HomeUS CoinsCharlotte Gold Coins - A Beginner's Guide

Charlotte Gold Coins – A Beginner’s Guide

By Doug WinterRareGoldCoins.com ……
 

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The Charlotte Mint
The Charlotte Mint

 

The Charlotte Mint opened in 1838. A gold rush had begun around 1830 when ore was discovered in western North Carolina (as well as northern Georgia). With it being virtually impossible to transport the gold to Philadelphia for assaying and eventual coining, it was decided to place mint facilitiess in more convenient southern locations. This is why Charlotte (plus Dahlonega, Georgia, and New Orleans) was selected.

The mint was in operation from 1838 through 1861, when it was closed after North Carolina seceded from the Union along with other slave-holding states. It produced gold dollars from 1849 through 1859, quarter eagles from 1838 through 1860, and half eagles from 1838 through 1861.

There are pros and cons for choosing Charlotte gold as a primary collecting focus.

The pros–which clearly outnumber the cons–are that these coins are more affordable than comparable issues from Dahlonega due to being less popular. They are typically available in a reasonably well preserved state and, with one exception (see below), they are comparatively affordable. Most importantly, there are a significant number of design types, which makes collecting by type an approachable way to focus on Charlotte issues.

The cons are that these coins are not found with the overall quality usually seen on 20th-century issues, and that as few as 10% of the existing coins show natural color and unmolested surfaces. And while I stated that they are comparatively affordable, you should not consider collecting Charlotte gold unless you can realistically spend at least $5,000+ as an average cost basis for each of the major types.

Let’s now take a look at each of the major types along with some basic analysis and collecting suggestions.

Charlotte Gold Dollar Coins

There are three different types of gold dollars from Charlotte.

The first (Type One) was struck from 1849 through 1853. Ironically, this type contains two of the rarest individual issues ever made at this facility: the 1849-C Open Wreath, of which just four or five are known; and the 1851-C, of which there are as many as 750-850 known in total.

1851-C $1.00 PCGS AU58 CAC
1851-C $1.00 PCGS AU58 CAC

The 1851-C is the ideal issue to use as a type coin to represent this design as it well made, and a nice AU example can be had for less than $5,000 as of the end of 2023.

I would suggest using one of the other four dates as an alternative type issue. Each is significantly scarcer than the 1851-C, but will cost just a few thousand dollars more in nice AU or around the same amount in Choice Extremely Fine.

Type One dollars from Charlotte often show planchet issues, but they are still better made than the other two types of gold dollars from this mint.

The second type is the so-called Type Two, which was made for just one year: 1855.

EXAMPLES OF THE 1855-C REVERSE, ALL IN AU
EXAMPLES OF THE 1855-C REVERSE, ALL IN AU

The 1855-C featured a design that proved very difficult to strike properly, and so most of the pieces from Charlotte show weakness as well as mint-made planchet faults. It is hard to find a piece with good eye appeal, but such coins do exist in the $6,500 to $8,500 range. For a high-end AU coin, you will be spending in the $10,000 to $12,500+ range.

1859-C $1.00 PCGS AU55 CAC
1859-C $1.00 PCGS AU55 CAC

The final design was made only in 1857 and 1859, and these are known as Type Three coins. The mint had even more difficulty making these two issues than they did the 1855-C and as a result, all Type Three gold dollars from Charlotte are seen with poor details and inferior quality planchets. The 1859-C is better suited as a type coin, and a decent AU can be purchased as of the end of 2023 for around $5,000 to $7,000.

SUMMARY: Three types of Charlotte gold dollars exist and as a trio, the collectors should be able to obtain them all for around $16,500 to $20,500. This is figuring the Type One and Type Three as nice AU coins, and the 1855-C as an EF40 to AU50.

Charlotte Quarter Eagles

There are two different types of quarter eagles from Charlotte.

The first employs the short-lived Classic Head design which was used from 1834 through 1839. It is seen on two issues from Charlotte: the 1838 and the 1839. It is distinctive as the only quarter eagle from Charlotte with the C mintmark placed on the obverse.

1838-C $2.50 PCGS AU58 CAC
1838-C $2.50 PCGS AU58 CAC

The 1838-C is the scarcer of the two with a much lower mintage than its 1839-C counterpart. It receives extra demand from collectors due to its first-year-of-issue status. The 1838-C is more available than generally believed in lower grades, but it becomes scarce around AU55 and is quite rare in MS60 and finer. An AU will run between $15,000 and $35,000+ depending on its quality and appearance.

The second type of quarter eagle was produced (with interruptions) between 1840 and 1860. This features the familiar Liberty Head design with the mintmark now placed on the reverse. This is a challenging set to complete by date, but none of the 20 issues is impossibly rare, and only two or three are likely to cost more than $10,000 in About Uncirculated. With a budget of around $150,000 to $200,000, an impressive set could be completed; such a project would likely take around three to five years.

