Rare Coins by Type – What We Recommend
Certified rare coins can offer balance to your core bullion holdings.
So a few rules to follow if you are new to this dynamic investing area. And 2 trading secrets!
So what does a model PCGS certified rare coin portfolio look like? Actually there are so many variations on this idea that the exact answer will not suit everyone, but my choices are a good place to begin especially if you are new to rare coin investment. To begin let me offer four reasons I believe everyone should at least consider placing a portion of their hard asset investment money into this specific area:
First the US paper dollar is vulnerable to uncontrolled government spending, worldwide political unrest, and liberal politics, all of which threaten its value and therefore your buying power. Certified rare coins have historically protected owners against this devaluation in paper money.
Second, the rare coin area is one of the few places left which offer complete privacy and favorable tax considerations.
Third, certified rare coins are still a relative secret when it comes to the public at large, so I believe past price appreciation is only a beginning.
Fourth, unlike the very volatile gold market these coins provide a financial blanket of protection and at the same time may offer a better night’s sleep. The bullion portion of your hard asset portfolio is very important but is simply a choice between the US Gold Eagle, the South African Krugerrand or other low premium bullion coins.
But what about the correct rare coin choices which provide diversification? We offer a few rules to make sure you place your rare coin investment money in areas with readable price history, good market depth, and prices which are affordable to as many investors as possible. These are not the most expensive or rarest coins available but they represent value, are blue chips in their own right, and make a wonderful beginning to the correct certified rare coin approach. As for price movements you will find that sometimes bullion coins will lead the way and sometimes rare coins take the lead so a little of both is a good bet.
WHICH ARE THE VERY BEST COINS?
Which coin should I buy for long-term investment and capital gains? That has to be the most asked question in this store over the past two decades. In fact no person knows for sure, but there are parameters, which will lead you in the right direction. Road signs, if you will, to follow in choosing the right PCGS certified rare coin. Such rules produce these “blue chip” choices that are the favorites of professionals and especially suited to new investors.
Are these rules of the investment road difficult? Absolutely not, and in many cases they are just common sense. But beware because some investors throw these simple rules to the wind. So here are a few guide lines to keep in mind which could dramatically increase your chance of profiting in the next rare coin boom.
THE RARITY VERSUS DEMAND SECRET
You would think that such things as rarity and price are pretty basic, and everyone would agree as to their importance when it comes to choosing the best coins. But just the opposite is true for a number of reasons. First, the investor should understand that rarity by itself is not the best way to approach investing. Rarity is good, but if there is no demand for a coin its rarity will be of little value. So it’s of paramount importance to link rarity with demand. Before you add a rare coin to your portfolio be sure it is popular. Some of the best investment coins may not be rare, but their popularity is so great that everyone wants an example. This can create an upward pressure on price and positive momentum is better sustained.
WHICH GRADE IS BEST?
Most investors know that all investment coins must be PCGS (The Professional Coin Grading Service) certified because this greatly enhances worldwide liquidity. Yes, there are other grading services, but PCGS is the leader. So if a friendly coin dealer tells you to consider other services show caution. Coins graded by The Professional Coin Grading Service are, on average, worth more when selling, and enjoy a wider market. So why settle for less? After all it’s your money and it’s an investment rule.
That being said, consider what makes grade or condition so important. All rare coins today are graded using the Sheldon Scale from 1 to 70. The higher the number the better the condition and the rarer the coin. As rarity and popularity increase, so does price. So the cornerstone of coin investing is relative condition. We are talking about how perfect the coin is in terms of marks or abrasions because desirability and rarity drive this market. Investors strive for coins in superb condition, and will pay for quality.
Now we know the better the condition the more money a coin is worth, but where do we draw the line as far as cost? Most investment coins fall between MS63 (Choice Uncirculated) and MS67 (Superb Uncirculated). The rule is to invest in the highest grade you can afford, but not get carried away. There must be a balance between the price of a coin and its condition. In smaller gold coins, for example, MS63 and MS64 grades seem appropriate, while larger $20 gold coins in grades of MS65 and MS66 are a better choice. In most silver coins, however, a grade of MS65 or MS66 represents good value relative.
INTERESTING STORIES ARE IMPORTANT
An investment coin with a story is always better than one without. Stories and the history behind them are important because they bring these real treasures to life. Not just for you, but for the next buyer of your coin. The more compelling the coin story the better your opportunity for profit. It’s like location in real estate. An interesting or historical fact that relates to your coin is like ocean front real estate. It creates demand and insures attention. This provides more bidders which may push prices higher.
