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Budget Collecting: A Classic US Gold Coin Series That’s Within Reach

Indian $2.50 Gold Coin

Even collectors on a budget can attain this goal


By Jim Bisognani – NGC Weekly Market Report ……
Well, it’s finally here. Spring, that is. I don’t want to jinx it, but the season does appear to be changing here in New England, and boy am I excited for the transition. The numismatic market is also showing signs of renewal and seems to be stepping up the activity level, as well.

One market-maker pointed to the metals as a catalyst, yet surprisingly he was not referring to gold or silver (although both have been trending up thus far in 2019). The well-known pundit exclaimed: “Palladium is hotter than the proverbial pistol and hitting the afterburners.” True: This enigmatic strategic/investment metal has closed-in on the $1,600-per-ounce level as I type away at this article.

To put it in perspective, when the wildly popular 2018 Proof Palladium Eagle went live on the United States Mint’s website on September 6, 2018, the spot price of palladium was around $980 USD (which was about $215 below gold spot at that time), and the issue price for the coin was $1,387.50.

Now, six months later, gold is trading slightly over $1,300 per ounce and palladium is quoted at $1,602 per ounce, which equates to a 63% escalation! According to this source: “With the intense movement of palladium, there has been renewed demand for the 2018 Proof Palladium Eagles, as well as for the 2017 Mint State coins.”

Golden Opportunities

Another prominent dealer from Southern California said he has witnessed an increase for MS 63 through MS 65 Gold Type, with the emphasis on Eagles and Double Eagles.

“These are great values, with gold trading in the $1,300+ area. One firm is offering raw AU Saints at 2.25% over melt. This is truly outrageous, and for collectors wanting to get on board, this is truly a remarkable opportunity. With the current gold spot, that pegs them at $1,294 per coin!”

This source went on to say: “I also find great value in smaller gold denominations, such as the Indian Head $2.50. NGC MS 63 coins are being offered as low as $395 per coin!”

I agree that this is a great value, especially for the many collectors realizing they are effectively shut out in their quest to own a complete classic US Gold Series on a budget. In reality, even a well-funded, serious numismatist really has no chance to ever hope to complete a Mint State $20 Saints or $10 Indians set. However, the Indian Head Quarter Eagles of 1908-1929 do present a plausible path.

1911-D MS64+While the key date 1911-D will set the collector back around $4,000 in AU, the remainder of the other 14 coins that comprise the set can generally be bought in MS 62 to MS 63 in the $300 to $400 range per coin. Personally, I can’t think of a more attractive collection and proud numismatic investment.

Even more exciting is that it is truly conceivable for the collector of average means to complete the series. The 15 coins that comprise the set could be put together for under $14,000 if you were to acquire an MS 60-“ish” 1911-D to go with a nice MS 62 to MS 63 grade to complete the remainder of the set. If you were to opt for a nice AU 50-55 1911-D with the reminder in MS 63 range, this could be accomplished for under $10K, certainly within the sights and purse strings of many hobbyists.

While the big brother $5 Indian Head Gold has always been my favorite US gold coin, the $2.50 Indians are also high on my list. The truly American design rendering by Bela Lyon Pratt is so exciting aesthetically. The proud Indian Chief on the obverse and the glorious Bald Eagle dominating the reverse has always been very appealing to me.

A Dedication

Thinking of proud birds, I can’t help but digress and envision my cat Toby, as he would nestle in on a patch of sun on the back of the sofa and watch assorted wildlife through our windows. I’m not being presumptuous: While many often tout the accomplishments or unsung virtues of offspring and other relations, that same high esteem and praise can be lavished upon our beloved pets.

Most people have or had their unique favorites. This was and will forever be the case for my dear friend and co-pilot Toby, my tuxedo cat that passed on March 8. You see, Toby has been an integral part of my time with NGC. My little companion had been by my side for every installment of the Weekly Market Report beginning back in February 2011 through my previous article posted on March 8: That amounts to 209 articles!

Toby was by my side, calming at times, as well as giving me quiet inspiration. While residing in California and through our journey back to New Hampshire in early 2012, my dear friend was always seated on a chair next to mine in my home office. Much more than a cat, he was more human than any creature on this planet. He knew when it was time to sit down and start researching and writing. I would glance over and tell him we finished another one. Yes, he knew what that meant. For those of you who understand this precious bond, it will never be the same without him next to me.

This one is for you, little boy.

Toby - image courtesy Jim Bisognani, NGC

Until next time, happy collecting!

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Jim Bisognani is an NGC Price Guide Analyst having previously served for many years as an analyst and writer for another major price guide. He has written extensively on US coin market trends and values.

Jim Bisognani
Jim Bisognani
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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  1. Another striking (pun intended) aspect of Pratt’s famous designs is that unlike all other circulating US coinage, their images are incuse rather than relief.


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