Auctions by GreatCollections – CoinWeek ….
On Sunday, July 7, bidding ends at GreatCollections Auctions for this 1874 Liberty Head $10 gold eagle, graded MS-65+ by PCGS and approved by CAC.
It is the only example of this issue that PCGS has graded at that level, with none higher at either PCGS or NGC.
This is also the first time that an 1874 gold eagle graded MS-65+ has ever been offered at auction, and as such there are no previous auction records with which to compare. But there is a history of auction results for PCGS-graded MS-65s, the most recent of which goes back 15 years. In August 2004, an MS-65 sold for $40,250 USD, with an example selling not even a year earlier in December at $29,900. Prices seem to have stayed in the $20,000-$30,000 range around the turn of the century, as specimens sold for $23,000 in February 2001 and $27,600 in November 1998.
Go back two years from that, however, and we get the record price achieved by any 1874 gold eagle: $41,800 for an uncertified Choice Mint State example sold in October 1996.
But these prices are low compared to the current estimated values in the PCGS census report. The grading service lists a value of $75,000 for an MS-65 and $90,000 for an MS-65+.
To check GreatCollections for their sales involving 1874 Liberty Head gold eagles, 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 publication, the price for this top pop 1874 Liberty Head eagle is $70,009 after 38 bids.
Background on this GreatCollections item:
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, and many gold eagles left the country. Those that remained were hoarded, so very few eagles were used in commerce until a weight reduction in the late 1830s removed the incentive to melt the coins.
The Liberty Head type, created by soon-to-be Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint Christian Gobrecht, was introduced in 1838 and was struck every year at the various branch mints through 1907 when it was replaced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Indian Head design.
At any rate, the new Liberty Head $10 eagle began to appear in circulation again, but the start of the Civil War in 1861 caused the eagle and other coins to vanish from daily use, hoarded because of the uncertainty of the outcome of the conflict. In 1864, the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was first added to federal coinage on the two-cent piece. It was placed on the reverse of the eagle starting in 1866.
Gold hoarding in general continued until well into the 1870s, and the $10 eagle had been supplanted by the $20 double eagle as the primary coin for international trade as early as the 1850s. The total number of gold eagles minted each year was small and not until 1879 did the combined production from all branch mints in any one year exceed half a million coins. Indeed, only 53,160 gold eagles were struck at Philadelphia in 1874. For several years after 1879, total eagle mintages exceeded one million coins although for many years production was often less than 100,000 pieces.
On the obverse of the 1874 Liberty Head gold eagle is a classical rendition of Liberty facing left, her hair bundled at the back and secured with a beaded tie but with two strands cascading down her neck to the back and the side. The word LIBERTY stretches across a coronet resting above her forehead. Thirteen six-pointed stars encircle just inside a denticled rim, broken only by the date centered at the bottom.
A left-facing eagle is in the center of the reverse, its wings outstretched with a Union shield across the breast. Three arrows are clutched in the eagle’s left claw, while an olive branch is held in the eagle’s right. The phrase UNITED STATES OF AMERICA circles inside a denticled rim, broken into three parts by the eagle’s wing tips. 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.