By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com …… CoinWeek Content Partner
I recently sold a really nice 1810 Large Date Large 5 half eagle graded MS62+ by PCGS and approved by CAC. As I was writing the description of the coin before putting it up for sale on my website, I came to the conclusion that, for many date and type collectors of early US gold, a nice MS62 or MS62+ might well be the perfect grade. In order to make my case, here follows four reasons why.
MS62 Coins Are Really “New”
In the realm of early gold, MS60 is a virtually non-existent grade. According to the latest PCGS population figures (May 2020), only 60 (or 3.14%) of a total of 1909 Capped Bust half eagles graded “Uncirculated” were MS60.
In my experience, many MS61 early gold coins are very “rubby” and could just as likely have graded AU58. It really isn’t until you get up to the MS62/MS62+ level that you can assume that the Uncirculated coin you are considering for your collection is actually “new”.
This, in my opinion, makes MS62 the most realistic Uncirculated grade for the collector who can’t consider buying a Gem.
1810 LARGE DATE, LARGE 5 $5.00 PCGS MS62+ CAC. Images courtesy Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN)
MS62 Capped Bust Half Eagles Have a Low Spread Versus AU Coins
If we can assume that an MS62 example of this type is superior in appearance to an AU55 or an AU58, how do prices compare? Let’s look at this specific date/variety in four grades along with current (May 2020) PCGS Price Guide levels.
Since the specific coin I sold was CAC-approved, let’s focus on values of CAC coins. My estimated values for CAC-approved examples of coins in these five grades are as follows:
As you can see the values are very compressed between AU55 and MS62. On coins like gold dollars or silver commemorative half dollars, price compression occurs due to the fact that the market perceives very little difference in quality between grades.
In other words, an AU55 1852-C gold dollar often is not markedly different than an MS61 example of this date.
But this is not the case with early half eagles, where an MS62 is typically noticeably finer than an AU55. In my opinion, this price compression is not justified on Capped Bust half eagles.
On non-CAC coins, the price spread is greater but this is due to the fact that many non-CAC early gold coins are low-end for the grade. Comparing a non-CAC AU55 1810 half eagle to a CAC-approved MS62 will show a greater distance between values but it will also show a significant difference in quality.
The Price Spread Between MS62 and MS63 Suggests a Big Difference in Quality
In past articles and blogs, I have discussed the concept of the jump grade. This is the point on the grading scale where the difference in price increases significantly. According to recent PCGS Price Guide data, we can observe the following difference in prices:
While the difference between MS62 and MS63 Capped Bust half eagles suggested by the PCGS Price Guide, the “real world” difference between CAC approved MS62 and MS63 is even more significant:
These valuations are based on the fact that I just sold a PCGS/CAC MS62+ 1810 Large Date/Large 5 for $15,250, and that the most recent APR for a PCGS/CAC MS63 example of this variety is Stack’s Bowers March 2018: 2278 at $30,000.
Real World Experience Suggests Little Difference in Quality Between an MS62 and an MS63 Capped Bust Half Eagle
As I posited above, there is a significant difference in actual appearance between most AU58 Capped Bust half eagles and coins graded MS62. But this difference is generally much less significant in coins graded MS62 and MS63. In fact, I would strongly suggest that most collectors (and many dealers) couldn’t tell the difference between a nice MS62 and a better-than-average MS63.
What is the difference between an MS62 and an MS63 Capped Bust half eagle? In my experience, an MS62 shows a few more marks, it might have some luster breaks in the left obverse field, and it will likely have slightly less overall eye appeal than its MS63 counterpart.
Does the difference between the two grades merit a doubling in price? I think not, especially when you consider that there is such price compression between AU55 and MS62+.
Thus, I conclude that MS62 (and MS62+) represent the best value grade for this design type.
Are you interested in obtaining early gold coins which represent excellent value? Please contact Doug Winter via email at [email protected] or by phone 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 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
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 an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have 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.