Category Archives: Item of the Week

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Star Varieties for 1798/97 Gold Eagle

A 1798/97 gold eagle graded MS-62+ by Professional Coin Grading Service. (Images courtesy PCGS)
It should come as no surprise that the first gold eagles of the United States are very tough coins. After all, back in the 1790s, a $10 gold coin was a lot of money for almost everyone

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Item of the Week: The 1938 Washington Quarter

This 1938 Washington quarter is graded PR-64 by NGC. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions)
A better date when it comes to a Philadelphia Washington quarter can be a relative matter. The 1938 Washington quarter is certainly better than the 1964 but with a total mintage of 564,341,347, it is probably easy to make the case that almost any quarter produced is better than the 1964

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Item of the Week: The 1833 Half Cent

An 1833 Classic Head half cent graded PR-64 Brown by PCGS. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions)
Good values can be found in some surprising places. The 1833 half cent might well qualify as a surprising place as it is not a half cent that gets much attention, but when you consider the factors surrounding it as a good coin for the money it can start to look better and better

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Item of the Week: 1949 Franklin Half Dollar

A 1949-S Franklin half dollar graded PCGS MS-67 with full bell lines. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions)
Franklin half dollars seem to have found an audience based on record prices and dealers running prices for coins they want to buy. An impressive list once came from the Littleton Coin Company in Littleton, N

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1804: Standout Era Dime

1804 dime with 13 stars on reverse. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions)
Being a tough early dime of the United States is not an easy thing to do as virtually any early dime of the United States is tough and expensive. That said, the 1804 stands out as one of the better dates

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Item of the Week: The 1804 Gold Eagle

An 1804 Crosslet eagle. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions)
The 1804 gold eagle is closely related to the famous 1804 silver dollar. There is one variety of the 1804 gold eagle that is actually tougher than the 1804 silver dollar but much less expensive, making the 1804 potentially one of America’s least-known rarities despite its famous date

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The 1796 Quarter

Images courtesy Heritage Auctions
There are not many coins in the history of the United States about which it can truly be said that they are both very scarce and very historic, but both things apply to the 1796 quarter, and that makes it a very special coin.
The 1796 quarter has a very secure place in history as it was the first quarter of the United States. The fact that it was not produced until 1796 is perhaps a good indication as to how low a priority producing quarters really was at the time

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The 1908 No Motto Double Eagle

1908-A 1908 Saint-Gaudens double eagle with No Motto. (Images courtesy Heritage Auctions)
Some coins are important because they are virtually impossible while others are important because they are more available than might be expected. It is the latter which is certainly the case with the 1908 No Motto Saint-Gaudens double eagle

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The 1796 Dime

The 1796 dime. Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions
It has few peers in terms of historical importance, and for those who like tough coins, it also qualifies on that front as the 1796 is both historic and scarce. The only real problem with the 1796 is that you have to find one being offered and then you have to be able to afford it which is sometimes easier said than done

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Item of the Week: 1838-O Half dollar

1838-O half dollar. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)
Without a lot of fanfare except among specialists, the 1838-O half dollar is probably on a very short list of the most important coins of the United States and also on the short list of the most historic.
The story of the 1838-O dates back before 1838 to the agreement to establish a branch mint in New Orleans

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The 10th Anniversary 1995-W Silver American Eagle

Shown here is a 10th Anniversary 1995-W Silver American Eagle Proof. Images courtesy ofHeritage Auctions
It was a single special silver American Eagle and as such, it was expected to attract a lot of attention, but when the 1995-W silver American Eagle was offered, it did not result in the sort of sales which might have been expected. This has resulted in the 1995-W silver American Eagle becoming an extraordinary coin today and one which seems to keep looking better and better with the passage of time

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The 1893 Isabella Quarter is in a Class of Its Own

Shown here, a fantastic example of an 1893 Isabella quarter in MS-67 PCGS condition. The coin is being offered at the July 11-14 Summer Fun US Coins Signature Auction in Orlando by Heritage Auctions. (Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions)
Coins that stand out or are unusual are always interesting and that is true of the Isabella quarter as the Isabella quarter ranks as the only commemorative quarter in U

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Did The 1933 Gold Eagle Circulate?