WATCH PRICE HISTORY CAREFULLY
Price history, or what a rare coin sold for in the past, is important. Most rare coins today have accurate price charts that go back to 1986. Ask to see them before you invest. This rule should never be forgotten because it gives the buyer a great way to judge price and allows a reasonable guess as to where the coin is heading given another round of inflation.
ALWAYS USE MARKET CYCLES
Using market cycles to your advantage is probably your most powerful investing edge available today. And the price chart or history of any particular coin will tell you where in the cycle you are and provide clues as to decisions. It just makes sense that if a rare coin can be purchased for substantially less than it sold for in the last big price move that there is great potential for future price action.
People who develop a buying strategy are much better equipped to profit because they appreciate a long-term plan, which takes advantage of natural “up” and “down” markets. These types of folks make the best investors because they are not too concerned with the latest investment fad. They do their homework and stick with rare coins with a proven track record. A coin, which is rare today, will be rare tomorrow. Here is another rule to keep in mind: “Don’t wait to buy quality coins. Buy quality coins and wait.” Patience in this market is golden, and history has shown that the big money payoff comes to those who invest over the long term.
So can we guarantee a profit? Of course not, and CNI will be the first to say that past performance does not guarantee future profits. But we believe that the past performance of coins, just like stocks, is worth watching. It is a great indicator of many things, including where the public has put its money in the past. Such information can be insightful and valuable.
THE KEY IS LOOKING FOR VALUE
Price history is important in your judgment as to whether a coin represents value. Like stocks some rare coins today can be purchased for less than their old highs which indicates to us that a value buy should be considered. On the other hand there are coins which are trading on their highs, not that we would dismiss these possibilities, but we want to identify both sides of the spectrum and then balance your holdings. We are old time traders and suggest that value centers around blue chip certified coins which can be bought or sold for the right price.
And always follow The 50 Year Rule: This approach is powerful because it keeps the investor focused. Never invest in any rare coin which is not at least fifty years old because without an established track record the outcome becomes unpredictable.
CHOOSE COINS OF SIGNIFICANCE
It may sound funny but you would be surprised at how faddish rare coin investment can be if you don’t have the facts. Stay away from unproven trends and new certified coins with unproven records. Stick with the tried and true, remembering that what was rare and popular forty years ago will also make the grade forty years from now.
AND FINALLY MY TRADING SECRET
Building a real rare coin collection, something of value which will prove historically important and provide financial stability in addition to your bullion holdings requires patience. It also requires the ability to trade successfully especially if you have chosen a coin which does not fit into your developed plan or you have lost interest in an area or series.
If you have a bunch of “old stuff” with no investment design in place consider trading your way to investment success. Sometimes trading a poor rare coin choice for something with better potential makes sense and gets you on the right track.
The concept is to actively develop your certified rare coin position while moving toward improvement. I have traded my way into rare coins I would have never considered just ten years ago. And I can honestly say that most significant rare coin collections involve active trading of material when an advantage presents itself.
An additional plus is that most dealers will pay more for your old stock and sell you their better inventory for less because they realize it is just good business to develop committed rare coin buyers. It does not always make sense to trade but when an advantage presents itself this approach can be profitable and powerful at the same time.
The following list of 10 PCGS graded rare coins are a good start for someone new to rare coin investments. These choices will move you past the mistakes made in buying graded modern issues and start you on the right path to understanding the real world of rare coin investment.
As time passes, your rare coin library and knowledge will increase. And the fascinating field of rare coin study will grow to include earlier coinage including pre-civil war, territorial gold examples, patterns, and colonials.
We recommend purchasing rare coins graded by PCGS (The Professional Coin Grading Service). America’s Number One Grading Standard. You can learn more about PCGS with the PCGS Grading Process Video.
TEN IMPORTANT RARE COIN CHOICES FOR NEW COLLECTORS
1. The $20 Liberty gold piece holds a special place in rare coin collecting and investing. It has become iconic with those looking for rarity in a larger gold coin which also provides historical perspective. The example pictured is the 1904 Liberty gold piece graded PCGS MS-66 which always draws attention because early gold coins in extremely high grades are rarely encountered.
To understand where this amazing example should be placed relative to other mint state examples consider the following: any $20 Liberty gold coin graded MS-63 or higher is popular and scarce because the collecting base is large.
When you push the grading envelope, like in this example, the $20 Liberty in PCGS MS-66 is 25 times rarer than the same gold coin in PCGS MS-65. And PCGS has only graded 2 MS-67 examples since 1986.
