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Gold Denominations, History & Investment Point of View
Throughout history gold has motivated empires; it has been the downfall and rise to power for Kings, Emperor’s and Dictators as long as man has walked the earth. It has a magical lure within its surfaces that captivates humans and draws them into another world, a world of power and beauty.
The first coins ever to be recorded on earth were gold and silver denominational coinage minted by the Lydian’s around 600 BC. The Lydian coin pictured below, called a third stater (or trite) but perhaps the largest denomination of its type and without question the most common. This coin was minted around 600 BC in Lydia, Asia Minor (current-day Turkey), a country in close proximity to both the civilizations of Mesopotamia, from which ideas about money and much else originated, and the Greek colonies in Asia Minor, through which ideas about coinage and much else spread. The techniques were quickly copied and further refined by the Greek, Persian, Macedonian, and later the Roman empires. Unlike Chinese coins which depended on base metals, these new coins were made from precious metals such as silver, bronze, and gold, which had more inherent value.
World's First Coin:
The Lydian Lion
The above coin is smaller in diameter than U.S. half dime but is thick as a pebble and weighs almost as much as a U.S. quarter. It's made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver called "white gold" in ancient times (50-60 percent gold with these coins). At the time of its minting, it may have been worth about a month's subsistence, a sizeable chunk of change. The above coin is a more refined and more attractively rendered variety of the same type minted a decade earlier. One of the many fascinating aspects of this coin is the mysterious sunburst above the lion's eye.
The Lydian’s invented a way to verify if gold was pure or not, they used a black stone that was like jasper and later became known as the touchstone. The goldsmiths would rub the gold object against a set of 24 needles containing varying amounts of the 3 metals: gold, silver, and copper. The 24th needle of course was pure gold, thus creating the system to show that 24 carats is pure gold, (carat is a word derived from the Greek word Keration.)
In modern times now coins have become their own world, a world of collecting, investing and obsession. With the instability of the stock market which has proven so throughout history, people are finding that rare certified coins are the place to diversify into, a place that is stable and proven so due to the consistency of high prices being paid and the amount of people that actually purchase coins: That fact alone shows the demand for consumers is solid, and the amount of people buying coins out number the amount of rare coins that truly exist. People who collect original art paintings, early Americana antiques, and just historic objects all around are finding Rare American Gold certified coins are as beautiful, scarce and valuable as all mentioned above.
To think of the skill it took to hand engrave the design on those little planchets is mind blowing.
The mint says at least 140 million Americans collect coins, which are up 125 million from only 2 years ago, that shows you were this is all going! Up, up and up….
In 2003 we sold for a record price the 1804 $10 Plain 4 Proof specimen in PF64 Cameo for $998,475.00. This was a coin I’ve had a few people tell me wasn’t worth seven digits. Only 2 years later, I sold this for $2+ million dollars because I believed in the coin and I knew its story and beauty. We had it on display at the Smithsonian Institution Castle in Washington D.C. and that night we were offered a $1 million dollar profit that we turned down for our client, a month later I was offered a $2 million dollar profit in which we turned down for our client. The reason being is our client loves this coin and bought it strictly for his personal museum and money will not persuade him in any way to sell it, also this coin is worth more than the 1804 Silver Dollar and I’ll tell you why: The story is the same and even more mysterious, the appearance is way more beautiful, and the rarity is by far greater being only 4 minted, and I’ve viewed 3 of them with this being the best of the best, it also upgraded to a PF65 Ultra Cameo Star designation. Another great rarity we sold was the 1838 $10 Proof Eagle in PR65, the King Farouk specimen. We sold that for a record at over $700k and two years later selling it for nearly $2 million dollars. Another treasure we just sold which is not a proof coin, but a definite rarity museum piece was a 1799 $10 Capped Bust Eagle MS64 NGC, a coin with proof like surfaces giving me the sure impression it was the first off the dies. This coin was sold at $104k, a price that to me seems super cheap for this example; this is a coin that will definitely be worth over $200k in the next couple years. Examples like these don’t come around often but when they do it seems they come off the market even faster.
The 1804 $10 Plain 4 Proof Cameo
You will see I have broken down each denomination for U.S. Gold coinage and given facts and stats showing an investment point of view for each...
Gold Dollars
In 1792 the world price per troy ounce for gold was $19.39 and most all of the coins circulating within the United States were foreign coinage, being mostly gold from Europe. 45 years later in 1837 the price was set again for gold per troy ounce at $20.67 and 12 years later in 1849 the Gold dollar denomination was created by the Act of March 3, 1849. The first type minted in 1849 lasted until 1854.
Type 1 Liberty Head 1849-1854:
Total mintage for business strikes: 12,565,543
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Type 2 Indian Princess small head 1854-1856:
Total mintage for business strikes: 1,633,426
Total mintage for proofs: 20
Type 3 Indian Princess large head: 1856-1889
Total mintage for business strikes: 5,336,074
Total mintage for proofs: 8,706

