Posted on June 17, 2011 by Don Willis
The recent sale of some of Dr. Hesselgesser’s early dollars got me thinking. Have you ever thought about how difficult it is to find early dollars in PCGS AU58? PCGS AU58 early dollars are exceptionally scarce. They are extremely difficult to make and can be quite rare and valuable.
I sold a lot of early dollars when I was a dealer. It was very seldom indeed that I could locate a PCGS AU58 example of any date (the 1799 is by far the most common). I was known for dealing in early type so I got “first shot” at numerous collections of early dollars. Still there were very, very few coins that graded PCGS AU58. Over a 7 year period of being an aggressive high buyer, I was only able to locate around 3 dozen examples. It takes quite a coin to make it to that level in PCGS’ opinion. Like most of us, I learned the hard way just how discriminating PCGS was compared to other grading services.
I helped build several early dollar collections. I was always overjoyed when I was able to help a good client fill a hole with a PCGS AU58 coin. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really nice AU55 coins out there that we often had to settle for. An AU55 is a very choice AU, but doesn’t quite have everything that an AU58 coin does.
Check out the population reports. After 25 years PCGS has graded only 65 Flowing Hair dollars, 51 Small Eagle dollars and 227 Large Eagle dollars in AU58. The numbers may be a bit high because so many people try to get their PCGS AU58 coins upgraded, either by PCGS or another grading company. Some of my best scores were when I could by a PCGS AU58 coin from a crack-out dealer before they resubmitted it hoping for mint state. By far the most common date is the 1799 which PCGS reports having graded 96 in AU58 (counting the overdate).
When Dr. Hesselgesser’s coin were offered in auction it was quite a thrill for me. For starters the opening lot was the only known PCGS AU58 example of 1794. This coin was previously part of the Connecticut Historical Society. That was soon followed by the only known 1795 FH Silver Plug in AU58 (that came from me). A dynamite rarity soon followed: the 1798 13 Star Small Eagle in AU58! When he purchased that coin from me it was the single AU58 and the finest known. Now the pop says 3 with one finer.
There were a few other PCGS AU58 dollars offered in the auction that were part of the Dr H collection including a 1798 LE, a 1799, and an 1801. These coins represent just the tip of the iceberg of the good doctor’s collection but would take an immense amount of work and luck to replace.
So think about it. The next time you see a PCGS AU58 early dollar be sure to examine it closely. You will be holding a truly rare and significant coin!
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