By Doug Winter – RareGoldcoins.com
CoinWeek Content Partner ……
I had an interesting conversation with a collector earlier this week about coin collecting strategies, a subject with widespread interest. I think it bears repeating and it deserves some discussion. After reading this, I hope you will share some of your comments/thoughts below.
The collector I spoke with is working on a multiple-mint branch mint Liberty Head type set in the gold dollar, quarter eagle, and half eagle denominations.
More specifically, he is seeking…….
- Four  Type One gold dollars (Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, and San Francisco)
- Four  Type Two gold dollars (the same four as just listed for Type One dollars)
- Three  Type Three gold dollars (Charlotte, Dahlonega, and San Francisco).
The dilemma that I speak of is this: given an average budget of around $5,000 per coin, is it advisable to buy a common date in the best affordable grade, or a scarcer date at the same price point? A quick caveat: this dilemma does not exist, of course, for certain issues like Type Two dollars as coins like the 1855-O are one-year issues with no ability to select from a variety of dates.
Using these parameters, let’s look at three specific examples. For the first, we’ll look at Charlotte quarter eagles. This collector’s $5,000 budget will buy him a nice example of a common date; say an 1847-C or an 1858-C in AU55 or perhaps even AU58 if he is lucky. If he shoots for a rarity, he can buy a coin such as a Choice VF 1843-C Small Date or a nice EF example of the 1842-C or 1855-C.
In this case, I’d go with the more common date in the higher grade. Charlotte quarter eagles are not an avidly collected series and, as a type example, an AU58 is going to have a much superior appearance to an EF40 to EF45.
What about in a more popular series like Dahlonega quarter eagles? This collector’s $5,000 budget will procure a nice AU55 to AU58 example of a common date such as an 1843-D, 1844-D,or 1857-D. A really rare D Mint quarter eagle such as an 1854-D, 1855-D, or an 1856-D is going to be far too expensive. As will a lower grade example of a “Tier Two” rarity such as an 1840-D, 1841-D, or 1842-D. But $5,000 will buy a nice AU50 to AU53 example of a scarcer date such as an 1849-D, 1850-D, or an 1851-D.
In this case, providing that the semi-key Dahlonega quarter eagle was a nice coin, I think it might make sense to go with the lower grade but significantly scarcer issue.
The third and final example uses a popular collector series: the No Motto New Orleans half eagle. There are only two dates (1844-O and 1854-O) which are semi-regularly available in AU58, and both would cost well below our collector’s $5,000 budget. Thus, I would suggest that he turn his attention to a scarcer issue such as the 1843-O Large Letters, the 1845-O, the 1846-O or the 1851-O in AU55; all of which should be buyable for around $5,000. But what if the collector gets the itch to employ a rarity within this series such as an 1842-O or an 1847-O?
Given his budget, our collector will have to shoot for an Extremely Fine representative of the 1842-O and a nice Very Fine example of the 1847-O. Given the wear either of these will show—not to mention the near-impossibility of finding a really choice 1847-O half eagle for under $5,000—I would stay clear of these two issues as type coins.
Collecting by type is a matter of preference and there ultimately is no “right” or “wrong” answer for what goes in a set. The coolest type set I ever saw used impossible grade coins like the famous Eliasberg PCGS MS69 1845-O Dime as a representative of the Stars Obverse design; clearly overkill but oh so cool…
Do you have any questions about how to assemble the best possible type set for your budget? Please feel free to ask me via email at [email protected] or call me during office hours at (214) 675-9897.
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was ten years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins has made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at 214-675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, 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
In addition he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.
If you are interested in buying or selling classic US coins or if you would like to have the world’s leading expert work with you assembling a set of coins? Contact Doug Winter at (214) 675-9897 or by email at [email protected].