Only 3,920 business strikes were made but this date is a bit more available in circulated grades than one might expect. It is rare in the lower Uncirculated grades, very rare in MS63 and extremely rare above this. A small number of really nice 1874 quarter eagles are known (in the MS63 to MS64 range) and since these pieces have basically similar looks, I would presume that a small hoard (four to six?) existed at one time. This is amongst the finest known with lovely rich yellow-gold color overlaid with light lemon splashes. There are a few faint copper spots on the obverse and more on the reverse (below the denomination and at the right wing tip). There are no APR's for PCGS MS63's of this date since February 2001 when an inferior example brought $5,290. In the last decade, there are four PCGS MS64 APR's, ranging from a low of $8,051 to a high of $9,258. This coin is a nice combination of high grade and low mintage.
This is the sole example in this grade approved by CAC with none finer.
Block 8 variety. As a date, the 1836 is much scarcer in high grades than the 1834 but it doesn't sell for the premium it deserves. That means the savvy collector can employ a condition rarity such as this 1836 Block 8 as his type coin when filling in the Classic Head quarter eagle series. As an example of this logic, look at the NGC population which shows just fifteen in this grade and three better for the 1836 Block 8 versus thirty-six with fifty-nine better for the 1834. This is, in addition, one of the prettier MS63 Classic Head quarter eagles of any date that I've seen in some time with lovely dusky orange-gold color with subtle underpinnings of green over clean, frosty surfaces. The strike is atypical for the issue with nearly no weakness at the centers and the obverse is very close to grading MS64 on its own with a lack of the scuffs generally found on Classic Head coins of any denomination. I recently handled the similarly-graded Heritage 4/12: 6362 coin and I think the present example is more choice.
In recent years, the number of really high grade (MS63 and above) Dahlonega half eagles that have been available to collectors of this series have been minimal, to say the least. This paucity of coins means that there are many type collectors waiting for a high grade coin such for their set. This lovely 1845-D has exquisite deep green-gold color which is illuminated by rich underlying frost. The obverse has a texture that is actually a bit semi-prooflike while the reverse is more normal for the issue with swirls of deep frosty texture. The strike is very sharp for the issue and this coin has the naked-eye appearance of a Gem. There is a very faint obverse planchet impurity that begins at the rim outside of the third star and it runs into the throat area. Other than this, the surfaces are very clean. As a date, the 1845-D is among the more available half eagles from this mint but it is rare in Uncirculated with around a dozen known. The finest is a PCGS MS65 that is ex Bass II: 948 (at $57,500) and Norweb I: 817 (where it broguht an amazing $66,000 in 1987!). There are a few other really nice pieces including the Duke's Creek coin, the Milas coin and the Green Pond coin, all of which grade MS63 to MS64. The present example is undoubtedly in the Condition Census for the issue and I think it is the single best Dahlonega half eagle of any date currently available to collectors.
When I was offered this coin I thought to myself that it had been a long, long time since I'd seen an 1872 gold dollar in this grade. A quick check revealed that the last MS63 1872 gold dollar to be sold at auction was all the way back in October 1999 and that coin (ex Bass II: 181) brought $2,530. I was further sold by the fact that this is a truly nice coin for the grade with good color, clean surfaces and legitimate eye appeal. I think the PCGS population figures for this date are insanely swelled by resubmissions and the fact that no MS63's have sold at auction in thirteen years makes me feel that their population figures have to be discounted. If you are a slave to Trends, you won't but this coin but if, like me, you are intrigued by the fact that the last MS63 gold dollar sold brought $2,520 thirteen years ago....you'll buy this coin and you won't think twice!
BD-4, Rarity-4. I am not always a fan of the plus grade system that both PCGS and NGC employ but in this case I feel that this coin totally deserves some sort of special recognition as it is clearly better than the average MS63 example. The obverse and reverse show a deep, unmolested yellow-gold hue with rich frosty luster and great eye appeal. The strike is sharp and the surfaces are free of all but the smallest ticks in the obverse fields. There are a few adjustment marks on the reverse but this is the sort of early gold coin that is almost never seen any more and it seems as original an example of this type as one could hope for. The last PCGS MS64 1803/2 half eagle to sell at auction was Heritage 1/12: 4850 and this coin, which was also approved by CAC, brought a hefty $57,500. I honestly don't think you could see $25,000 worth of difference between that coin and the one offered here and, to my eyes, the current piece has as much overall eye appeal. A wonderful Bust Right half eagle for the advanced early gold collector and one of the freshest, most attractive example of this specific date that I can recall having seen.
As of June 2012, this is the only MS63+ example of this date graded by PCGS.
S.S. Republic pedigree. Small S variety. There are a number of amazing, high grade 1865-S double eagles known from two wrecks: the S.S. Brother Jonathan and the S.S. Republic. I prefer the look of the coins from the latter as the Bro Jo coins tend to have very heavily matte-like surfaces from exposure to seawater while the Republic coins have a far more original appearance. This piece is among the best looking 1865-S double eagles that I have seen with wonderful luster and just a small number of marks on the surface. A small amount of mint-made porosity near star six is what probably caused NGC to be very conservative when grading this coin but it has the naked-eye appearance of an MS64; if not a Gem. There are a total of 51 MS63's from this wreck for the date but only eleven have been graded higher which makes it a harder coin to find nice than its counterpart from the Brother Jonathan. A perfect coin for the double eagle collector who wants one choice, interesting coin from each of the major shipwrecks.
Only a handful of New Orleans eagles exist in MS63 and higher grades and the 1903-O is one of the most affordable. I used to have to pay over $3,000 to purchase a nice quality PCGS MS63 but premiums for this date have dropped in recent years and I think it is a great value in the mid-2000's. This piece has especially good color with deep, rich natural orange-gold hues atop moderately abraded, very frosty surfaces. A small spot on the reverse, located below the right talon, shows that this piece hasn't been dipped as have so many higher grade 1903-O eagles.
With very few exceptions, the New Orleans eagles from the 1890's are all but unknown in grades above MS63. The 1895-O is an interesting issue as it is common in MS60 to MS61 and only marginally scarce in MS62. But it is rare in properly graded MS63 and it remains unknown in grades above this. Unlike the 1897-O and 1899-O, it doesn't appear that any small groups were spared being shipped loose to Europe in bags and, as a result, nearly every known Uncirculated 1895-O eagle has a huge number of abrasions. The present example has remarkably clean surfaces for the issue with just a few minor areas of marks but certainly nothing like the dense marks typical to the issue. The luster is frosty and shimmering while it is overlaid with subtle pleasing light rose and orange-gold hues. The last PCGS MS63 example of this date to sell at auction was Heritage 10/11: 5052 which brought $7,188. That coin, which was approved by CAC, was very nice but it had a few more obverse marks than the present example. I am not typically a fan of condition rarity, but I feel that this is among the top four or five 1895-O eagles that I have seen and it seems like good value to me.