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NumisMedia Monthly Article Archive

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

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NumisMedia Monthly

May 2017

Evaluating Rare $10 Liberty Gold

       How do you put a fixed value on a coin in a fluid market? The answer is simple; you can't. Dealer buy and sell prices, auction prices realized, teletype sales, and bullion values for those coins that are considered generic and influenced by Gold, Silver, and Platinum can be used to determine current prices for U.S. coins. When we put a value on a coin it is from the best information available at the time.

       One of the easiest coins to evaluate is the MS65 1881 S Morgan Dollar. NumisMedia currently lists the FMV for the MS65 at $163. To illustrate our point of value we used the Heritage auction archive. They sold no less than ten MS65 coins at auction in the month of April; PCGS and NGC coins which brought anywhere from $104 to $199. The average appeared to be $129. But are these wholesale prices or retail, or somewhere in-between?

1873 $10 Gold Closed 3 AU58 NGC

1873 $10 Gold Closed 3 AU58 NGC sold for $49,350 at the Heritage Auctions FUN Show U.S. Coins Signature Sale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 4-9, 2017

       Many years ago we would use dealer bid prices as a bottom value for the general population of coins. This worked well as long as dealers maintained their bids at appropriate levels for the true value of a coin; nowadays, not so much. Since so much of the coin market is based on sight seen trading, most dealers only put up competitive bids on the core 5% of the market that they know is easily traded within a small percentage of these levels, thus limiting their downside risk. What about the rest of the market and more importantly rare coins? Many of the bids dealers see on the teletype systems are a fraction of a coin's true value. Below are several examples of coins where the highest visible bids are nowhere near the value of the coins.

       The $10 Gold Liberty series contains nearly 200 different dates and mint marks which make it difficult to collect as a set. In addition, there is a rather large group of dates that are extremely rare. Whether it is from a low original mintage, melting by the government, or just plain attrition, these coins not only don't trade very often, they simply are not available in dealer inventories. When they come up at auction, you can bet they will bring a premium. Advanced collectors and dealers are always on the lookout for the key date $10 Gold Liberty coins, ready to obtain any and all of them no matter what the grade.

       We have selected five $10 Gold Liberty dates that are very difficult to locate and will usually command a very strong premium when offered for sale at auction. The 1863 had an original mintage of just 1,248. The highest grade listed with a NumisMedia FMV is MS63 with a value of $77,350. In the last three years we have seen at least four coins sell from $42,000 to $49,000 in XF to AU53. Most importantly, we could not find a single current dealer bid on any system.

       Next is the 1873 where we have AU58 as the highest grade with a listed FMV of $39,980. In the last three years we have monitored eight trades in grades XF40 to AU58 with a price range of $12,750 to $55,000. There are only 37 coins certified by PCGS and NGC in grades XF40 through AU58. We did find bids for the AU58 but they were well under $8,000 which is a far cry from the current FMV of $39,980.

       The 1875 is a well-known rarity, with just 100 coins minted, the highest grade certified is an AU55 by NGC; it has an FMV of $168,750, but if one becomes available it will surely test a much higher price. There are only 11 coins certified by NGC and PCGS combined in grades XF40 through AU55. The only coin we have seen trade over the last three years is an AU50 coin which sold for $211,500 in a Heritage sale. The fact that the FMV has not moved up much over the last few years is mainly due to a lack of trades or trading information. The actual highest bid we could find was just over $100,000 for an AU53 coin which we have an FMV listed at $159,250.

       The 1876 $10 Gold Liberty is another low mintage issue with 732 coins. Its highest certified grade is an MS60 by PCGS and an MS61 Prooflike by NGC; however we have no listed information of this coin trading over the last two decades. There are a total of 49 coins certified in grades XF40 through AU58; the AU58 has a current FMV of $54,690. We have records of at least 11 trades in XF40 to AU58 over the last three years with prices ranging from $7,900 to $70,500 for an AU58 CAC coin. Yet the highest active bids found were about 10% of the FMV.

       The 1883 O had a mintage of 800 coins. This date has just two coins certified in MS61, one at each service, with no other mint state coins certified. In fact, there are only 50 coins certified in all grades from G4 through AU58. This is definitely a tough coin to acquire. We show just four trades over the last three years, with two of the three AU58 NGC coins, selling between $70,000 and $82,000. And yet, the highest bids found in AU58 are just over $35,000.

       There are other dates in the $10 Gold series that could have been used above, for example the 1858, 1859 O, 1860 S, 1864 S, 1867 S, 1868 S, and 1871 S. We also did not list any Carson City $10 Gold, most of which are extremely rare and popular and have been discussed at length in past articles.

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