1843-C LARGE DATE $2.50 PCGS AU58 CAC
1843-C LARGE DATE $2.50 PCGS AU58 CAC

For the type collector seeking a single nice Liberty Head quarter eagle, the best dates to focus on include the 1843-C Large Date, the 1847-C, the 1848-C, the 1850-C, and the 1858-C. Any of these five that become available can be had for around $5,000-6,000+ for a solid AU coin.

1840-C $2.50 PCGS AU55+ CAC
1840-C $2.50 PCGS AU55+ CAC

If a scarcer date type coin is sought, the best dates to search for include the 1840-C, 1851-C, 1852-C, 1854-C, 1856-C, or the 1860-C. Any of these six which come available can be had for around $7,000-8,000 for a solid AU coin.

Even the most common date Charlotte quarter eagles are legitimately scarce to rare in MS60 and higher grades. The most available single date in higher grades is the 1847-C with around 20-25 known; it is closely followed by the 1858-C. However, both issues are rare in properly graded MS62 and very rare in MS63 and finer.

1858-C $2.50 PCGS MS63+ CAC
1858-C $2.50 PCGS MS63+ CAC

If you can locate one, expect to pay at least $12,500-15,000 for a nice Uncirculated common date quarter eagle from Charlotte.

SUMMARY: Only two varieties of quarter eagle were made by the Charlotte Mint. You could purchase nice EF examples of this duo for an estimated $12,500 to $15,000+, but you could spend considerably more if you upped the grade of both issues to MS62 or finer.

Charlotte Half Eagles

There are four types of half eagle made by the Charlotte Mint.

The first type is the 1838-C, which is doubly desirable as the first-year-of-issue for this denomination/mint, as well as being the only use of the Classic Head design, which on this denomination was changed in 1839; on the quarter eagles it continued to 1840.

1838-C $5.00 PCGS AU50
1838-C $5.00 PCGS AU50

The 1838-C half eagle is considered one of the marquee issues from Charlotte. It is in strong demand, and well made, problem-free coins graded EF45 to AU53 are scarce, while Choice AUs are rare. Only two or three Uncirculated examples exist. You’ll have to pay around $20,000 for marginal AU, and double this for nice AU55 with natural color.

1839-C $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC
1839-C $5.00 PCGS AU55 CAC

The 1839-C half eagle is also a one-year type. It features the original version of the Liberty Head design as well as the mintmark on the obverse. It is more available than the 1838-C, but it, too, has popularity that extends beyond Charlotte gold specialists. Nice EF coins have become challenging to locate while AU examples with natural color are rare. A small number of Uncirculated 1839-C half eagles exist, but few are offered for sale. You’ll likely have to spend at least $12,500 to $15,000 or more to acquire a presentable example.

In 1840, the Liberty Head was slightly redesigned while the mintmark was moved to the reverse. All Charlotte half eagles struck from 1840 through the 1842-C Small Date have a Small Letters reverse. Later in 1842, a new Large Date punch was used for the obverse while the reverse is a new type with Large Letters.

1842-C SMALL DATE $5.00 PCGS EF40 CAC
1842-C SMALL DATE $5.00 PCGS EF40 CAC

For a Small Letters type coin, all three issues (1840-C, 1841-C, and 1842-C Small Date and Letters) are available, with the 1842-C Small Date being by far the scarcest. I would suggest an 1840-C as this is numismatically significant as a first—year-of-type issue. An Extremely Fine will cost around $5,000 to $6,000, with a nice AU priced at around twice this range.

The Large Letters reverse was first used with the 1842-C Large Date variety, and it continued through 1861.

1849-C $5.00 PCGS AU58 CAC
1849-C $5.00 PCGS AU58 CAC

The more obtainable dates of his type include the 1847-C, the 1849-C, the 1850-C, the 1852-C, the 1853-C, the 1857-C, and the 1858-C. Any of these should be reasonably easy to locate in EF at around $4,000 to $5,000, and in AU for $6,000 to $8,000.

My advice if you are buying just one of these for type is that you be patient and selective, as a nice coin should be much more available for a half eagle than for a comparable quarter eagle from Charlotte.

Collecting this denomination by date is popular due to the fact that none of the 24 issues is very rare or very expensive. The key issues are the 1838-C, the 1839-C, the 1842-C Small Date, the 1846-C, and the 1861-C.

A very solid Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated set of half eagles from Charlotte could be assembled in a three-to-five-year period for around $250,000 to $300,000.

1857-C $5.00 PCGS MS62+
1857-C $5.00 PCGS MS62+

Charlotte half eagles in Uncirculated are more available than their quarter eagle counterparts. The most available dates are the 1847-C, the 1850-C, the 1853-C, the 1857-C, and the 1858-C. All half eagles from this mint become rare in MS62, very rare in MS63, and exceedingly rare in MS64 or finer.

The following table lists all nine types of Charlotte gold coins:

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Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins

 

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Doug Winter
Doug Winterhttps://www.raregoldcoins.com
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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