USA Coin Album: Little Known Gold Coin Varieties

Posted on 5/10/2022

Eagles are rich in varieties, most of which went unnoticed until the past 20 years.

This time out, it’s the gold Eagle in the spotlight. No, I don’t mean the modern bullion coins — instead our subject is the Eagle series struck for general circulation from 1795 through 1933. These coins are the ones least often collected by date and mint among the various traditional gold series, yet they are rich in varieties, most of which went unnoticed until the past 20 years.

All US coins struck during the mid-late 1840s are fertile hunting grounds for varieties. It seems that the die sinkers had some trouble placing dates and mintmarks exactly where desired and at the right depth in a single blow of the mallet. Thus, numerous repunched date (RPD) and repunched mintmark (RPM) varieties, as do many misplaced dates (MPD) for the Coronet Eagle type. These latter varieties are called “blundered dates” in older books and catalogs. Most went undetected until recently, and many are still being discovered today.

NGC attributes three varieties for the 1845-O Eagle under its VarietyPlus® service, and all are RPDs. Amazingly, none of these have been added to The Cherrypickers’ Guide as yet, but the new edition of Volume II, which includes gold eagles, will be published soon and may feature some new entries for this denomination.

1845-O $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

1845-O $10 VP-003
Click images to enlarge

The Philadelphia Mint’s very high production of Eagles in 1849 required a great many dies, and the result was a rich opportunity for die-punching varieties. Among these are three attributed by NGC, only two of which Walter Breen described in his massive 1988 encyclopedia. Both feature complete repunchings of the date and are quite similar to one another, but careful examination reveals slightly different positions of both the original and repunched dates.

1849 $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

1849 $10 VP-002
Click images to enlarge

Misplaced date (MPD) varieties began to appear in the 1850s, and they are evident on dies made during the next several decades. They ceased to occur only when the US Mint began applying complete dates to its master dies for each year beginning in 1907 for new coin types and in 1909 for existing ones. One obverse die for the 1854-S Eagle reveals the base of one or possibly two numerals 1 centered below the 18 of the date and just above the denticles. A very similar variety is seen on some 1856 Philadelphia Mint Eagles, too. Both were first cataloged by NGC and are good candidates for The Cherrypickers’ Guide.

1854-S $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

1856(P) $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

One of the most interesting varieties in the Coronet Eagle series is the 1865-S with its date punched over an inverted date. Similar varieties are known for 1844 and 1851 cents, as well as 1858 half dimes. This one is particularly bold, but the scarcity of 1865-S Eagles makes it less appealing to general variety collectors.

1865-S $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

One of the best RPM varieties of this coin type is found on certain 1889-S Eagles. The S mintmark clearly was repunched south and slightly east of its first impression. Since this is a fairly common date/mint entry in the Coronet Eagle series there are abundant opportunities to cherrypick a specimen and buy it at the cost of a generic coin.

1889-S $10 FS-501
Click images to enlarge

Nice RPD varieties have been identified for 1892(P) and 1901-S, the first being an NGC attribution not found in Breen’s encyclopedia. Several less obvious examples for other dates/mints are attributed by NGC, and these may be found on VarietyPlus®.

1892(P) $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

1901-S $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

The Indian Head Eagle series offers fewer variety selections, since the date for this type was sculpted into the original model and then altered through hand engraving for each subsequent year’s master die. Thus, there are no variations of the date within any given year. The mintmarks, however, continued to be hand punched, and therein lies the opportunity to find varieties. The 1909-S Eagle, for example, offers two different RPMs, while 1910-S and 1916-S each have a single RPM.

1909-S $10 VP-001
Click images to enlarge

1909-S $10 VP-002
Click images to enlarge

Next month this series will conclude with a look at the varieties found on Double Eagles.

David W. Lange's column, “USA Coin Album,” appears monthly in The Numismatist, the official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.