1848-D $2.50 PCGS VF30 CAC

I'm not certain that there's such a thing as a "Gem VF" branch mint gold coin but if there is, this example would qualify as such. It is evenly worn with very nice deep natural green-gold color that becomes iridescent at the obverse border; the reverse lettering is full of natural dirt. This piece would grade at least VF35 were it not for a small natural planchet flaw from star seven to the hair and a small dig on the rim above the tenth star. A choice, affordable Dahlonega quarter eagle that would be perfect for a collector just beginning to "get the bug" for Dahlonega gold coins.

CAC has approved this one coin in VF30 with just five finer for a total of six in all grades. From the RYK Collection.

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.

1840-D Tall D $5.00 PCGS VF30 CAC

The 1840-D half eagle is numismatically significant as the first date of this type to have the mintmark placed on the reverse. 1840 also saw a redesign of the obverse with the head placed differently in relation to the fifth and sixth stars as well as the neckline being less curved than in 1839. As a date, the 1840-D is quite scarce in all grades and it is seen far less often than any of the other dates of this decade except for the 1842-D Large Date. The present example appears undergraded and I personally think it is right on the border of the VF35/EF40 line. The surfaces are clean and problem-free with lovely deep, even green-gold color. A bit of dirt can be seen in the protected areas and the overall look is that of originality. A great coin for the new-to-the-market collector or the old-hand Dahlonega specialist who just appreciates affordable, original half eagles.

Ex Littlejohn Sale (Lot 575) where it sold for $2,070