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Small US Gold Coins

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You are venturing out from the halls of bullion land in through the walls of numisville.
Indeed.

Although gold half eagles started in the 1700s, I consider 1840 to be the true starting year for this series, when the diameter was set to 21.6 mm. Since I am trying to get one coin in each decade, I am now looking for coins in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s--just 3 more coins, but they will come at a higher premium, even if I settle for VF or XF graded coins.

Trying to get all mint marks in this series is even more challenging, with coins from many old mints like New Orleans, Charlotte, Carson City, and Dahlonega (it is interesting how the D mint mark was used for two different cities). I will leave that goal to the more ambitious collectors.
 

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One lucky bidder on eBay got a 2013 5-Star Generals coin at MS70 for $490 (with $5.95 shipping), about a week ago.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2013-P-5-St...993147?hash=item3ad8d5cbbb:g:FWcAAOSwImRYgq89

Granted, this coin was knocked from the 2nd place spot in the mintage rankings by the 2016 NPS coin, but its mintage is only a few hundred higher than the 1997 JR coin and it was easily going for $600 less than a year ago.

I will be looking for this coin to stabilize somewhere around this price, but maybe closer to the mid-500s.
I just lost an auction of the 2013-P Generals MS70 coin by being overbid at $442, the winning bid.

I also lost another auction of an MS70 2013-P and a PF70 2013-W by being overbid at $762, with a winning bid of $780. With the PF70 coin being valued at about $335, this brings the effective price of the MS70 coin to $445.

My, has the value of this coin gone down greatly! Two years ago, $490 was considered a bargain price, but now it has trouble being sold at a Buy It Now price of $460.

No wonder, as it went down in the mintage rankings from #2 in 2016, to #3 in 2017, to #5 in 2019.

Speak of the devil...I found auctions for both of these coins over the weekend and won both of them!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2016-W-US-G...975145?hash=item2cbcda29a9:g:s1IAAOSwSlBY4Vd~

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2015-W-US-G...972051?hash=item2cbcda1d93:g:qR8AAOSwU8hY4VbB


Due to the unusual timing of these auctions (both ending on an afternoon, instead of an evening), I think there were fewer bidders than usual, resulting in lower auction prices. The prices with shipping for the two coins were 439 for the Mark Twain coin and 399 for the US Marshals coin, both graded at MS70, which are both significantly lower than recent sale prices for both coins.

The moral of the story is that auction prices tend to be lower than "buy it now" prices. In these examples, the difference in price for each coin was substantial. I enjoyed an "auction discount" of $50+ for the US Marshals coin and $150+ for the Mark Twain coin (readers of my posts may have noticed my anxiety over failing to buy this coin at a good price...at last, this anxiety has been dispelled!).

It seems that the "auction discount" tends to be larger for less well-known coins. In these cases, the scarcity of both of these coins was probably not recognized by casual bidders, but more informed buyers (aware of the low mintage of these coins) were willing to shell out more money for these coins with the "buy it now" method.
I will now venture to say that the 2016-W Mark Twain and the 2013-P MS70s are neck-and-neck in market value, at about $445 now. The prices of both coins are now commensurate with their mintage, which are nearly the same.

I think this price point of $445 for both coins will hold pretty well going forward, with price now normalized to mintage.
 

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I just won an auction!

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2018-W-US-...m43663.l10137&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true


This is the 2018-W Breast Cancer $5 gold coin, graded at MS70. Only 4477 of these coins were minted, which makes it #2 in the low-mintage list.

Despite beating the 2016-W National Park coin by more than 500 coins in low mintage, the coin surprisingly ran completely out of energy in the secondary market. On the other hand, the Breast Cancer coin never held the #1 spot, unlike the National Park coin, which held the #1 spot for one year before falling to #3 this year.

Honestly, judging by NGC MS70 prices over the last 3 months, I expected the bidding to reach the upper 300s, and I set a higher maximum bid to anticipate this situation. But my initial bid of 338--a $100 discount below the original issue price plus grading fees--stood as the highest bid in the end!