So if you are looking for a superb combination of rarity and condition this example is a show stopper. The surfaces are immaculate, with total originality and beautiful color. Finally this coin is the perfect choice for the value investor having sold many times in the past for more than twice its price today. So in the rare coin investing cycle your timing might be perfect, just like the condition of this early gold coin.
PCGS Mint State 66 – 1904 $20 Liberty Gold Piece – SOLD
2. The Grant Memorial was struck in 1922 as a centenary souvenir of Ulysses S. Grant’s birth. There are actually two varieties – this being the first type (With Star – Mintage 4,256) – the second variety (No Star – Mintage 67,405) was created when the star was removed. The reverse of the coin shows Grant’s birthplace in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
The gold commemorative series is a popular and classic part of numismatic history. There are 9 one dollar gold pieces, two $2 1/2 dollar gold pieces and two virtually unattainable $50 gold pieces.
Any coin in the series graded MS-63 or higher is scarce. Coins graded MS-65 or higher are not often seen so this Grant With Star in MS-66 could easily be a highlight in your rare coin collection.
The really interesting part of the series however is that most of these coins were not well received when minted. Many were abused (it was common place to use smaller gold coins as part of hat pins). And when issues did not immediately sell out the mint melted what was not sold.
That is why today superb examples are seldom seen. This Grant With Star in PCGS MS-66 has absolutely superb, original surfaces with beautiful color. And considering its rarity and overall eye-appeal the cost is modest. Some would claim the entire series represents one of the great values in today’s rare coin world.
PCGS Mint State 66 – $1 Gold Piece – Grant With Star – SOLD
3. For the money you can’t beat a hand selected 1926 $2 ½ Sesquicentennial commemorative gold piece in PCGS MS64.
This coin celebrates the 150th anniversary of American independence and provides an unexpected premium. In 1989 it traded for $5000 so today’s price represents excellent value. And here are two more compelling reasons to make this gold coin part of your holdings.
First, an amazing 77% of the original mintage was melted!
Second, many of the remaining examples were mistreated making high grade coins difficult to find. Now consider that this coin was designed by John Sinnock who also designed the Roosevelt dime and the Franklin half dollar so its pedigree is tops.
PCGS Mint State 64 – $2 1/2 Sesquicentennial Gold – SOLD
4. The $20 Saint-Gaudens gold piece is one of America’s first choices when it comes to rarity and gold content, and being from the famous Wells Fargo Hoard places this rarity in a very special category.
President Teddy Roosevelt felt that inclusion of the motto “In God We Trust” would offend the Almighty and so by Presidential decree he left it off the first coins struck. The public was outraged and believed him to be an atheist so his position was quickly reversed, creating a famous story in rare coin investment.
Being part of the famous Wells Fargo Hoard places this coin in a class by itself because, as the story goes these coins had not seen the light of day since hidden away more than 100 years ago. Insiders believe for most of that time the coins were not stored in this country. All gold coins from this amazing discovery display the classic originality sought after by collectors and investors.
The surfaces are immaculate so if you are looking for a high grade example which comes from one of the most popular gold discoveries in the 20th Century consider this amazing example.
PCGS Mint State 66 – 1908 No Motto “Wells Fargo Gold” – $2750.00
5. The 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent in PCGS MS65 Red is a powerful investor’s coin, one which goes against the trend. Its price today approaches an all time high but the coin is so popular it does not matter! If you collected coins as a kid, this was the date and mint mark you could never find!
The initials VDB stand for the designer Victor David Brenner and were only included on a short run of cents in 1909. Now a classic 20th Century rarity, with a terrific price record this famous rare coin has it all and is a numismatic treasure.
This coin has always been a win-win situation, but there is a drawback: There is never more than one in stock and in some cases this investment coin is wait-listed so be patient.
PCGS Mint State 65 – 1909-S VDB Red – $SOLD
6. Another classic of the 20th Century is the 1921 Peace Dollar in PCGS MS65. When the Peace dollar replaced the Morgan dollar in 1921 the mint wanted to produce the series in high relief. A great idea, but in practice such relief was difficult to strike and bankers complained the coins did not stack well.
So in 1922 a lower relief was used making the 1921 High Relief Peace dollar a one year type and a powerful collector coin. This special silver dollar is not often seen in high grades.
Today’s price is a bargain considering it traded well above $5000.00 several times in the last two decades. Its designer Anthony de Francisci was an Italian immigrant who used his beautiful wife as a model for Miss Liberty.
