Archive for July, 2012

When Is An Eagle A Peacock?

Posted on July 31, 2012 by No Comments

1853 50C BG-302 “Peacock” Reverse – PCGS MS63

BG-302 is a small California Fractional Gold coin that has been nick-named the “Peacock” reverse because of the rays that fan out behind the eagle, similar to the way a peacock displays his tail feathers when attempting to attract a mate. In reality, the bird on the back of the BG-302 is an eagle, perched on a single arrow, its tail feathers dangling downward, with rays of glory behind.

This reverse was also used on BG-303, and these are the only appearances of this die.

Listed as a Low Rarity-4 (approximately 150-200 known), this is a popular variety because of the unusual design type on the reverse. PCGS has certified over 100 examples as of August 2012, consistent with the BG rarity rating. Mint State survivors are fairly plentiful, usually in MS-62 to MS-63, and the best examples seen by PCGS include two Gem MS65s.

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Can This Happen Again?

Posted on July 27, 2012 by 1 Comment

A rarity created by the gold recall of 1933 – the 1933 $10 Indian

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring American citizens to turn over to the government “…all such coin, bullion or other possessions of gold and silver…within fourteen days…for compensation at the official price, in the legal tender of the Government.” Certain coins with numismatic premiums were excepted, but all current coinage, including 1933 eagles, would have been included. The original mintage of the 1933 $10 gold pieces was high, but very few were released before the government halted their distribution. Ultimately, all but a few examples in collectors’ hands were melted down. Thus, due to historic circumstances, Roosevelt created one of the great American coin rarities of the 20th centuries with the stroke of a pen.

The observations made by the late David Akers more than 20 years ago have held up remarkably well. No superb examples have shown up as of yet, and no European hoards have been discovered. The PCGS Condition Census consists almost entirely of gem (MS65) examples, the best being a single PCGS MS65+. For collectors, choosing an example boils down to luck, price, and personal preference, just as it always has.

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Now There Are Ten!

Posted on July 26, 2012 by 1 Comment

The Tenth Known 1817/4 Half Dollar – PCGS VG08


The known population of 1817/4 Half Dollars rose by one in mid-2012 following the announcement of the discovery of an example in an undisclosed collection. The new example was certified by PCGS asd VG08 (illustrated above) and sold to a Bust Half Dollar enthusiast for an undisclosed, six-figure sum.

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Posted on July 25, 2012 by No Comments

1867 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar - PCGS PR66+

The Proof 1867 Seated Liberty Silver Dollar is a scarce coin with a total mintage of only 625 Proofs. It’s not the lowest figure for the With Motto series (that distinction belongs to the 1868, 1869, and 1873 — all with 600 Proofs each). Nor does the 1867 have the highest Proof mintage (that honor is reserved for the 1870 with 1,000 Proofs). All of the dates in this series are priced similarly despite the differences in mintages, perhaps because the surviving populations of each date are nearly identical according to the PCGS Population Report. Thus, the 1867 Seated Dollar is considered a type coin in Proof condition, though the buyer gets a slightly better mintage.

Over 10% of the Proofs certified by PCGS thus far (July 2012) are Cameo Proofs. Deep Cameo versions are rare, and they are usually impaired by hairlines from old cleanings. The best Proof 1867 Seated Dollars certified by PCGS include a single PR66+, four PR65CAMS, and a single PR66DCAM.

When selecting a Proof 1867 Silver Dollar, look for a strong strike, surfaces that are as free as possible of hairlines and/or contact marks, strong cameo contrast (if it exists), and appealing, natural color.

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Low Mintage, Great Value!

Posted on July 24, 2012 by No Comments

1863 Copper-Nickel Indian Head Cent - PCGS PR65+

The 1863 Indian Head Cent has the second lowest Proof mintage of any Copper-Nickel Cent of the 1859-1864 period, yet it survives at a higher rate than dates such as the 1860 and 1861, which both have mintages more than twice that of the 1863. The result is that the 1863 Proof Cent is priced as a type coin, making it one of the most affordable dates in the series.

This generalization reverses for the Cameo and Deep Cameo Proofs, which are elusive versions, particularly in high grade. Deep Cameo Proofs can be considered extremely rare.

The finest examples certified by PCGS included a single PR67, 8 PR66CAMs, and a single PR65DCAM (the only DCAM graded by PCGS as of July 2012).

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Is That Really Thomas Jefferson?

Posted on July 20, 2012 by No Comments

1795 "Jefferson" Head Cent - PCGS VF25

The Jefferson Head Cents are sample coins produced outside the mint by independent businessman John Harper, then a saw-maker by trade, who proposed to supply coinage to the Mint under contract. Initailly, Harper approached the Mint with suggestions for improvements to their machinery, but he was treated poorly, so he decided to make his own press and dies to prove his methods. The “Jefferson Heads” are the result. Though they were made outside the Mint, collectors prize the Jefferson Cents highly and have included them among the regular Cents.