 

Investment point of view for Gold dollars:
I would have to say if I chose to invest or collect Gold dollar denominational coins it would be the Proof coins. The reason is because it just seems the smaller the coin the harder it is to sell for profit, but with the Proof coins it is like night and day when it comes to beauty, the mirrors and frostiness of the coin make it very intriguing. Also some other good facts to know are the total known certified by each company for the Proof dates, PCGS has certified only 758 coins and NGC 835 – Totaling between both 1,593 and this number is considerably lower due to re submissions, and crack outs. So in the big picture Proof Gold dollars are very scarce and as long as new collectors/investors are being educated and coming into the coin industry they will bring demand for these tiny little treasures. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest recommendation from me for investing into Proof Gold dollar I would give these a number 6.

Some stand out Proof Gold Dollar dates we’ve bought and sold:
1861 PF67 NGC - (pop 1/0 finest known) mintage of 349
1874 PR65 PCGS - (pop 1/0 finest known) mintage of only 20 coins!
1878 Type 3 PF65 Ultra Cameo NGC - (pop 1/3) mintage of only 20 coins!
 
Quarter Eagles
Quarter eagles were authorized after the coin act of April 2, 1792. The $2.5 Quarter eagle had 7 different designs the first bearing the date 1796 having the unique looking Turban head, (or Capped bust to right) and the last dated 1929 being the Indian head design (1908-1929).
Capped Bust to right (Turban Head) 1796-1807
Total mintage for business strikes: 19,460
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Capped Bust to left, 1808-1834
Total mintage for business strikes: 44,775
Total mintage for proofs: 80
Classic head 1834-1839
Total mintage for business strikes: 968,228
Total mintage for proofs: 50
Coronet type (Liberty) 1840-1907
Total mintage for business strikes: 11,905,771
Total mintage for proofs: 4447
Indian Head 1908-1929
Total mintage for business strikes: 7,250,261
Total mintage for proofs: 1,827

 

Investment point of view for Quarter Eagles:
Quarter eagles are definitely an interesting series of coins to study; the history goes back all the way to 1700’s making it a true classic coin. Investing in these coins is very well worth it when you are able to find the early business strike coins (being anything dated pre 1834, these are super rare in any grade.) The early Proof specimens are terrific (if you can find them.) For instance, PCGS has graded only 14 Proof coins (from 1821-1834) and NGC 6 – That’s only 20 coins total – In MS64 and higher PCGS has graded only 63 coins and NGC 75 totaling only 138 coins designated MS64 and higher for 1796-1834, these are excellent investment pieces with huge upside potential. So if I were to collect/invest Quarter Eagles it would be 1796-1834 MS64 and higher business strike coins, and or Poof specimens dated 1821-1839 for the scarcity factor. The Liberty series are absolutely beautiful coins in Proof and there are definitely some scarce dates also – On the scale of 1-10 I would give Quarter Eagles a 7 when buying the right pieces.

Some stand out Quarter Eagle dates we’ve bought and sold:
1796 “stars” AU58 NGC – Mintage of 1,368
1833 PR66 PCGS – Mintage of only 10 (POP 1/0 which is the only one certified by PCGS and there is only 1 graded by NGC also)
1837 PR66DCAM PCGS – Mintage of only 10 (the only one certified by PCGS or NGC)
1848 PR64 PCGS – Mintage of only 5 – Only two exist with one in the Smithsonian
1877 PF67 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 120 (POP 2/0 only 11 certified between both PCGS and NGC)
1882 PF68 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 67 (pop 2/0)
1891 PR65 PCGS – Mintage of 80 (POP 8/1)
1899 PF67 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 150 (POP 9/6)
1899 PR68 PCGS – Mintage of 105 (POP 1/0)
1913 Matte PF67 NGC – Mintage of 165 (9/2)
 
Three Dollars
On February 21, 1853 the Act was authorized to start the minting of the Three dollar gold pieces. This coin never was very famous among the public after the first coin was struck in 1854. The $3 gold piece was sometimes called the “rich mans three-cent piece”. It was originally used to purchase sheets of 100 postage stamps at a time. From 1854 through 1889 (when postage rates rose) the $3 Gold piece was struck.
Three Dollar Indian Princess 1854-1889
Total mintage for business strikes: 539,882
Total mintage for proofs: 2,058