PCGS Mint State 65 – 1921 Peace Dollar High Relief – $2500.00
7. If you purchase with the goal of completing a set you follow in the steps of successful investors. Sets in the rare coin business provide an extra punch of added value.
That is why I have included my favorite set of 20 coins: Called the Walking Liberty Short Set this collection contains 20 different half dollars from 1941 through 1947 in PCGS MS65.
The total number of possible sets would be limited to the lowest PCGS population date in the set which is the 1941-S amounting to something over 1000 coins. This combination is tough to beat. Read my report on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar including individual dates, mint marks and others reasons I recommend this undervalued opportunity.
PCGS Mint State 65 – Matched 20 Coin Short Set – $4335.00
8. The 1883 No Cents V Nickel in PCGS Proof-65 is another undervalued rare coin not often seen today. Called the Racketeer Nickel because the word Cents was initially left off the coin in 1883. The mint believed the Roman numeral V on the reverse would indicate the coin was a nickel to the public.
In fact a few enterprising promoters seized the opportunity by plating these coins gold and passing them off as a “new” $5 gold piece. The most famous of these stories comes from one Josh Tatum, a deaf mute who simply handed the gold plated coin to a merchant and waited for change. Later prosecuted, Mr. Tatum beat the case in court because he could not talk and therefore did not represent the coin as a gold piece. He made himself famous as well for the saying “Don’t Josh me…”.
PCGS Proof 65 – 1883 No Cents Nickel – SOLD
9. The interesting story behind the famous Wells Fargo Hoard of $20 1908 No Motto gold coins is about to be eclipsed by relative condition. In the normal course of events a twenty dollar gold piece in say MS 64 or MS 65 is a treasure when compared to the millions of coins produced between 1907 and 1933.
We were the first company chosen to sell the amazing PCGS MS 65 1908 No Motto Wells Fargo examples when they were first introduced to the marketplace. And because the first released coins were so original there was talk from the very beginning about higher grades.
The exciting PCGS MS 66 examples created more buzz and rumors of even higher grades floated around but actual coins remained elusive.
Ultra high grade US gold coins are always show stoppers because they are seldom seen or traded. And to say this PCGS MS 67 1908 No Motto is one of the most beautiful coins I have ever seen really does not do this rare coin justice. The surfaces are virtually perfect and the color is radiant. So if you are looking for something in the extreme high end of the grading scale this beauty will fit the bill nicely. We have only handled about 15 examples of this coin in PCGS MS 67 in 20 years.
PCGS Mint State 67 – 1908 $20 No Motto “Wells Fargo Gold” – SOLD
10. The Walking Liberty Half Dollar Series is a modern design classic which has become more appreciated and beautiful over the years. A proof example is one of the first rare coins I purchased as a lad so it’s hard to believe it has been more than 60 years since the series was replaced with the Franklin Half Dollar.
While the Walking Liberty series was struck from 1916 through 1947 the US Mint only struck proof examples of the Walking Liberty Half in 7 years (1936 through 1942), and only at the Philadelphia Mint.
In my opinion Walking Liberty Half Dollars in superb proof condition are overlooked and remain undervalued today. Finding blast white examples in PCGS Proof 66 grade is difficult even if you visit coin shows on a regular basis. And the best part is that prices for these super grades are still relatively inexpensive.
And that is why I jumped at the chance to purchase this superb set of 4 PCGS Proof 66 Walking Liberty Half Dollars. All coins in this set are hand selected by a long time friend who was a dedicated collector and only considered the finest examples.
Each is blast white and a headlight as they say in the rare coin business.
The only reason I have the 4 coins is because he wanted to trade for an early dollar he just could not live without. So if you are looking for truly superb quality in a matched set consider these 4 proofs, something you won’t see again for a long time.
PCGS 66 – Set of 4 Proof Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Keep in mind that not all of these PCGS certified rare coins are available and prices can change quickly because of low populations and strong collector or investor demand. I also have long-term price graphs which show excellent entry pricing and good timing as well. For now however I would suggest you call me (1-800-225-7531) with additional questions.
This will give me an opportunity to provide straight-forward answers including a few curves in the road for even the best rare coin choices involve some risk. The call is free and the discussion will further explain why holding these significant coins have historically protected wealth especially during a currency or inflationary crisis. Then you decide.
California Numismatic Investments
P.S. I appreciate how busy everyone is these days so I have added my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want questions answered in writing. If you prefer a call-back email your name and number and perhaps suggest a convenient time. There is no obligation and developing this important investment area is also fun. Thanks for reading.