By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
CoinWeek Content Partner ……
When I speak to new collectors, they are often under the impression that most of the coins I sell are in the five- and six-figure range. While my company does sell a good number of expensive US gold coins, the bread and butter items in my inventory are typically pieces in the $2,500-5,000 range. Given this statement, I can answer the question which this blog asks with an emphatic “YES!!”
Let’s look at all six major denominations of US gold and briefly analyze where a per coin budget of $2,500-5,000 goes a long way. *Every photo included is from our recent inventory, and every coin shown is was priced under $5,000.
1862 $1.00 PCGS MS66 CAC. All images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics
First, let’s look at gold dollars. This is a denomination where our proposed budget range will actually go quite far.
While we will not be able to purchase any of the really rare Charlotte and Dahlonega issues, the more obtainable issues (especially in the Type One design of 1849-1854) can be purchased in Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated within our price parameters. Every New Orleans and San Francisco issue is obtainable (often in comparably high grades), and most Philadelphia issues are within this budget as well. While gold dollars are small and sometimes crude, they are an interesting alternative for the collector on a $2,500-5,000 budget.
1836 SCRIPT 8 $2.50 PCGS AU55 CAC
Next up is quarter eagles. The early issues in this denomination (1796-1834) are all expensive due to their rarity, but the Philadelphia Classic Head issues (1834-1839) are well within range of the collector on a $2,500-5,000 per coin basis. In fact, a really nice set can be put together with all of the coins grading AU. The mintmarked Classic Head issues are another story and will have to be left to those collectors on a bigger budget.
1849-D $2.50 PCGS AU50 CAC
The Liberty Head issues (1840-1907) offer a wide range of options for collectors on a $2,500-5,000 budget. Many of the more available Charlotte and Dahlonega issues can be purchased in this price range, as can all of the New Orleans quarter eagles struck between 1840 and 1857. The Philadelphia and San Francisco issues offer a host of undervalued coins in the EF/AU grade range, and the common dates from the 1890s and 1900s can be purchased in very high grades (up to MS65 or even MS66).
1908 $2.50 PCGS MS65 CAC
The Indian Head quarter eagle series (1908-1929) is currently out-of-favor, but it offers many possibilities for the collector on a budget of $2,500-5,000 per coin. More than maybe any other denomination of US gold, quarter eagles seem especially well-suited to this budget range.
1883 $3.00 PCGS AU58
Three Dollar gold pieces were made from 1854 through 1889. Many issues can be purchased in the $2,500-5,000 and this includes common dates in grades up to MS63 and scarcer dates in the lower Uncirculated dates.
1838 $5.00 PCGS AU58 CAC
Early half eagles are not available in the sub-$5,000 range, but the Philadelphia Classic Heads (1834-1838) are all affordable and nice high end AU coins can be purchased $2,000-3,000 each.
1847-C $5.00 PCGS AU53 CAC
The Liberty Head series (1839-1908) features a seemingly array of issues with two major types: the No Motto (through 1866) and the With Motto (1866 until 1908). A collector who can afford to spend $4,000 or $5,000 per coin can purchase some exceptional Southern branch mint issues, with many dates available in the EF40 to AU55 range. Any Philadelphia No Motto half eagles offer a tremendous amount of bang for the buck with virtually every pre-Civil War date obtainable in the $1,000-4,000 per coin range.
1870-S $5.00 PCGS EF45 CAC
With Motto half eagles offer a good range of possibilities. There are a number of scarce to rare Philadelphia and San Francisco issues from the first two decades of this design which can be obtained for less than $5,000. The more available Carson City half eagles from the 1880s and ’90s are also possibilities, as are common dates from the ’90s and early 1900s in high grades (MS63 to MS65).
1908 $5.00 PCGS MS64+ CAC
The Indian Head half eagle series (1908-1929) includes a number of more available issues which can be purchased in the MS63 to MS64 range within a $2,500-5,000 budget. But most of the rare dates are not within this range and this makes the Indian Head type an unrealistic collecting target.
1853-O $10.00 NGC AU55 CAC
Early eagles (1795-1804) are obviously not available within our proposed coin budget. No Motto Liberty eagles (1838-1866) are, and a nice date run of Philadelphia issues can be assembled on a sub-$5,000 per coin budget. In fact, with just a few exceptions (1838, 1839 Head of 1840, 1844, 1858, and 1862–1865), a really neat collection of nice AU coins could be assembled over the course of a few years. There are also a good number of New Orleans issues of this type available in the $2,500-5,000 range, including some scarcer dates.
1897-O $10.00 PCGS MS62 CAC
With Motto eagles present collectors on a budget with a number of possibilities. The best of these, in my opinion, is the “short set” of New Orleans issued produced from 1888 to 1906. A few of the more available Carson City issues from the 1880s and the ’90s are within this budget as are some scarcer, mostly overlooked issues from Philadelphia and San Francisco.
1912-S $10.00 NGC MS62 CAC
There are a few dates in the Indian Head eagle series (1907-1933) within this budget, but this is not a practical series for our sub-$5,000 endeavor. I would suggest looking at this lovely design more as a type coin, and non-CAC approved common dates are now selling as cheaply as $2,500 or so.
You would think that a $2,500-5,000 per coin budget wouldn’t go far in the Liberty Head double eagle series (1850-1907) but this isn’t true. While you won’t be able to purchase any rarities, there are a surprising number of coins available in this range.
1861 $20.00 PCGS MS61
Type One coins were made from 1850 through 1866 and many dates can be obtained in EF and AU grades for less than $5,000. This includes some reasonably scarce Philadelphia issues from the 1850s, and some of the popular San Francisco issues from the Civil War.
1876-CC $20.00 PCGS EF45 CAC
Type Two coins were made from 1866 through 1876 and, again, many dates can be obtained in EF and AU grades for less than $5,000. This even includes the two most available Carson City issues of this type (1875-CC and 1876-CC).
1877-S $20.00 PCGS MS62 CAC
Type Three coins were made from 1877 through 1907 and a majority of the issues can be obtained for less than $5,000; often in nice Uncirculated. There are at least a half dozen common date CC issues which can be obtained for less than $5,000, as well as virtually every San Francisco date from this design.
1914-S $20.00 PCGS MS65+ CAC
A collector with a $2,500-5,000 per coin budget is not likely to specialize in St. Gaudens double eagles, but there are dozens of dates in this series (1907-1933) which can be obtained in the MS62 to MS66 range. You won’t be buying rare dates, but it is a nice way to acquire a “position” in gold at a reasonable price.
In my opinion, it is a common misbelief that you have to have a huge budget to seriously collect US gold coins. As I have pointed out above, every denomination has a wide range of opportunities and it is possible to buy coins which date as far back as 1834 and/or which can be legitimately scarce. Whether your goal is to acquire some nice AU Charlotte and Dahlonega gold or a tall stack of Gem common date double eagles, your budget shouldn’t be a limiting factor.
Are you interested in buying affordable yet high quality US gold coins from America’s leading expert? Contact Doug Winter via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be certain to visit his website (raregoldcoins.com), which always features numerous choice, interesting coins in the $2,500-5,000 range.
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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 10 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.
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