Image courtesy of usacoinbook.com
The 1933 Indian Head gold eagle is probably the best coin of the United States, which could be called a poor man’s 1933 gold coin. Considering the 1933 gold eagle currently lists for $600,000 in MS-65 it is hard to imagine the word “poor” in any sentence involving the 1933 but since the only other gold coin of 1933 (the famous Saint-Gaudens double eagle of 1933) which once sold for $7

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Item of the Week: 1870 Two-Cent Piece

The 1870 two-cent piece is a slightly better date.  It is not the key two-cent piece business strike as that honor falls to the 1872 while the proof only 1873 remains the toughest date needed to fill a collection.  That said, the 1870 tells a story about the times and about the denomination so it’s a date worth knowing and having in a collection

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1860-S quarter value continues to climb

Its rich history as a relic of the Gold Rush, combined with its lower mintage, make the 1860-S Seated Liberty quarter both relatively affordable and a coin that is poised to keep rising in price.
Many collectors want a rare date at a bargain price. I happen to be among that group, but I am not very impressed when I read what others suggest are sleepers

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Many factors influenced 1850 silver dollar supply

A small mintage, lack of contemporary interest, the Gold Rush, threat of melting, and exportation overseas are factors that led to the limited supply of 1850 Seated Liberty dollars available today.
The 1850 Seated Liberty dollar is definitely a better date, which in the case of this series says a great deal. There are virtually no Seated Liberty dollars that can be called available or common

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More to 1919-S Buffalo nickel than mintage totals

Although lower-grade examples of the 1919-S Buffalo nickel are less costly than its sister 1919-D coin in lower grades, it vaults to nearly twice the 1919-D value in MS65 condition.
Things were pretty confusing back in 1919. The heavily favored White Sox lost the World Series to Cincinnati, and no one could understand that

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1807 half dollars reflect early Mint history

The year 1807 saw production of two half dollar designs: Draped Bust (top) and Capped Bust (bottom).
In the entire history of half dollars, there have probably been few more interesting and diverse years than 1807. It was a year when collectors simply trying to keep up with the different issues could almost have worn a path to their source of new coins, which makes for a truly fascinating story for collectors today

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Discovering scarcity of 1801 Draped Bust dollar

While the reported mintage for the 1801 Draped Bust silver dollar is 54,454, many factors raise questions about the accuracy of that figure and, therefore, the true scarcity of the coin.
The first coins of the United States are both historic and interesting. They are also generally scarce, and for some of us, they can be frustrating

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1861-D half eagle history shrouded in mystery

As control of the Dahlonega Mint moved from the United States to the state of Georgia to the Confederate States of America in the early days of the Civil War, questions remain on how many 1861-D half eagles were struck and under what authority. (Images courtesy www.usacoinbook

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1805 the first quarter many can afford

Whether or not demand will result in significant price increases, the 1805 Draped Bust quarter with Heraldic Eagle reverse is a historic coin with a relatively affordable price in lower grades.
Early quarters are just plain tough. In fact, if you are living on an average income, you could have a real problem trying to afford any early quarter

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Lower-grade 1810 half cents show price jump

While the 1810 Classic Head half cent is not readily available in any grade, examples from the lower end of the grading scale have shown exponential price increases over the past two decades.
Half cents are a lot tougher than you might think. Just try to buy one in G-4 condition – even an example that all the specialists would scoff at will cost you a very good premium over a similarly average large cent

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1855 Seated Liberty dollar ‘dramatically underrated’

Several factors – including a low mintage, lack of public and collector interest at the time, and limited supply in today’s market – have caused the 1855 Seated Liberty dollar to become a true sleeper.
Sleepers come in all forms. Sometimes coins are not heavily collected, and as a result, are not priced at the same levels as others with a greater collector base

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Relatively high mintage helped 1820 half eagle survive

Although not large by normal standards, the relatively high mintage for the 1820 Capped Head left half eagle (when compared to its contemporaries) led to a higher number of examples surviving in Mint State today than one would expect.
Let’s be honest – the average collector has little chance of acquiring a Capped Head left half eagle from the 1820s. It is just not likely to happen since the mintages are so small

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1905 Barber half dollar tough in top grades

Low demand keeps prices down for the 1905 Barber half dollar, especially for proof examples, which are actually easier to find than high-grade Mint State examples.
Normally people don’t get very excited about issues from Philadelphia, especially those from the past century. Their mintages were routinely higher than either Denver or San Francisco, so they tend to be more available

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1908-S Saint-Gaudens supply held in European vaults

Although not widely collected at the time of its release, the 1908-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle supply is better than expected today as a number were shipped to Europe rather than melted.
While the 1908-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle is not a great rarity, it is tough. It also has an interesting story, which makes it fun for collectors to study and to own

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Average supply makes top 1880-O Morgans tough

Original bags of 1880-O Morgan dollars did not always contain Mint State coins, resulting in a limited supply of top-grade examples left for collectors on the market today.
The 1880-O Morgan dollar might just be a sleeper. It’s a better New Orleans date than most people realize, although it is still at least available in most grades

