, I think the sweet spot of the Charlotte market right now is nice AU55 and AU58 coins. These are, in most cases, very scarce but premiums are much lower than in the past. As an example, around five years a common date Charlotte half eagle in EF was worth around $800-1,000 while a common date in AU55 was worth $3,000-4,000 (or approximately 4x the price of an EF). Today, the EF is worth around $2,000-2,500 while the AU55 is still worth $3,000-4,000 (or approximately 1.5-2x the price of an EF).

The Availability of Original Southern Branch Mint Gold Coins - Part One

Need to get the rest of the article from Mary. In a recent blog (July 30, 2007) I discussed my criteria for what constitutes "originality." Using this criteria, how available are Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans gold coins? In the first of what may be a multi-part series of articles, I’m going to look at C, D and O mint gold dollars and discuss their availability with original surfaces and color.

The Charlotte Gold Market, 1987-1997: A Decade Brings Radical Changes

In 1987, my book "Charlotte Mint Gold Coins: 1838-1861, A Numismatic History and Analysis" was published by Bowers and Merena Galleries. In the ensuing decade, the changes in the Charlotte market have been so radical that I have been compelled to rewrite and totally update this book. In preparing my new book on Charlotte gold coins (to be published in 1998 by DWN Publishing), I have been amazed at the breadth of the changes which have characterized this market in the past decade. My first book on Charlotte has become so out-of-date that when people inquire as to its availability, I tell them not to buy it and to wait for the revision.

As I have been researching the various Charlotte issues, I have made some interesting observations. The following areas represent, in my opinion, the biggest changes which have pervaded the Charlotte market (many of these changes can also be applied to the "rare date gold" market as a whole).

I. The Advent of Certified Grading

The population and Condition Census data in the 1987 edition of my book was based on research done in the mid-1980's. This was before the creation of PCGS and NGC. Needless to say, the changes brought about by these two services have had profound effects--both good and bad--on the Charlotte market and on numismatics as a whole. Some of the changes are obvious. After ten years of grading Charlotte coins, enough pieces have been seen by the services to create a useful population and grade distribution database. Everyone knows that the numbers in the PCGS Population Report and the NGC Census Report are skewed due to resubmissions, crossovers, etc. However, this data is far more advanced than anything available in 1987. For the first time, it is possible to get meaningful comparative rarity data. As an example, the population reports are best used in determining how rare an 1840-C half eagle in Extremely Fine-45 is relative to an 1850-C half eagle in the same grade. In 1987, this data was far more speculative and open to interpretation. Today, the collector can easily find out if the information he is being told about a specific coin or date is accurate.

II. An Increase in the Population of High Grade Coins

For a variety of reasons, the number of important high grade Charlotte gold coins has dramatically increased in the past decade. Some of the reasons for this include the following: rising prices have brought new coins into the market, many old collections have been sold and some previously unknown hoards or accumulations have quietly entered the market. Population "explosions" for a few dates are readily noticeable. One example of this is the 1838-C quarter eagle. When the 1987 edition of my book was released, I estimated that only three to four were known in Mint State. In the 1998 edition, my estimate of Mint State examples has been revised upwards to seven or eight coins. In 1987, I estimated the number of Mint State 1844-C half eagles to be two or three; today, I can account for five separate pieces. These numbers may not sound significant when compared to very common coins but in a narrow, tightly traded field such as Charlotte gold, these increases are dramatic.

III. An Increase in Prices

Many series of coins have seen dramatic downward movement in prices when viewed as a whole from 1987 to 1997. Collector-based series such as Charlotte gold, on the other hand, have seen very solid increases. The following chart takes the most common dates in all three denominations from this mint and compares the 1987Redbook prices with those in the 1997 edition of this book.

EF-40 AU-50 MS-60 EF-40 AU-50 MS-60
1851-C $1.00 500 825 2,000 700 1000 2,500
1847-C $2.50 450 900 2,500 900 1,900 5,750
1847-C $5.00 750 1,000 3,000 1200 3,000 10,000

As this chart shows, the prices for even the most common Charlotte coins rose considerably in the past decade. Many coins doubled in price and one, the 1847-C half eagle in MS-60, tripled. These prices are even more dramatic when one examines the levels for rarer dates or for extremely high grade coins (i.e., Mint State-62 and above). Simply put, high grade examples of Charlotte gold have proven to be an excellent investment during a coin market which has seen a lot more downswings in price than upward movement (at least since 1990).

IV. A Change In Grading Standards

The most important thing to remember about grading is that, despite claims to the contrary, it remains highly subjective. It is hard enough to get a group of experts to agree on Mint State common date Morgan Dollar grades; let alone complex issues such as Charlotte coins. In the late 1980's/early 1990's, PCGS and NGC began grading significant amount of Charlotte gold coins. For the most part, the grading standards of that era tended to be very conservative. Today, standards have relaxed considerably. In my opinion, the EF-45 of the late 1980's is an AU-50 (or even an AU-53) today. And the AU-55 of the late 1980's is an MS-60 (or even an MS-61) today. The primary effect of this is to provide an unrealistic picture of availability for certain issues. As an example, as of September, 1997, PCGS had graded 41 1849-C half eagles in the various About Uncirculated grades. In the forthcoming revision of my Charlotte book, I estimate that the total number of 1849-C half eagles known to exist in all AU grades is 35-37. It is my opinion that many of the 17 coins graded AU-50 by PCGS (as well as some of the 10 coins graded AU-53 by this service) are coins which would have graded Extremely Fine a decade ago.