I should note that the 2016-W Mark Twain coin performed far better on the secondary market, even during the first few months after ending sales, staying clean above $425 in price. It is a classic collector's coin, with a theme and design that many will appreciate for years. The breast cancer theme is also popular, but not in the same way for the typical coin collector. The motivation for buying the coin in the first place probably arose from the desire to help the cause much more so than the actual collector value of the coin. On the secondary market, none of the money goes toward the cause, so the merits of the coin itself are more important.

I suspect that the 85% gold composition has a serious negative impact on secondary market prices for this coin, but I believe the negative impact is only temporary. The smaller gold content lowers the melt value by only about $32, out of $313, but the mintage is significantly lower than the National Park and Jackie Robinson coins. Just like the price of the 2013-P Generals coin underwent a strong negative adjustment in price due to relative mintage over the last 2 years, I think the price of the 2018-W Breast Cancer coin will undergo a strong positive adjustment in price due to relative mintage going forward.
 
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savvydon

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I just won an auction!

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2018-W-US-...m43663.l10137&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true


This is the 2018-W Breast Cancer $5 gold coin, graded at MS70. Only 4477 of these coins were minted, which makes it #2 in the low-mintage list.

Despite beating the 2016-W National Park coin by more than 500 coins in low mintage, the coin surprisingly ran completely out of energy in the secondary market. On the other hand, the Breast Cancer coin never held the #1 spot, unlike the National Park coin, which held the #1 spot for one year before falling to #3 this year.

Honestly, judging by NGC MS70 prices over the last 3 months, I expected the bidding to reach the upper 300s, and I set a higher maximum bid to anticipate this situation. But my initial bid of 338--a $100 discount below the original issue price plus grading fees--stood as the highest bid in the end!

I should note that the 2016-W Mark Twain coin performed far better on the secondary market, even during the first few months after ending sales, staying clean above $425 in price. It is a classic collector's coin, with a theme and design that many will appreciate for years. The breast cancer theme is also popular, but not in the same way for the typical coin collector. The motivation for buying the coin in the first place probably arose from the desire to help the cause much more so than the actual collector value of the coin. On the secondary market, none of the money goes toward the cause, so the merits of the coin itself are more important.

I suspect that the 85% gold composition has a serious negative impact on secondary market prices for this coin, but I believe the negative impact is only temporary. The smaller gold content lowers the melt value by only about $32, out of $313, but the mintage is significantly lower than the National Park and Jackie Robinson coins. Just like the price of the 2013-P Generals coin underwent a strong negative adjustment in price due to relative mintage over the last 2 years, I think the price of the 2018-W Breast Cancer coin will undergo a strong positive adjustment in price due to relative mintage going forward.
Kind of depends on what the mint does going forward, which up until now has proven absolutely impossible to predict. The coin may appreciate numismatically, and it may not. Same with the bullion value. Most important thing is that you like the coin. Then, come what may, you will still be happy with its acquisition.

FWIW, You have a slabbed gold coin in MS70 which will be worth bullion value of what you paid for it when gold is just north of $1500/oz. If I had to take a guess, I would say we will get there reasonably soon. Nice snag.
 

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Kind of depends on what the mint does going forward, which up until now has proven absolutely impossible to predict. The coin may appreciate numismatically, and it may not. Same with the bullion value. Most important thing is that you like the coin. Then, come what may, you will still be happy with its acquisition.

FWIW, You have a slabbed gold coin in MS70 which will be worth bullion value of what you paid for it when gold is just north of $1500/oz. If I had to take a guess, I would say we will get there reasonably soon. Nice snag.
Indeed.

Price prediction accuracy aside, there does seem to be a pattern based on mintage, established over the last 3 years. The National Park coin briefly held the #1 low mintage spot for about one year and enjoyed prices in the range from $900 to $600 during that time. After losing the #1 spot to Boys Town, prices were still solid in the $550 to $650 range, and now as the #3 coin is still selling in the $475 to $575 range.

