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NumisMedia Monthly


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detailing specific areas
of numismatics for dealers,
collectors, and investors
of United States Rare Coins

August 2014

Finding the Next Million Dollar Coin

       We all know the story of the missing 1913 Liberty Head Nickel; lost in a car crash only to be found years later then certified and ultimately sold for over $3 million in a Heritage Auction in early 2013. The 1804 Dollar is called the “King” of all U.S. coins for good reason; it has logged more media attention than any other coin in history. Include the 1894 S Barber Dime in this trio and it goes without saying that these are three of the most recognizable million dollar coins. The mystery, the pedigrees, and the desire to own one of these rarities has challenged numismatists for many decades.

       But how do you identify a future million dollar coin, or for that matter, any rarities that have the opportunity to increase in value in multiples of their current FMV? Obviously, low mintage is a good start, but that is not the most essential factor in determining potential returns. Low population and infrequent availability are near the top of the list of requirements for future advancement.

       Take for example the 1876 CC Twenty Cent. This is a classic rarity that is very popular. The original mintage of this date was 10,000 coins, but the majority were melted and not released. Moreover, there are only 23 coins certified by PCGS and NGC combined in all grades. The highest grade is MS66 with just two coins certified. The current FMV is $734,500 in this top grade. The NGC census report does not list any coins certified in this grade.

       The MS64 and MS65 grades of the 1876 CC Twenty Cent are the most likely to become available in the market in the near future. The MS64 has a total of 8 coins certified by both grading services and the FMV has risen over $250,000 in seven years. In August 2007 the FMV was $212,500 and today it is $468,750. The MS65 has a combined population of only 7 coins and it has increased $312,500 in seven years to today’s FMV of $562,500.

1876 CC Twenty Cent PCGS MS64

1876-CC 20C MS66 PCGS sold for $460,000 in Heritage Auctions CSNS U.S. Coin Sale in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 30, 2009

       The last reported sale of an MS66 was in a Heritage Auction in 2009 at $460,000. The latest sale of an MS65 was in a Stack’s Bowers Sale in early 2013 at $564,000, the market has basically doubled in five years from the 2009 FMV of $281,250. Presumably, one of the MS66 coins could double as well, commanding something over $900,000 if offered in one of today’s major auctions. Of course, this also depends quite heavily on the competition for a coin of this stature. That we will leave to those advanced collectors who want the best that their money can buy.

       To put our comparison in proper perspective we listed the FMV for the three known rarities we previously mentioned. We selected the PR64 grade for all three coins and included the FMV from August 2007 versus today’s FMV. We also listed the total coins certified in all grades by PCGS and NGC. Bear in mind that some of these coins could have been submitted to both grading services.
Date/DenominationFMV August 2007FMV August 2014Total Certified
1913 Liberty Head Nickel$2,500,000$3,993,7505
1894 S Barber Dime$625,000$1,750,0009
1804 Silver Dollar$3,750,000$4,437,50012

       With such a small quantity of coins available within these three dates, the grade is not the important element; it is the availability. When any of these coins are on the market, the buyers will show up. As you can see, these coins have been a good investment over the years and they should continue to see great demand when they appear for sale.

       This year’s World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois will feature sales from Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries as both are the Official Auctioneers of this major event. The true beneficiaries of these tremendous auctions will certainly be those bidders taking the time to study their wonderful catalogues. With so many rarities in both sales there are bound to be some new record prices achieved and certainly the driving force for updated prices. Quite possibly we will see a few more million dollar coins. Below is a partial list of potential highlights from these two extraordinary auction houses.

Heritage Auctions
Date/DenominationGradeCurrent FMV
1793 Chain Cent AMERICAPCGS MS64 BN CAC$325,000
1796 Draped Bust DimePCGS MS68 CACN/A
1927 S Standing Liberty QuarterPCGS MS66 FH$243,750
1797 Bust Half DollarPCGS MS65+ CAC$587,500
1870 Seated DollarPCGS MS66$83,130
1859 $2 ½ GoldNGC PR64 CameoN/A
1879 $4 Gold Flowing HairNGC PR60$118,750
1795 $10 Gold 13 LeavesPCGS MS65$1,040,000
1854 O $20 GoldPCGS AU50$412,500
1856 O $20 GoldPCGS AU53$487,500
1861 $20 Gold PaquetPCGS MS61N/A
1866 S $20 Gold No MottoNGC MS62$325,000

Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Date/DenominationGradeCurrent FMV
1793 Wreath Cent Lettered EdgePCGS MS64 BN CAC$256,250
1828 Bust Quarter 25/50CPCGS MS63N/A
1802 Bust DollarNGC MS65$243,750
1804 Bust Dollar Class IIINGC PR55$2,437,500
1796 $2 ½ Gold No StarsPCGS XF45$125,000
1804 $2 ½ Gold 13 Star ReversePCGS AU50$143,000
1836 $2 ½ Gold ClassicPCGS PR64 Cameo CAC$206,250
1797/5 $5 Gold NGC MS61$193,750
1797 $10 Gold Small EagleNGC AU58$129,380
1852 O $20 GoldPCGS MS62$58,500

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