By Jim Bisognani – Numismatic Guaranty Corporation …..
Two Cent Red Rarities; Franklin Halves A Valuable & Economical Series
I can’t believe that as this article posts we are only a day away from the largest coin show in the US, the ANA World’s Fair of Money.
The big show traditionally confirms areas of market vitality and sluggishness and also signals the end of the summer season, at least numismatically.
Personally, I’m not quite ready to think about fall as I’m enjoying numismatic summer too much. However, there was one ominous sign of things to come. I found a small yet vibrant red and gold colored leaf had already fallen from one of my trees. One of bushels more to flutter and fall before the season is over. But for now it’s time for endless summer at the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money in sunny Southern California.
The World’s Fair of Money is a time for camaraderie, great coins and of course great auctions by the official auctioneer Stack’s Bowers and Heritage Auctions. While both sales feature tremendous US and world rarities, thousands of coins will be available for collectors of all budgets and collecting interests. Perhaps hobbyists will embark on a new and challenging series. If you’re going to the show, I heartily recommend getting online and viewing favored lots in advance. Be prepared for all the competition!
I have already scanned the tens of thousands of offerings and have selected a few that tell a numismatic tale of value and history.
From the Heritage ANA Signature sale August 10-14
An 1862 7-piece Proof set, including:
- Copper-nickel Indian Cent NGC PF 65
- Three Cent Silver NGC PF 64
- Liberty Seated Half Dime NGC PF 65
- Liberty Seated Dime NGC PF 64
- Liberty Seated Quarter NGC PF 65
- Liberty Seated Half Dollar NGC PF 65
- Liberty Seated Dollar NGC PF 65
An absolutely luscious assembly. All of the coins were struck to the tune of a modest 550 for collectors of the day and are superb numismatic artifacts struck during the early stages of the Civil War. Not only are the coins all rich in history they’re all rich in originality and individual character. While not necessarily saved at the same time from the Philadelphia facility, all exhibit uniform striking characteristics and coloration. Totally original, this set really belongs together. Certainly a rare opportunity to acquire this complete and dazzling minor set.
Another mid-range priced treasure is the often unheralded 1872 Two Cent Piece, this one graded NGC MS 64+ RD. To me this coin has always been under rated and is very difficult to come by problem free in any grade. The NGC Census certainly backs it up as there are only a total of 344 coins in all grades for business strikes.
Accordingly it’s a coin that is often asked for but very rarely seen in dealer’s inventory. Try traipsing the bourse floor in Anaheim and see how many you come up with. If you find any extras another dealer will gleefully take them off your hands. The Two Cent Piece series has always enjoyed a staunch following with many collectors. Not only is it the first coin to utilize the motto “In God We Trust“, a sentiment which rang so true during the ominous later stages of the Civil War, it is also a short-lived series.
I personally enjoy the coin immensely both historically and the simplistic yet solid design elements.
What makes the 1872 coin so special is it’s the last year for regular production as 1873s were minted in Proof format only. It also reflects the smallest output within the series. From the original mintage of some 65,000, few were saved in top grade.
Now when it pertains to copper, every collector strives to acquire full Red examples for their collections. Half Cent, Large Cent, Small Cent and Two Cent Pieces, it is the pinnacle of the grading standard and is quite elusive for key dates as well as for many so called commoners within their respective series.
For the series at hand, the Two Cent Piece was struck a total of nine years and reports in with a mere 674 coins achieving full Mint State Red designation according to the NGC Census.
While this figure is quite minimal, nearly 500 of those “Red” Two Cent pieces (or 74% of the NGC Census) have been awarded to the first year 1864 Large Motto (294 graded Red) and the 1865 charting 204 as full Red!
Even the highly regarded 1864 Small Motto Two Cent Piece reporting in with a census of 35 coins graded as Mint State Red ranks third in rarity by the NGC Census following the 1865! I am sure that leaves many a collector scratching their respective noggins.
Therefore, collectors as well as dealers may find the following data very interesting and quite revealing as to the rarity within this short-lived Civil War era coinage.
According to the NGC Census as of 8/1/2016 all of the following Two Cent Pieces harbor significantly fewer members designated as full Red than the 1864 Small Motto:
For edification, the 1864 Small Motto with 35 MS Red designees tops the NGC grading scale at MS 66 with six coins sharing the top spot. The current NGC Price Guide valuation for that grade is $38,250.
The 1872 coin in question, which is up for sale in Anaheim at the auction held by Heritage, is by far the rarest Red Two Cent Piece. One of just five coins awarded the full Red designation, the MS 64+ appears to be fresh to the market. This piece is extraordinarily choice exhibiting a full sharp strike and eye appealing copper gold and amber patination.
While not a coin for the average collector, it is certainly a coin within many collectors’ means and should probably be considered quite seriously. If the aficionado is attempting to build a complete Mint State set, this coin is a must. Remember this is one of just five coins graded as full Red by NGC and it will be the first recorded sale, as far as I can ascertain, for a MS 64+ RD!
From the Stack’s Bowers ANA Sale August 9-16
1917-D Standing Liberty Quarter Type I NGC MS 67 FH
A totally stunning and original Type I Standing Liberty Quarter! Visually striking and superbly preserved the eye appeal is fabulous for this classically designed issue. This is one dynamic statement of a coin for the collector looking to secure a Type I Standing Liberty.
According to the NGC Census only two coins, both MS 68 FH’s, rank higher numerically. Another relatively short-lived series (1916-1930) yet one that is stocked with numerous key dates and condition census rarities such as this offering in the Stack’s Bowers host ANA sale.
With the upcoming release later this year of the Gold Standing Liberty Centennial Commemorative coin by the US Mint, the entire original series designed by Hermon A. MacNeil is bound to get a boost of interest and collecting excitement. What better way to get on board than to start a collection with this golden age coin?
1949-S Franklin Half Dollar NGC MS 67+ ★ FBL
The ultimate 1949-S Franklin Half Dollar tied for the Finest known according to the NGC Census. Just a superb coin; bold white satiny luster engulfs the obverse as a crescent of orange and lively amber plays host on the peripheries of this Ultra Gem. The 1949-S has the distinction of being the ”key” date within the regular designation in Circulated to MS 64. Beyond that standard grade designation and especially those Franklins which are FBL (Full Bell Lines) catapult in Census rarity and Price Guide valuations.
That said I have always admired the Franklin Half Dollar. It was pocket change from my youth and it is a stately looking coin, really the last produced during the transitional period from the 1930s on to reflect an image of a real American and not an allegorical representation. It is also the last standard issue coin (until the Susan B. Anthony Dollar) that featured a non-President. Mr. Franklin’s Half Dollar is a worthy and practical way for collectors to build a full set in Mint State. For reference a near full Gem set of MS 64s according to the August NGC Price Guide will run $1,660 for the complete set. This is truly a valuable yet economical series to complete.
If you’re California bound, enjoy the ANA in Anaheim my friends. I hope to see you on the bourse!
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.
NGC-Certified Two-Cent Coins Currently Available on eBay