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Top-grade 1918-D dime has become a key date

While lower-grade examples may still be readily available, the 1918-D Mercury dime in top grades is commanding prices that puts it among the top few regular dates in the series.
No one ever thought of the 1918-D Mercury dime as anything close to the key 1916-D in terms of availability, but that is beginning to change. Only in the past couple of decades has the 1918-D been sought in MS-65 condition with full split bands

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1916-S half appeals for numerous reasons

A new design, a relatively low mintage, and an obverse mintmark (later moved to the reverse) are factors that combine to lend collector interest to the 1916-S Walking Liberty half dollar.
Even though the 1916-S Walking Liberty half dollar is not as expensive as its low mintage might suggest, it certainly is historic. While you may not get a bargain price, you do get a coin with a lot to offer

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1937-D three-legged Buffalo stays popular

The loss of a limb on the 1937-D Buffalo nickel reverse probably resulted from too much regrinding of a die in order to remove clash marks.
Some coins just seem to catch everyone by surprise and create a special demand because they are different. That is certainly the case with the 1937-D Buffalo nickel, since the animal on the reverse has only three legs

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1855-S half was first from San Francisco

In addition to its importance as the first half dollar struck at the San Francisco Mint, the 1885-S Seated Liberty half dollar was also the only San Francisco half struck with arrows at the date.
There are a lot of interesting Seated Liberty half dollars. High on that list has to be the 1855-S, which is both historically important and a much more difficult coin than might be expected

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1913-S Barber has no place to go but up

Despite having the lowest mintage for regular-date silver coins of the 20th century, the 1913-S Barber quarter is neither the most expensive silver coin nor the key date of the Barber series.
Just call it an unrecognized rarity. While expensive and desirable, the 1913-S Barber quarter does not get the attention it deserves, especially as the lowest-mintage, regular-date silver coin of the 20th century

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1885 Seated Liberty half tough but available

A wave of concern over appearances that the Mint was intentionally creating rarities led to more 1885 half dollars being struck than were needed, even though mintages are considered low today.
When is a rarity not a rarity? The answer might well be a coin like the 1885 Seated Liberty half dollar. While certainly a tough and valuable coin, it is actually more available than its very low mintage would suggest

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1918-S one of best Buffalo branch-mint nickels

More available than expected in lower grades, tougher than expected in Mint State and rare in the highest grades, the 1918-S Buffalo nickel appeals to collectors on many different levels.
The 1918-S Buffalo nickel is one of the best of a very good group that is many times overlooked. At a price of $13,250 today in MS-65 condition, it certainly is one of the best of the branch-mint nickels from the teens and 1920s

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Key 1877 three cents had low, proof-only mintage

While the 1877 copper-nickel three-cent piece had a proof-only mintage of just 900 coins, they were saved by collectors, and a high percentage survive today in Proof-65 condition or better.
There is little doubt that the 1877 Coronet Head three-cent piece is the key to the copper-nickel three-cent set. Interestingly enough, the date, which was issued only as a proof, is neither well known nor that expensive

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Price does not always reflect importance

While the Los Angeles Olympics silver dollar of 1983 can currently be purchased for $25 or less, its historical value in paving the way for modern commemorative coins is priceless.
As time passes, the Los Angeles Olympics silver dollar commemorative of 1983 receives less and less attention. That may be a natural consequence, but this is one coin that should not be forgotten

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Interesting story behind 1864 Indian Head cent trio

A composition change from copper-nickel to bronze, plus a pointed bust variety of the latter that includes the designer’s initial, resulted in three different Indian Head cents for the year 1864.
The Indian Head cents of 1864 are a very interesting and historic group. As you may have guessed from the word “group,” there is more than one

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Mintage misleading for 1923-S Peace dollar

Although more than 19 million 1923-S Peace dollars were struck, very few were saved by collectors who thought it was common.
It hardly seems possible that sleepers can still be found for any type of silver dollar. Along with its popularity have come articles, books and all the information we could seemingly absorb, including which dates are tougher in certain grades

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Maine Centennial half missed celebration

The 1920 Maine Centennial half dollar was successfully sold by the office of the state treasurer after it failed to be ready in time for the statehood celebration that year in Portland.
One would think that something like a statehood centennial half dollar would be a relatively straightforward commemorative. But considering what happened with the Maine Centennial half, one can see the potential for problems with later issues

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1869-S dimes possess interesting past

Struck in small numbers, the 1869-S Seated Liberty dime has a proportionally high population of Mint State examples. Did these coins all originate from a small hoard discovered in Europe?
It’s amazing to consider how many stories there are regarding lost or missing coins. There are also numerous stories about coins that suddenly appear in places where they should not be

