Earlier this month Doug Winter penned an article about "Trophy" gold coins. Here are some of my favorites. -Editor
I define a “Trophy Coin” as one which suitably combines rarity, appearance, and a great story in one neat package. Trophy coins aren’t necessarily the rarest pieces within a
specific series. As an example, a 1907 High Relief is far from the rarest issue in the St. Gaudens series, yet for most collectors it is a Trophy Coin while a great rarity
like a 1921 Saint in MS63 (and above) is considered more of a specialist’s issue. Trophy coins, because of their strong multiple levels of demand, tend to be fully valued in
regards to other coins. You’ll never read an article by me espousing how an MS64 High Relief is undervalued. But I know that a nice MS64 High Relief on my website will sell more
quickly than many rarer issues which don’t have Trophy Coin status.
This article deals with gold Trophy Coins. By their very nature, trophy coins are expensive and this article will seem elitist, but if your coin budget is a few thousand
dollars per issue, you just aren’t going to be a player in the Trophy coin market.
In addition to a brief discussion about each trophy coin, I’m going to include the “pitch” which makes these coins so unique and which gives them multiple levels of demand.
1795 Small Eagle Half Eagle
The Pitch: First year of issue, and along with the similarly dated eagle, the first American gold coin.
I think that there would be very little argument with placing the 1795 half eagle on any Trophy Coin list. Who wouldn’t want to own a good-looking example of this historic
issue? And the beauty of the 1795 Small Eagle half eagle is that it is available enough in better-than-average grades and it isn’t wildly expensive.
The level of demand for this coin has always been strong but I have noted an even greater demand in the past decade. Type collectors have always wanted a nice 1795 half eagle
but now there is competition from other collectors as well. I wouldn’t necessarily regard just any 1795 small eagle as a Trophy Coin (even a nice EF, while something that I would
personally be thrilled to buy for inventory, isn’t a true trophy). A higher grade example (in this case MS63 or above) with original color and choice surfaces would be a great
addition to any Trophy Coin set.
I expect a coin like a 1795 half eagle to show excellent price appreciation in the coming years. These are the Old Masters of American coins, if you will, and while they are
not as faddish as more modern issues, they have the core fundamentals which any issue needs for future appreciation.
1861-D Gold Dollar
The Pitch: The only gold coin which can be positively attributed to Confederate manufacture. A coin which every Southerner should own!
The 1861-D is clearly the most desirable gold dollar and a strong case can be made for calling it the single most coveted issue from any southern branch mint. It has many
things going for it: genuine rarity (fewer than 100 are known from a mintage estimated to be in the 750-1000 range), unique appearance, compelling backstory (struck by the
Confederate forces after the mint had been seized from the Union forces), and multiple levels of collector demand.
The 1861-D dollar has become extremely popular in recent years and it now trades in the $40,000-50,000+ range for a decent example. I still like the growth potential for this
issue, and it is possibly the best “investment” of any coin on this list due to its unusual co-status as collector coin and trophy coin.
I didn't think to seek out one of these for my U.S. Civil War numismatics collection, but it would have been a great addition. These have gotten pricey. What would the mint
workers think of their handiwork today? -Editor
1915-S Panama-Pacific Octagonal $50.00
The Pitch: The biggest coin, size-wise, to be struck at the U.S. mint. Big, beautiful and, in the case of the octagonal design, highly unusual appearance.
The Pitch: The biggest coin, size-wise, to be struck at the U.S. mint. Big, beautiful and, in the case of the octagonal design, showing a highly unusual appearance.
If you sit and think about it, the Pan-Pac Octagonal is a gimmick coin. It's huge, it's eight-sided, and even by 1915 standards, and its mintage of 645 is presumptuous
at best. That said, it is the Mac Daddy of all Trophy Coins, and it is a coin that every rich collector or investor can’t resist.
Even someone like me, who doesn’t care for gold commemoratives, loves the Pan-Pac Octagonal. I realize that the Round $50 is considerably scarcer, especially in Gem, but the
Octagonal is so, well, odd. I love the massiveness of this coin and the way that even encased in a PCGS holder, it feels like a little brick of gold. I love the Robert Aitken
design. And, of course, I love that crazy, crazy shape.
To read the complete article, see:
Ten Trophy Gold Coins and Their Pitches
Wayne Homren, Editor
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