 

Investment point of view for Three Dollar Gold:
A wonderful and wise series to accumulate for investing, a very tough area to find also and complete, so just to own a few gorgeous examples is all you really need when doing a Gold collection proof or unc. The average price you can expect to pay for a Gem (MS65) business strike piece is between $30k - $45k, under MS65 in UNC condition you can look to pay between $8,000 and $15,000 depending on eye appeal and grading service. For Proofs, you will be paying quite a bit more in gem condition you won’t touch a nice example under $40k. This is a series of certain upward potential, and one of my favorites for its uniqueness. We handled the greatest Proof $3 date there is which is 1875 in 2003, this was a PF64 Cameo example where we sold it for $92,500, this past year we resold it for $135k, and I see in the American Numismatic Rarities, LLC “New York Connoisseur’s Collection March 14-15 2006 the same example brought over $200,000.00. Investors might think to themselves, “Has the market peaked”? My answer is, no it has not. The reason is because there are more and more investors coming into this everyday and the amount of “rare coins” out there does not match the number of buyers which is way more so in return the prices are going to sky rocket I see over the next couple years before it flattens out at all. On the scale I give $3 gold the big number 8!

Some stand out Three Dollar gold dates we’ve bought and sold:
1874 PR65 PCGS – Mintage of only 20 PCGS pop of 4/0
1875 PF64 Cameo NGC Mintage of only 20 also Proof only date – NGC pop 3/1
1879 PR65 PCGS – Mintage of 30 pop 1/0
1881 PF67 Ultra Cameo NGC – POP 1/0 Mintage of 60?
1884 PR67 DCAM PCGS - Mintage of 106 pop 2/0
1889 PR66 PCGS - Mintage of 129 pop 3/0
 
Four Dollars
John A. Kasson who was America’s minister to Austria at the time was the man who proposed the idea to start the minting of the $4 gold denominations with the main reasoning for European’s to use which would be so much easier because of the Metric system. As it turned out Congress became interested and so Chief Engraver (at the time) Charles E. Barber started the preparations for the obverse and reverse of what would be the “Flowing Hair design” Stella pattern piece. The coiled hair design was created by George Morgan, and altogether there were 4 four varieties made, 1879 Coiled (being the rarest and most valued with a mintage of only 10) and Flowing hair (Flowing hair being the most common of the 4 being between 300-400 known survivors), 1880 Coiled (also scarce with only a mintage of 10) and the Flowing with a mintage of only 15.
Four Dollar Stella 1879-1880
Total mintage for business strikes: 0
Total mintage for proofs: 460

 

Investment point of view for Four Dollar Gold:
It seems these are always a good buy if you can find them. The 1879 Flowing Hair seems to be on the open market quite a bit and any given time, but also that has an upside with little risk if any. Being Patterns they are collected / invested with the respect of regular issues. Their beauty is truly unmatched (for smaller denominations) when gazing upon an ultra cameo, the star on the reverse (which is why it was named Stella) gives it the uniqueness that is above all others I feel. When buying these coins in PR62-65 I feel you have the upside to sleep good at night knowing you made a wise investment. Buying higher grades in these coins (Flowing Hair) you will have to hold onto longer unless you know of someone putting together the finest known and high graded Proof Pattern pieces. On the scale I give these treasures an 8 because of the rarity, and beauty.

Some stand out Four dollar gold Stella dates we’ve bought and sold:
1879 Coiled Hair PF67 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 10 4/0
 
Half Eagles
This was the first gold denomination to be minted and the year was 1795 starting with Turban Head series with the reverse of a Plain Eagle (or small Eagle) lasting only 3 years with a tiny mintage of 18,512 for all years combined which is smallest of all 9 verities. Although the Turban Head small eagle was not supposed to be used on the 1798 issues, some do exits because of being struck with leftover dies from the previous types, these are very rare. The man responsible for the design was Robert Scot. Half Eagles were struck every year through 1929 except 1801 due to all the gold deposits delivered to the mint being used for the minting of Eagles ($10).
Turban Head, Plain Eagle Rev. Half Eagle 1795-1798
Total mintage for business strikes: 18,512
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Turban Head, Heraldic Eagle Rev. Half Eagle 1795-1807
Total mintage for business strikes: 18,512
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Capped Bust, Lg. Head Half Eagle 1807-1812
Total mintage for business strikes: 399,013
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Capped Bust, Small Head Half Eagle 1813-1829
Total mintage for business strikes: 717,409
Total mintage for proofs: 5
Capped Bust, Small Head reduced diameter Half Eagle 1829-1834
Total mintage for business strikes: 668,203
Total mintage for proofs: 24
Classic Head Half Eagle 1834-1838
Total mintage for business strikes: 2,113,612
Total mintage for proofs: 50
Liberty, “no motto” Half Eagle 1839-1866
Total mintage for business strikes: 9,114,049
Total mintage for proofs: 408
Liberty, “motto” Half Eagle 1866-1908
Total mintage for business strikes: 51,503,654
Total mintage for proofs: 2,938
Indian Head Half Eagle 1908-1929
Total mintage for business strikes: 14,078,066
Total mintage for proofs: 1,077

