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HomeUS Coins1876 Liberty Head Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1876 Liberty Head Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1876 Liberty Head Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1876 Liberty Head Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..

The need for $10 gold eagles was low on the East Coast, so the Philadelphia Mint struck only 687 1876 Liberty Head eagles – a paltry sum, to be sure, but by no means the lowest mintage of the series (that honor goes to the 1875). Of the three issues of Liberty Head eagles in 1876, the Philadelphia is roughly as rare as the 1876-CC, which is surprising given that the Carson City Mint struck 4,696 coins this year. The San Francisco Mint produced 5,000 pieces at its West Coast facility. Clearly, all three mints’ gold coin attention was being paid to the double eagle at this time.

Today, estimates of the total population of survivors range from 30 to 50, with only two examples earning Mint State grades from the third-party grading services. One is an NGC MS61PL, and the other is a PCGS MS60. CAC has approved no coin finer than AU58, and there is a grouping of nine coins at this level (assuming no duplication).

Die line present under LI. Diagnostic of a business strike. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
Die line present under LI. Diagnostic of a business strike. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

Authentic examples show die lines below the LI of LIBERTY.

A maximum of 50 survive. (PCGS MS60 finest, population 1; NGC MS61PL, population 1). Two [claimed by Cpt. Haseltine in 1909 Unique] die varieties/patterns in gold. Diadem central between stars.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS60 (1, 4/2024), NGC MS61PL (1, 4/2024), and CAC AU58 (1:0 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

  • PCGS AU58 #39547531: As PCGS AU58 #35096515. Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2020, Lot 4472 – $37,200. As PCGS AU58 #39547531. “The PNW Collection of Liberty Gold Eagles,”  GreatCollections, March 12, 2023, Lot 1298840 – View. A cluster of hits between stars 11 and 12. Long diagonal scratch along the profile of Liberty’s nose and forehead. Intersecting scratches to the left of the bust truncation.
  • NGC AU58 CAC #429850-007: “The Admiral Collection,” Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2018, Lot 4298 – $33,600. Gouge on Liberty’s throat. There is a diagonal mark to the right of the gap between stars 3 and 4—circular stains to the right of star 1, above 76, and the right of 6.
  • PCGS AU58 CAC #30822873: As NGC AU55 CAC #313041-009. “Donald E. Bentley Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 24, 2014, Lot 5774 – $41,125. As PCGS AU58 CAC #30822873. Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2015, Lot 4341 – $70,500. Upgraded one grade. Only AU58 with CAC when offered; Legend Rare Coin Auctions, September 3, 2015, Lot 322 – $61,687.50; Heritage Auctions, June 9, 2016, Lot 4817 – $52,875. Three hits to the left of 1. Three ticks to the left of the neck. Long scratch running slightly diagonal across bust truncation. Wedge-shaped scratch from the corner of the mouth. There is a deep scratch to the left of Liberty’s nose. Dark spotting along TEN D. and the interpunct on the reverse. Light staining at the F of OF to the eagle’s wing.
  • PCGS AU58 #21676950: “Donald E. Bently Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2014, Lot 5495 – $70,500; Heritage Auctions, August 15, 2023, Lot 3235 – $39,600. Circular hit to the left of 1. There is a cluster of small ticks to the right of the space between stars 4 and 5. Diagonal cut to the left of star 11. There is a cluster of hits in the right obverse field. There is a tiny tick to the left of the tip of the coronet—three ticks above the eagle’s head.
  • NGC AU58: Stack’s, March 23, 2009, Lot 6016 – $25,300. There is a deep diagonal scratch just below the left bust truncation and a diagonal scratch just behind the hair bun. Multiple obverse rim hits at 6 o’clock. 
  • NGC AU58 #429181-018: As PCGS AU55 #5664334. Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2002, Lot 6882 – $12,075. As NGC AU58 #429181-018. “The Steve Glenn Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 28, 2006, Lot 3979 – $27,600. Red coloration at the denticles to star 1. There is a series of horizontal scrapes in the left field. Copper spot at the bottom tip of star 11. Copper spot above LI. There is a deep cut below the eagle’s extending right wing.
  • NGC AU58 #693939-006: American Numismatic Rarities, July 25, 2003, Lot 749 – $17,250; Heritage Auctions, August 20, 2004, Lot 7470 – $20,125. To horizontal scratches on Liberty’s neck. Two ticks to the left of Liberty’s ear. Two ticks under Liberty’s eye. There are copper discoloration spots on the tip of the eagle’s right wing (viewer’s left) and between the branches’ leaves.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1876
Denomination: Ten Dollars (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 687
Alloy: .900 gold, .100 copper
Weight: 16.718 g
Diameter: 27.00 mm
Thickness: 2.00 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Quality: Uncirculated


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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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