V. The Fall and Decline of "Crust"

I am a fan of original surfaces on gold coins. To my eyes, there is nothing more attractive than a Charlotte piece with layers of old "crust." (I define "crust" as original toning over a heavy layer of natural "skin" on a coin's surface which develops over the course of time). To me, originality provides great eye appeal. Unfortunately, the two grading services have unwittingly contributed to the destruction of a great number of gold coins by penalizing them for originality. It is my experience that if you submit a "crusty," original AU-50 coin, it is invariably graded EF-45. But, if you take the same coin, scrub off the crust and make it bright, it will grade AU-50 to AU-55. Ironically, the financial incentive for submitters is to destroy their coins in order to maximize their value. This is especially true in a market such as Charlotte gold where the difference between an EF-45 and an AU-50 can be thousands of dollars. As time passes, I think the number of truly original Charlotte coins will continue to shrink. The few remaining coins with original surfaces will invariably trade for strong premiums among knowledgeable buyers and unwitting new collectors and investors will get stuck with the overgraded, unnaturally bright dregs.

VI. A Shift in the Supply and Demand of Charlotte Gold

One of the major reasons why common coins have dropped significantly in price in the 1990's is the fact that more and more come onto the market while fewer collectors, investors and dealers are around to absorb them. Charlotte gold coins are one of the few series where the supply/demand ratio has been such that enough new collectors have come into the market to absorb the coins which have come onto the market. A typical "common date" Charlotte half eagle has a surviving population of 150-200 pieces. At least half of these coins are in very low grades and, therefore, are of little interest to collectors. Another large group are either in museums or tightly-held private collections and are off the market. Suddenly, an original population of 150-200 may now have shrunk to twenty or fewer coins which are of the quality which an advanced collector will find acceptable. If there are 50-100 serious collectors of Charlotte gold (and my guess is that the actual number is greater than this), than there exists a demand for coins which is two to five times greater than the actual supply. The result is that prices for Charlotte gold coins have risen and should continue to do so as fewer and fewer coins are chased by more and more collectors.

VII. Many Major Collections are Sold and ManyNew Players Enter the Market

In the decade from 1987 to 1997, many of the finest collections of Charlotte gold coins ever assembled have been sold. Important collections sold at auction include Norweb (Bowers and Merena, 1987-1988), Willard Blaisdell (Stack's, 3/90), Billy Fuller (Heritage, 7/93) Reed Hawn (Stack's, 10/93), James Stack (Stack's, 10/94), R.T. Wilder (Stack's, 11/94) Ed Milas (Stack's, 5/95 and Stack's/RARCOA/Akers, 11/95) and the forthcoming Pittman sale (Akers, 10/97). In addition, the Stanley Elrod collection, which is recognized by experts as the final complete set of Charlotte coins ever assembled, was sold intact and then broken-up and sold individually from 1995 to 1997. Coins from these sales now dominate the revised Condition Census listings for Charlotte gold coins and this will be reflected in my forthcoming book.

At the same time, there has been a change of leadership in the Charlotte market; both from the standpoint of the sellers and the buyers. Of the ten leading dealers in Charlotte gold in the current market, at least half of them were not active in 1987 and others, such as myself, have only recently had the financial resources available to compete in the higher end market. Of the ten leading collectors of Charlotte gold in 1987, at least half of them are either deceased or no longer active. Many of the most significant buyers had never seen a Charlotte gold coin in 1987, not to mention the fact that they were unable or unwilling to spend serious money on their current passion a decade ago.

VIII. Summary

Collectors of Charlotte gold who have been active since the mid-1980's are, no doubt, marvelling at the tremendous changes that they have seen in the past decade. The number of high grade rare coins which have been made available to them, especially in the 1990's, has been nothing short of incredible. As one collector recently said to me, half-jokingly, "it's like they reopened the Charlotte Mint for a few years and decided to give us a second chance at the really nice, rare pieces we needed for our collections. Conversely, the prices which these same collectors now have to pay for choice pieces makes the prices of 1987 seem very, very reasonable. In 1987, the collector of average means could afford to put together a nice Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated set. Today, this set is out of the price range of the lower budget collector.

Nearly all of the major collections which have been formed since 1987 have been built around slabbed coins. Unless a Charlotte coin is from an old-time collection and is being sold at auction, the chances are good that it if it is unslabbed, it has a problem.

In my opinion, the future for collector-oriented series such as Charlotte gold coins looks very bright. Assuming that my new book creates even a moderate number of serious new collectors, the supply/demand ratio will become even more skewed. If three or four major players decide to assemble high grade sets of Charlotte gold in the next two or three years, the supply will noticeably dwindle. This will lead to further price increases and, perhaps, even more radical market changes than the ones discussed above.