 

Investment point of view for Half Eagle Gold:
We’re getting to be bigger in size and that always helps it seems! Half Eagles when buying (if you can find one) in early dates can never be a bad choice, there just are not a lot of them out there and they are all good investments. In MS60-MS61 for dates between 1795-1807 you have to be ready to spend anywhere between $20k-$100k – That should tell you enough. On the scale I give early business strike Half Eagles an 8 – Proof Gold Half Eagles I give an 8 also.

Some stand out Half Eagle dates we’ve bought and sold:
1795 “small eagle” MS61 NGC – Mintage of 8,707
1836 Classic Head PF67 NGC – 3 known
1863 Liberty "no motto" PR64 PCGS – Mintage of 30
1863 Liberty “no motto” PR65DCAM PCGS – Mintage of 30
1867 PF65 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 50 - POP 1/0 finest known
1874 PR65 PCGS – Mintage of 20 – POP 1/0 finest known
1882 PR65 PCGS – Mintage of 48 – POP 2/0
1887 PR64 PCGS – Proof only date mintage of 87
1895 PF66 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 81 – POP 1/0 finest known
 
Eagles
The Eagle denomination was the primary piece for all gold to standardize after, that is why they called it the Eagle and making all other Gold denominations stem from that (Half Eagle, Quarter Eagle, Double Eagle) – Congress actually established the U.S. Coinage system on August 8, 1786 (9 years prior to the minting of the Eagle) and decided the Eagle would be the largest denomination (holding 246.268 grains of pure gold). The idea dragged on along with the minting of the Half Eagle and obviously no coins were minted for 9 more years. Up until 1849 the Eagle was the largest of the “gold” denominations to exist, where at that time of course the Double Eagle ($20) appeared. In 1795 they were issued and the first delivery of 400 coins because of the story that was passed down of how George Washington wanted the minting of Eagles to take place before his term was over, hence the director of the mint Henry DeSaussure was supposed to have handed President Washington 100 specimens with some being Proof Like showing they were presentation pieces. Eagle’s first appearance was actually short lived being minted from the years 1795-1804 whereas that time Silver Dollars and Gold Eagles were halted until 1838.
Turban Head, Plain Eagle Rev. Eagle 1795-1797
Total mintage for business strikes: 13,344
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Turban Head, Heraldic Eagle Rev. Half Eagle 1797-1804
Total mintage for business strikes: 119,248
Total mintage for proofs: 4
Liberty Head, No motto large letters on reverse 1838-1839
Total mintage for business strikes: 33,001
Total mintage for proofs: 10
Liberty Head, No motto small letters on reverse 1838-1866
Total mintage for business strikes: 5,259,498
Total mintage for proofs: 369
Liberty Head, motto 1866-1907
Total mintage for business strikes: 37,391,767
Total mintage for proofs: 2,327
Indian Head, Wire Edge 1907
Total mintage for business strikes: 470
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Indian Head, Rolled Edge 1907
Total mintage for business strikes: 50
Total mintage for proofs: Unknown
Indian Head, No motto 1907-1908
Total mintage for business strikes: 483,448
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Indian Head with motto 1908-1933
Total mintage for business strikes: 14,385,139
Total mintage for proofs: 768

 