Harper intended to mimic the designs on 1795 Liberty Cap Cents, but his skill was as a machinist, not as a die-cutter. Thus, his attempts at replicating the designs, though admirable, were clearly different and off the mark. However, the purpose of the coins were simply to show that Harper could, indeed, produce coins. The differences did not escape the notice of collectors, who nick-named Harper’s Cents “Jefferson Heads” because of a vague similarity to the profile of Thomas Jefferson.

Collectors recognize three different Jefferson Head Cents die combinations: Sheldon NC-1, Sheldon NC-4, and Sheldon 80. Two different edge devices are known on the Sheldon NC-1. All Jefferson Heads share the same obverse die; Sheldon NC-1 has a different reverse than Sheldon NC-4 and Sheldon 80. Of the various varieties and sub-varieties, only the Sheldon 80 is collectible. All known examples are worn, and are often found with surface problems such as corrosion or cracking due to poor annealing (on those blanks that were cast). The finest example is a VF35 (PCGS estimated grade) in the American Numismatic Society collection. The finest collectible example is a single PCGS VF30.

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What’s A “Chop-Mark”?

Posted on July 19, 2012 by 2 Comments

1874-CC Chop-Marked Trade Dollar - PCGS MS64

A “chop mark” is a Chinese character or characters stamped into a coin by a merchant who is essentially validating the weight, authenticity, and value of a given coin. This facilitated the circulation of silver coins in the Orient, which was the intended market for U.S. Trade Dollars. Chop marks vary in size and shape, and a particular coin may show only one chop mark or it may be chop marked so often and so severely as to be almost mutilated. PCGS certifies chop-marked Trade Dollars because of the frequency with which they occur and because of high demand from collectors. One of the more challenging sets in the PCGS Set Registry is that for chop-marked Trade Dollars, which requires collectors to asemble a complete date and mintmark set of Trade Dollars – all with at least one chopmark!

The 1874-CC is among the more common of the chop-marked Trade Dollars, and it also has one of the highest rankings in the Condition Census, with two examples at the MS64 level (see the illustrated coin above).

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Highest Price Realized on Ebay for June 2012 was $39,000.00

Posted on July 18, 2012 by 2 Comments

1937-D Buffalo Nickel Image by: U.S._Coins

The coin that sold for the highest price in the month of June 2012 on eBay was a 1937-D  3-Legged Buffalo Nickel graded PCGS MS65. The auction ended on June 14, 2012. There were a total of 35 bids.

 The previous 5 sales for this same coin in PCGS MS65 condition have been in the $32,000 -$46,000 range, more or less. So not a bad price for coin of this caliber despite being sold in a regular eBay auction as opposed to being sold by a major auction house.

As a reminder, we post all the top prices realized for PCGS coins sold on eBay every month on PCGSCoinFacts. If you’re not a member yet, you need to try it out. Here’s an example of the previous 5 sales of this coin on


June-12 $39,000 MS65 PCGS eBay
May-12 $32,200 MS65 PCGS Heritage
Mar-12 $43,125 MS65 PCGS Heritage
Aug-11 $46,000 MS65 PCGS Stack’s/Bowers
Jun-11 $40,250 MS65 PCGS Heritage






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The Judd-73 Conundrum

Posted on July 18, 2012 by No Comments

Judd 73 Restrike - PCGS PR66

Judd-73 is an 1838-dated Pattern for a Half Dollar.  The obverse was designed by William Kneass; the reverse by Christian Gobrecht after Titian Peale.

According to some experts, this Judd number was struck as an Original in 1838, then restruck repeatedly from the early 1850s to the 1870s.  At some point, the reverse cracked, and the cracks became more severe and more extensive as additional coins were struck.  According to pattern researcher Saul Teichman, no Judd-73 is known without cracked dies, though the description of the example in the October 1989 Superior Sale includes the notation “Struck from uncracked dies.”  Certainly, the die states with the more extensive cracking are restrikes, but assuming no uncracked examples are known, at what point does Judd-73 go from being an Original to a Restrike?

One test is the weight of the coins.  Prior to February 21, 1853, the statutory weight of the half dollar was 206 grains; after that date, the weight was reduced to 192 grains.  The problem with this test is that it assumes that no restriking occurred between 1838 and 1853.

Another test is the number of reedings around the edge of the coin.  Originals are assumed to have 143 reeds, and Restrikes of the mid- to late-1850s should have 146 reeds, and later restrikes are expected to have 152 reeds.  As with the weight test, the reedings test has its flaws: some pieces with 143 edge reeds fall into a weight range between 190 and 200 grains.

This conundrum might be solved if the following data was recorded for each Judd-73: high-quality image; obverse/reverse orientation (by degrees); weight; number of edge reeds.

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