By CoinWeek ….
On Sunday, September 6, bidding ends on GreatCollections.com for this 1898 Liberty Head $10 gold eagle graded MS-64 by PCGS and approved by CAC.
In general, with 812,130 coins having been produced, the 1898 gold eagle struck in Philadelphia isn’t the rarest issue of the series. But like most Liberty Head eagles, values jump in price once a specimen reaches near-Gem and higher grades. PCGS lists 96 coins graded MS-64, which is a relatively small sampling of the original mintage when compared to the 322 listed as MS-63. The top pop coins, however, are two pieces graded MS-66, and between 64 and 66 there are 18 coins: six in 64+, 11 in 65, and a solitary 65+.
Looking at auction records, it is clear that MS-64 is the jump grade for 1898 eagles certified by PCGS. Prices are not too dissimilar from those for examples graded MS-63, which include a recent high (Feb. 2018) of $1,560 but appear to average around $1,000. The same can more or less be said for 64+, though naturally they reach a little higher at that point. But once a coin hits 65, auction records for the last several years average a little above $5,000. And at an auction in March 2016, one of the top pop coins sold for $8,813 USD.
Recent prices realized for PCGS MS-64 1898 Liberty Head gold eagles include $1,620 (Aug. 2020), $1,800 (July 2019), $1,440 (March 2018), $1,293 (Feb. 2018), and $1,675 (Oct. 2017). The CAC-approved eye appeal and rising gold prices only add to the great value of the Liberty Head $10 eagle currently being offered.
For more auction results, you can search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.
At the time of writing, the high bid is $1,700 after five bids.
A Brief History of the Liberty Head Eagle
The $10 gold eagle was the largest denomination of coin authorized by the Mint Act of 1792, but an unfavorable silver-to-gold ratio meant that gold coins were worth more silver in Europe than in the United States; thus to Europe many gold eagles were sent. Those that remained in this country were hoarded, so few eagles were used in commerce until a weight reduction in the late 1830s removed the incentive to melt the coins.
Eagles again appeared in circulation, but the Civil War caused it and other coins to vanish from daily use, hoarded because of the uncertainty of the outcome of the conflict.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Pennsylvania minister M. R. Watkinson proposed recognizing the nation’s faith in God on U.S. coinage. Chase approved the idea, and IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the two-cent coin in 1864. The Coinage Act of 1865 authorized the use of that motto on silver and gold coins, and mint engraver James Longacre placed the motto on the reverse of the gold eagle in 1866.
Gold continued to be hoarded well into the 1870s, and the $10 eagle was supplanted by the $20 double eagle as the primary coin for international trade starting in the early 1850s. The total number of eagles minted each year for the first decade was small and not until 1879 did the combined production from all mints in any one year exceed half a million coins. For several years after 1879, eagle mintages exceeded one million coins although some dates saw mintages of less than 100,000 pieces.
A classical rendition of Liberty faces left on the obverse, her hair bundled at the back and secured with a beaded tie. Two strands of hair cascade down her neck to the back and side. The word LIBERTY stretches across a coronet resting on her head above her forehead. Thirteen six-pointed stars encircle inside a denticled rim, broken only by the date centered at the bottom.
A left-facing eagle is in the middle of the reverse, wings outstretched, with a Union shield across the breast. Three arrows are clutched in the left claw (viewer’s right) and an olive claw is held in the right claw. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA circles inside a denticled rim, broken into three parts by the tips of the eagle’s wings. A flowing banner with the words IN GOD WE TRUST appears in the space above the eagle’s head, below STATES OF. The denomination TEN D. is at the bottom, separated from the legend by a centered dot to the left and to the right.
The edge is reeded.
With Motto eagles were minted in Philadelphia (all years), San Francisco (all years except 1875, 1890, 1891, and 1904), Carson City (1870-1884, 1890-1893), New Orleans (1879-1883, 1888, 1892-1895, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1903-1904, 1906), and Denver (1906-1907). Branch mint S, CC, O, and D mintmarks are on the reverse below the eagle and above TEN D.
A Rough Guide to the Liberty Head Eagle Market
Liberty Head With Motto $10 gold eagles produced from 1866 through 1879 are generally more expensive than those from 1880 through 1907, even at lower grades. Relatively few Mint State and finer coins from this early period have been certified, with near-Gem and finer rare and expensive. Coins dated 1880 and later are relatively affordable up to grades of near-Gem, except for most Carson City and some New Orleans and San Francisco issues, which are typically priced higher. Virtually all near-Gem and Gem coins from this period are expensive, as is the 1873 Closed 3 variety.
Key dates include the rare 1870-CC, the 1875, the 1877-CC, the 1878-CC, the 1879-CC, and the 1883-O. All Proofs are expensive. Prooflike circulation strikes have been certified, as have Cameo and Deep Cameo Proof coins.