Investment point of view for Eagle Gold:
You can’t go wrong going into the coin hobby with the idea that Eagles are the best. All $10 pieces as long as they are graded correctly and have fabulous eye appeal are good buys, the early years up through Liberty’s are definitely investment pieces, Indians also are great investment pieces, but the crowd buying those are a lot less broad. Proof Eagles are simply blowing everyone’s mind with what prices are brining now, and it should be that way considering the rarities for these treasures. We’ve basically made the market for Proof Gold single handed, and for Eagles, we’ve set record prices and stabilized the market for confidence. We have the collectors to prove so, there are more people than you would think that are buying what they can when it comes to Proof Eagle’s. Proof 64’s (cameo and deep cameo) that were buyable between $60-70k are now at the $90-100k+ mark – Higher grades and rarer dates have jumped in just the last quarter over 60% - Why and how? Easy, there are not enough to go around, you have to view these as rare paintings and American historic art/antiquities.
For our creditably on Proof Eagles, we’ve handled the best of the best 2 times – The 1804 plain four, a coin I originally sold for $1,000,000 and sold again 3 years later for over $2 million – This coin is worth a lot more then this now also considering the 1804 Silver dollar (finest known) sold for over $4 million – A coin that is not nearly as beautiful or as rare!
On the scale for Eagles, Proof and business strike (early dated) I give these the big 10.

Some stand out Eagle dates we’ve bought and sold:
1799 Capped Bust MS64 NGC – 760 known this was Proof like!
1801 Turban Head MS62 NGC – Mintage of 44,344
1804 PF65* Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 4
1838 Liberty PR65 PCGS – Mintage of 4
1846 Liberty PF64 Cameo – Estimated at 5 minted
1863 Liberty PR64DCAM PCGS – Mintage of 30
1867 Liberty PR64DCAM PCGS – Mintage of 50
1880 Liberty PF66 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 36
1881 Liberty P66 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 40
1882 Liberty PR65CAM PCGS – Mintage of 40
1891 Liberty PR65DCAM PCGS – Mintage of 48
1897 Liberty PR64DCAM PCGS – Mintage of 69
1900 Liberty PR65 PCGS – Mintage of 120
 
Double Eagles
Originally in the mint act of 1792 $20 pieces (double eagles) were not even considered due to the small amount of gold deposits our Government had, and the fact that twenty dollars was more than one weeks wage for most workers in America at the time. All of that changed in 1848 when our nation found the discovery of massive Gold deposits in California along the American river in what was called the race of Sutter’s mill because of that event we were able to convert almost immediately all the gold into money. And so by the act of Congress on March 3, 1849 the “double eagle” was issued. A coin with a historic significance that would stand the test of time showing beauty, holding stories of mysteries and myth with lies of rarity bringing in Organized Crime into the picture in the late 20th century. This is a denomination of true uniqueness, true beauty and passion for collectors of all breed. And to say a piece of Proof Gold that is of the Liberty series is not beautiful is to say a true lie, for it is the most breathtaking piece in existence.
Liberty, No motto 1849-1866
Total mintage for business strikes: 23,526,677
Total mintage for proofs: 345
Liberty, motto 1866-1907
Total mintage for business strikes: 80,298,235
Total mintage for proofs: 2,761
Saint-Gaudens, High Relief 1907
Total mintage for business strikes: 12,867
Total mintage for proofs: between 40-50 for all (Ultra, and regular)
Saint-Gaudens, Arabic numerals, no motto 1907-1908
Total mintage for business strikes: 5,296,968
Total mintage for proofs: 0
Saint-Gaudens, Arabic numerals, motto 1908-1933
Total mintage for business strikes: 64,981,428
Total mintage for proofs: 687

Investment point of view for Double Eagle Gold:
To put together a full date, or mintmark set of Double eagles is nearly impossible due to the scarcity of certain dates. You can collect these by variety over some time though, buying examples of no motto Liberty’s, motto Liberty’s, a High Relief, and no motto specimen, then a motto specimen. Coming into this with an investors/collectors mentality, the way to go is Proof Double Eagles, and the reason is simple “beauty, and rarity!” There is by far no chance of getting hurt when buying the correct piece of Proof Gold that is a double eagle; as long as it is true to the grade given and the eye appeal is spectacular you will be able to sleep at night knowing you did well. Over the years we have handled some truly amazing pieces, from an Ultra High Relief to a handful of SUPER rare Liberty proofs. Anyone that has come back to sell these we have no problems making profits for the client, and on the scale I definitely give this true American treasure a fat 10!

Some stand out Double Eagle dates we’ve bought and sold:
1865 Liberty PF66 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 25
1869 Liberty PR66 PCGS – Mintage of 25
1878 Liberty PF64 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 20
1878 Liberty PR64DCAM PCGS – Mintage of 20
1881 Liberty PF66 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 61
1882 Liberty PF64 Ultra Cameo NGC – Mintage of 59
1885 Liberty PF67 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 77
1897 Liberty PF65 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 86
1899 Liberty PF65 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 84
1901 PF66 Cameo NGC – Mintage of 96
1907 St. Gaudens Ultra High Relief PR68 PCGS – (8 known certified by PCGS)
 
For more information e-mail Dean Albanese