The Breast Cancer coin is a clear #2, with a solid 600-coin cushion below National Park, but it is lucky to sell above $450, with recent sales going below $400. This coin never enjoyed prices above $550. Even the clad half dollar, I daresay, hits prices not far below its 85% gold counterpart these days (at 11k mintage, it is the key within its own series by a big margin).

The key difference between National Park and Breast Cancer is that National Park once held the #1 spot. After being kicked down to #3, it is still a winner. On the other hand, Breast Cancer never held the #1 spot, and it is now a loser (relative to the original Mint price) even after knocking National Park from the #2 spot.

This Breast Cancer coin is a very special example, being the only 85% gold coin in the entire series, and the only one with its distinctive color. I think it was a positive selling point in Mint sales only, but I think it has become a negative selling point in secondary sales. But low secondary sales lead to buying opportunities for new buyers like myself, and the rarity of the coin will always remain.

The one factor under a coin collector's control, though, is the maximum bid in an eBay auction. If the collector can accurately assess the current value of the coin and underbid that value by a significant margin, while still winning the auction, he can come out ahead.

I was close to winning an auction of an 1852 $5 gold, but I decided that one auction win was enough, and I didn't push the bidding any higher. The collector who bid $433 on this AU 53 coin got a good deal, though.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1852-5-Gol...m43663.l10137&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true
 
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I just won an auction!

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2018-W-US-...m43663.l10137&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true


This is the 2018-W Breast Cancer $5 gold coin, graded at MS70. Only 4477 of these coins were minted, which makes it #2 in the low-mintage list.
Here are my pictures of the coin:

20190316_233914.jpg 20190316_233938.jpg


I feel very good about my purchase of this coin, in being able to avoid paying the full issue price plus grading fees. I am sure the timing of my purchase was a great factor in reaching that price.


Now I will show you my biggest purchase of a $5 gold coin ever...this 1843 half eagle in AU55 condition:

20190316_233335.jpg 20190316_233356.jpg


I was able to buy this coin on eBay for $520, which I do not consider a great price, but just a very reasonable price. I would have been happy with a coin of the same year in XF45 condition, but I realized that these often go for prices very close to AU coins. The PCGS price record shows AU55 coins selling in the range of $500 to $570, AU53 and AU50 in the range of $430 to $600, and XF45 and XF40 in the range of $390 to $500.

But the main deciding factor for my purchase was the 8% eBay Bucks promotion, which earned me $41.60 eBay bucks, bringing my effective price down to $478.40 (assuming that I remember to use the eBay Bucks before they expire). My best offer price of $520 was $15 below the tag price of $535, but this was brought down from an initial tag price of $600 (a price more in line with typical Buy it Now prices on eBay).

I believe the coin was graded accurately at AU55. Although the coin lacks the luster that some other AU half eagles have, the lack of major defects on the coin is a definite plus (I have another AU55 half eagle with brighter luster, but with bigger defects). Even without the eBay Bucks, I was able to reach a price more in line with AU53 than AU55.

Most importantly, I was able to get my hands on a Liberty gold half eagle from the 1840s, which is the first decade of half eagles of this size and composition. Now I only need to get one each from the 1850s and 1860s, to complete this part of my collection.
 

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Recently, I have taken a close look at my inventory of all the gold coins I purchased over the last few years.

Almost all of them are of the $5 gold coin size, the lone exception being the Betty Ford First Spouse gold coin I bought from the Mint.

The 6 National Park gold unc coins I bought quickly rose to staggering price levels near the end of year 2016 (which saw prices of $900 for MS70 coins), but those prices slid downward to $500 after collectors realized that the mintage record was broken by newer issues. There is still a significant price advantage for MS70 coins as compared to raw coins, and I think these coins are still winners by a small margin.

With the help of the gold bull market we are now witnessing, I think these coins will become more profitable, as I take my time to organize them and send some of them in for grading. At some point, I will start listing a few of the graded gold coins on eBay, to supplement my other coin sales.