Silver and Gold Glitter: Better Dates Yield Solid Returns

Posted on 2/24/2011

In this report, we find significant activity brewing for silver cartwheels from the Old West. Carson City Liberty Seated Dollars with Motto (1866–1873) — popular, rare and always in demand — are observed muscling up in...

In this report, we find significant activity brewing for silver cartwheels from the Old West. Carson City Liberty Seated Dollars with Motto (1866–1873) — popular, rare and always in demand — are observed muscling up in Good 4 through Fine 12. Those famed 1870-CC to 1872-CC installments are led by the 1871-CC, which advanced nearly 6% in the past month and registered a 30% escalation within the past year.

Collector-favorite Trade Dollars (1873–1885) are peppered with positive traction in Good 4 to VG 8, the latter reported at $134. Leading the way with double-digit gains over the past year are the 1873 to 1876 Carson City issues in grades from XF 40 through AU 58. At the top was the 1875-CC in AU 58, which at $1,380 is nearly 25% higher than last February.

Riding on the coattails of silver’s magnificent run, Peace Dollars racked up some significant gains, not only in the circulated columns, but also in grades MS 65 through MS 67. Interest in the series has elevated in recent years as collectors and investors have taken a closer look at this perhaps-still-underrated, short-lived series. Buoyed by the fact that there are no real stoppers in circulated grades, this set can be completed by many enthusiasts. Although relatively common in circulated grades, the 1927-D Peace Dollar is a conditional rarity in MS 65 and better. The tough-to-find MS 66 examples of this issue are now valued at $30,310 — up nearly 8% since last month. A popular key date in all grades, the 1928 is also showing strength in MS 66; $21,880 this installment, also up nearly 8% in the last month. The scarce and popular 1934-S is also on the move in MS 66 (only 15 examples certified in that grade by NGC) and now brandishes a $23,130 price tag.

Gold coins are always in great demand, and whether in the hands of collectors, speculators or investors, the yellow metal has and always will be coveted. Fueled by international turmoil, gold is again approaching the lofty $1,400 level. Although heavy trading remains, mainly targeted at Double Eagles and Eagles, high-end circulated and lower Mint State Gold Dollars have been quiet performers. The diminutive Gold Dollars exhibited solid action this report. While several Mint State Type I (1849–1854) Philadelphia issues showed modest advances, we note that the $650 price guide level for the common MS 61 examples is an increase of nearly 92% since February 2010! The scarce Dahlonega Gold Dollars are also on the move, as evidenced by the noteworthy advances targeting the 1855 Dahlonega (Type II 1854–1856) issue. High-grade circulated coins in the AU 50 through AU 55 category are entertaining solid advances. In fact, the AU 55 coin has shown a more than 12.5% gain in the last year now sitting at $28,130. This enigmatic southern issue has always been popular and collectors seem to be attracted to “relatively” affordable Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated coins. Currently, the NGC Census shows only 39 representatives in all grades, the majority of which (33 coins) reside in the XF 40 to AU 58 category. Of the miniscule original mintage of 1,811, it is estimated that fewer than 80 coins remain in all grades. Always a collector favorite, the finest-known NGC example, an MS 64, realized $149,500 in the February 2007 Pre-Long Beach Goldberg sale.

The common-date Type III Gold Dollars (1856–1889) also boast rather amazing advances in MS 61; each date exhibits an approximate 60% gain in market value since February 2010. Consider this: in the MS 61 column, there are currently 9,664 examples graded as such for the entire series. This represents the four decades spanning 1849 to 1889, encompassing the Type I, Type II and Type III varieties. In comparison, the common 1904 $20 Liberty Head (Type III 1877–1907) has nearly two and a half times the combined population of the aforementioned Gold Dollars, registering 23,990 specimens in MS 61. Although perceived by many as a good value, especially considering that the premiums over melt have tightened considerably, these coins are currently trading at $1,750 — down 10% since December of 2010.

The popular $5 Indian Head coins (1908–1929) have sparked considerable interest in MS 60 and MS 61 grades; the common dates are now trading at $600 and $720, respectively. There has been a considerable wave of advances across the entire series in MS 64 and better grades. Leading by a considerable margin is the somewhat unheralded 1914; those graded MS 66 have advanced more than 52% since February of last year and are now valued at $70,880. The desirable 1929 issue, minted at the dawn of the Great Depression, has long been considered the stopper by the many advanced collectors who desire one for their cabinet. Well-struck high-end coins graded MS 64 and MS 65 are climbing, the latter trading about 10% higher than last month at $72,230. Although no action is visible for MS 65 type in this report, it is wise to remember that only 552 representatives for the entire series have been graded as such. These seem a bit undervalued, especially when one considers the actual rarity of the Indian Head Half Eagle in this grade. The high mintage 1909-D reports a paltry 79 examples in Gem and with the value unchanged at $16,200, these coins may be a bit of the sleeper at that level.

Jim Bisognani has written extensively on US coin market trends and values and was the market analyst and writer for a major pricing guide for many years. He currently resides in Southern California and frequently attends major coin shows and auctions.

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