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1918-D half tough to find in top grades

Limited collector interest at the time of its release now causes the 1918-D Walking Liberty half dollar to command a modern-day premium price, particulariy in higher Mint State grades.
Ever since we changed to a grading system with a number of different Mint State grades, we have been learning a lot about Walking Liberty half dollars.
Prior to grading them MS-65 and better, few would have thought that a 1919-D Walking Liberty half might be worth tens of thousands of dollars more than a 1921-S or a 1921-D

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Mintage doesn’t tell full 1878-S story

Just when you think you have rare coin pricing all figured out, along comes the 1878-S Seated Liberty half dollar to throw you a curve. Actually, it is not certain whether the 1878-S is the half dollar with the unusual price, or the dates around it with similar mintages are not correctly valued.
For those who like answers for everything, this might not be the place to find one

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1876-CC prices, grades range wide

If you had been handed a Trade dollar back in 1877, you might have been unsure how to handle it as it just had had its legal-tender status revoked. Some were saying they were silver dollars and worth as much while others correctly said they were worth their silver value. At the time, their silver value was declining to where they were worth less than a dollar

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Don’t overlook potential in 1871 cent

We already know the 1871 Indian Head cent may well be one of the best Indian Head cents in MS-65, but the possibility exists that it is even better than we already suspect.The 1871 Indian Head cent is among the elite coins of the series in Mint State-65.The situation back in 1871 was a complicated one, but it’s worth understanding as it almost certainly played a role in making the 1871 as tough as it is to find in Mint State today

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1853-O half dime rarer than thought

Some coins are better than their mintages suggest and that is almost certainly the case with the 1853-O half dime. In fact, there are two 1853-O half dimes: ones with arrows at the date and one without the arrows and it is that latter which is potentially much better than its mintage totals suggest.The 1853-O half dime with arrows can be bought for only $20

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Rare 1909-O half eagle isn’t cheap

The 1909-O Indian Head half eagle is a very underrated coin. In fact, the 1909-O, at least in MS-65, is a significant rarity ranking among the most difficult gold coins in top grade of the past century. It is not that available in any grade and while not well known by most, if you attempt a set of Indian Head half eagles, you will learn to respect the 1909-O very quickly

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Collectors ignored 1973-S silver Ike

Three years of high issue prices for the 40 percent silver proof Eisenhower dollars left collectors sour to the series at the time, making a Prf-65 1973-S silver proof $45 today.The 1973-S Eisenhower dollar was the result of a pattern from the first couple of years of Eisenhower dollars. It had been decided that there would be 40 percent silver Eisenhower dollars that were offered in proof and brilliant uncirculated to collectors

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Marketing sold Stone Mountain half

The Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar is a coin that might very well not get approved today. It was a different era and people viewed things differently than we do today. That is not to excuse anything, or to draw any conclusions except to suggest that the idea of a half dollar to help pay for the carving of Confederate leaders and soldiers into a mountain in Georgia is probably today a non-starter when it comes to ideas

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Collectors overlook 1918-D Buffalo

It is definitely easy to overlook the 1918-D Buffalo nickel simply because a small number of its mintage were the famous 1918/17-D overdate. Of course, back in 1918, no one noticed and decades later when the 1918/17-D was discovered, it was really too late to find them in top grades. In MS-65, if you can locate a dealer with one, the 1918/17-D would be close to $300,000

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Bagmarks spoil Illinois half dollars

It’s technically the Illinois Centennial half dollar but it is Abraham Lincoln who dominates the design and is known to many as the Lincoln-Illinois Centennial half dollar. The fact that the Illinois Centennial half dollar was dated 1918 should give some clue as to its real original intent as 1918 was the centennial of the admission of the state of Illinois to the Union.Back in 1918, well before the glut of commemoratives, the Illinois Centennial half dollar might have seemed unusual

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1893-CC last of Carson City dollars

The 1893-CC Morgan dollar has the special distinction of being the last of the Carson City Morgan dollars – and one that is expensive and rare in upper grades.Even before 1893, there were clear signs that the Carson City Mint was not working out. Morgan dollars had been produced there through 1885 and then production stopped only to resume again in 1889 before coming to an end in 1893

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Low-mintage 1889-S not really scarce

Probably the best thing about Morgan dollars is that they are all different and you really can make no assumptions based on their mintages as to whether one is available or not. There are just always surprises lurking as some Morgans got saved and others were melted, but mintages do not tell you what happened to any particular date once they left the Mint.The 1889-S is a good example of this situation

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