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Investing in Coins

Box of Twenty - The Idea

Several years ago a well known professional coin dealer proposed the idea of putting together a Box of Twenty key coins as vehicle for good potential in the future. Twenty coins spread over different series are diversified enough so that if one does not perform well, the others can make up the difference. It’s well known that not all rare coins appreciate in value at the same time. Some remain dormant, some depreciate in value, some increase modestly, and some rocket into the stratosphere. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew the rockets in advance? Since we only know them in retrospect, it makes sense to choose a group of pieces that are fundamentally or conditionally rare so that any downside risk is outweighed by the upward movement of a few of the superstars in the group. Now is an excellent time to compile your Box of Twenty.

A fundamentally rare coin is one that had a very limited mintage. All regularly issued business strike and proof coins with mintages under 10,000 pieces are fundamentally rare in any condition obtainable. This category includes all early gold and silver coinage as well as some copper and nickel pieces. For example all of the quarter eagles of 1796 to 1807 are in this category. The largest mintage was in 1807 with 6,812 pieces. Both PCGS and NGC have certified 254 pieces in all grades, and these numbers do not account for crossovers or resubmissions. Obviously no more than 254 collectors could have one of these certified coins, making them always in demand. Yet mintages of other years are significantly lower. The next highest, 1804, is less than half at 3,327. Both services have 147 combined including both 13-Star and 14-Star reverses. All early date quarter eagles are fundamentally rare and would make an excellent choice for a box of twenty.

A conditionally rare coin is one that has a large mintage but saw much circulation and is common in circulated grades but rare in uncirculated or almost uncirculated condition. An example is the 1861 half eagle. It had a mintage of 688,084, making it a fairly common date. In circulated grades it retails for less than $600. Yet in Mint State 65 it lists for $37,050 and in MS66 a whopping $71,500. Clearly upper mint state grades of this coin are desirable because they are conditionally rare. NGC has certified 1456 in total but only 8 in MS65 and 2 in MS66. PCGS has 715 in total with 7 in MS65 and 1 in MS66. While these examples are sufficient to make the point, there are numerous other examples one could choose.

Some coins appreciate slowly in value and others jump up quickly. For example, the 1860-O silver dollar increased from $5,560 to $6,940 since July 2005; however, if we look at the 1860-O in MS65, we see an increase from $16,880 to $35,930 in that same period of time.

The foregoing are isolated examples of the kinds of changes in value that quality selected coins can undergo over time, and these examples are taken only over the past five years. A box of twenty well chosen pieces held over time will yield some spectacular results, and the time to begin with your twenty might never be better than it is now.

The Box of Twenty Proof Coins

Proof coins are specially manufactured pieces that were originally made for the designer to check on the correctness of the design. They are usually given two or more strikes from the dies to bring up the design more sharply than on regular production coins. They are struck on proof dies that are specially prepared to make proof coins. Prior to the modern era, most proof coins usually had very limited mintages and are fundamentally rare, especially in mint state condition. This box of twenty consists exclusively of proof coins of various different denominations found in our inventory or archives. Included are a colonial piece, a half-cent, a five cent, a quarter dollar, four silver dollars, a gold dollar, two quarter eagles, a three dollar piece, three half eagles, two eagles, and three double eagles.



The colonial coin is the 1783 Washington and Independence in PF62 BN CAC. Only 3 to 5 specimens are known, so all are rare. The piece is a cent sized token that was in the collections of Virgil Brand and John Ford.



The half-cent is from 1833 and is in PF64 BN condition. It has the Eliasberg Collection as its provenance. The coin had an original mintage of 25-35 pieces and is rare in all grades.



The 1897 Proof Liberty Nickel had a mintage of 1,938. This pristine coin is tied for finest at both PCGS and NGC. Designed by Charles Barber, it is a late example of the Type 2 variety, with CENTS.



The quarter dollar is a Liberty Seated type of 1856 that was designed by Christian Gobrecht. It is in PF63 condition and comes with a CAC sticker. It had an original mintage of 40-50 and is rare in all grades.



The first silver dollar is a Trade Dollar, which was made for export to China. It is dated 1875 and is in PF66 condition. With an original mintage of 700, the coin is fundamentally rare. Trade dollars were designed by William Barber contained 420 grains of .900 silver. The regular dollar of the time contained 412.5 grains of silver.



The 1836 Gobrecht Dollar is technically speaking a pattern coin. The designer’s name appears on the base, and the coin has a plain edge. It is graded PF62. Only 30 to 40 pieces are known.



Liberty Seated dollars were made during the Civil War. The 1862 toned proof is graded PF65. It had an original mintage of 550, which makes it rare in all conditions.



The proof 1895 Morgan dollar is known as the King of the Morgan Dollars. Since there were no 1895 Philadelphia dollar coins made, this proof piece is necessary to complete a set. Only 880 proofs were struck.



Another Civil War dated proof is the 1861 gold dollar in PF65 condition. Only 25 to 30 pieces remain in all conditions. James Longacre designed the piece using his Indian Princess motif.



A curious but long lasting denomination was the quarter eagle. The Liberty Head motif was designed by Christian Gobrecht. The 1888 specimen is graded PF63 UCAM and had an original mintage of only 97.



The Indian Head motif was used later by Bela Lyon Pratt. His 1914 quarter eagle, which is incused and made use of a realistic looking Indian brave, is graded PF64. It has a matte proof finish and an original mintage of 117.



The three-dollar piece is represented by an 1886 example in PF62 CAM with a CAC sticker. Like the gold dollar, it was designed by James B. Longacre. It had an original mintage of only 142 and is rare in all conditions.



The half eagle has a Civil War date of 1862 and is in PF65* CAMEO condition. It was designed by Christian Gobrecht and had an original mintage of only 35.



The Type 2 half eagle added the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to the reverse. The 1907 piece is in PF63 condition. Only 92 proofs were made for this last-year-of-type coin.



The third type half eagle was the Indian Head motif designed by Bela Lyon Pratt. It uses a realistic Indian brave as its motif and was incused. The 1912 coin is graded PF67. It had a mintage of 144.



The eagle is represented by two pieces. The first, the Liberty Head motif of Christian Gobrecht, is an 1898 PF65 UCAM piece. It had an original mintage of only 67 pieces and is rare in all conditions. It is a Type 2 coin since the motto has been added to the reverse.



The second eagle is an Indian Head motif designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It is one of 83 pieces that were minted in 1912. The coin is graded PF66 and shows an Indian Head obverse and a majestic standing eagle for its reverse.



There are three double eagle coins in this box of proofs. The first is a Liberty Head motif from 1883. It is graded PF64 UCAM, and it is rare in all grades with an original mintage of only 92. Designed by James B. Longacre, the coin’s reverse used the double ribbon to signify the new denomination.



The High Relief 1907 PF64 double eagle was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It is considered by many to be America’s most beautiful coin. While the actual proof mintage is unknown, NGC has certified 141 in all grades. PGCS does not certify High Relief double eagles in proof condition.



In 1907, Saint-Gaudens’ design was modified by Charles Barber. The new coin had Arabic numerals for the date, a flat relief, and in 1908 a motto added. The 1911 PF66 double eagle had an original mintage of 100. It is rare in all conditions.



US Rare Coin Investments 2003 - 2015 U.S. Rare Coin Investments
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