By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
In the February 1965 issue of Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, Philadelphia coin dealer Gerald Zaid offered beautiful four-coin Saint-Gaudens-era gold type sets in Capitol holders for $129.95. Adjusted for inflation, this set would cost the equivalent of $1,228 in 2022 money. This was still quite a bit of cash, as almost everything else offered in his two-page ad carried a price somewhere between $1.75 for a type Brilliant Unc. Morgan dollar and $31.95 for a 1952 PDS set in a plastic holder.
I look back at my Army days and my frequent visits to an Arizona coin shop in the early 2000s, a place I would go whenever I had a few (and I mean a few) extra dollars. The shop, the name of which I cannot remember, and the dealer, whose name I never knew (my wife and I called him the “coin guy”) played a big part in my return to my childhood hobby. As a child, I had the opportunity to collect hand-me-down coins, mostly of the junk variety. As a young adult, I had moved up to silver 50 State Quarter Proof Sets (they were the rage) and the occasionally $10 to $15 loose circulated 19th-century coin.
Coin Guy had gold coins as well, and when I think back to the prices he wanted for Type III Liberty gold $20s or Indian $10s, I think about how much I wish I could have told him, “I’ll take all that you have!”
But the truth is, gold coins, even at the attractive prices they sold for in the 1960s and the early 2000s, were always out of reach.
If Zaid’s four-coin set was offered today in MS63 condition, it would run you $5,300. Maybe you could shave off a couple of bucks by getting ugly coins… but who in their right mind would want the ugliest coins in their collection to be the ones they paid the most money for?
I remember a few years ago seeing PCGS Rare Coin Market Report editor Josh McMorrow-Hernandez at a coin show and he had just purchased a Saint-Gaudens $20. It was a big deal to him as owning one was on his collector’s bucket list and he had saved up for quite some time in order to buy it. I was very happy for him and I realized that I’ve never actually owned one myself.
Even today, despite having a handful of gold coins in my collection, I’ve never made a serious effort to get into classic U.S. gold. Not due to a lack of interest, I assure you.
I will, I believe, buy at least a representative sampling. I have to if I ever hope to finish my “Mint State” DANSCO 7070. In my mind, my fully-complete coin album would need to include the now optional gold page. That page requires 10 pieces: two gold dollars (Types I and III); two quarter eagles (Liberty and Indian); two half eagles (same); two eagles (ditto); and two double eagles (Liberty and Saint-Gaudens). I’m 10% of the way there and I still need to buy the page, which itself sells for as much as $90 on the secondary market as DANSCO no longer includes it in the album. Several years ago, the company swapped it out for a completely dreadful page of late 20th-century dollars, Bicentennial coins, a commemorative dollar, and a Silver Eagle. Every time I see that page, I cringe.
The DANSCO 7070 is, in my mind, the coolest of all the coin albums. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but no coin album better curates the story of circulating American coinage from 1800-1978. It’s also not a “cheap” album to undertake, even if one were to fill the holes with XFs or below.
That DANSCO removed the gold page is no surprise, as filling those 10 golden holes is probably out of reach for most of their customers. It’s a shame, really, as no other page in that book would elicit the same response.