Rare Coins – What We Recommend

Traditional Rare Coin Investment

Early certified rare coins can offer balance to your core bullion holdings.
Here we offer a few rules, 2 trading secrets and a
sample of our type inventory. If you want to buy or sell
the rare or unusual call or email anytime.  


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 investing. To begin let me offer four reasons I believe everyone should consider placing a portion of their hard asset money into this area:

Ken Edwards
Vice President

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 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 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 many investors. 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 prices 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 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.


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.


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 excellent value.


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 and fun. 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.


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.


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 better future potential.

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.

And 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.


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.


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.


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 can honestly say that most significant rare coin collections involve active trading of material when an advantage presents itself.

In trading 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 customers. 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 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 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.

~ A Selection of Rare Coin Choices ~
If investing in high grade “Type” is interesting to you
contact me directly for other material you don’t often see.

$10-19121. All PCGS graded Mint State 63 gold are underpriced in that premiums over spot have moved considerably lower as has the price of gold in general. This opens up a contrarian opportunity in that collectors and investors may invest is relative rarity without paying a big up front-cost.

The 1912 $10 Indian in PCGS MS 63 offers a number of advantages for the budget minded.

– It’s PCGS population in the grade is significantly lower than more common dates in the series and yet its relative cost is not that much more than a so called common date (1932).

– Nice examples of mint state coins struck earlier in the 20th Century are not as easy to find as the price would indicate. There are established collectors who understand that these lower population coins offer greater longer term potential and eagerly seek them out in trying to complete a date and mint mark set.

The $10 Indian was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens of $20 Saint Gaudens fame and his design of Liberty wearing an Indian war bonnet was controversial. The idea that our gold coinage needed a completely new look came from President Teddy Roosevelt who influenced (some claim overpowered) Saint-Gaudens in the new designs of both the $10 and $20 gold piece.

This example is typical of the grade and original in color and presentation. The 1912 $10 Indian falls into “With Motto” variety meaning the term In God We Trust was included on the reverse along with a truly majestic eagle – some of Saint-Gaudens most admired work.

PCGS MS 63 1912 $10 Indian Gold Piece – $1400.00     SOLD

3CN-18802. The 3 Cent Nickel series was struck at the Philadelphia Mint between 1865 and 1869 and also represents one of the most overlooked type coins available today. So we include this series in our contrarian look at investing and collecting in the undervalued.

According to Breen the series was struck to replace the unpopular 3 cent paper notes in circulation at the time. Breen continues “Stereotypy of design probably contributed to collector neglect of this series; little attention was paid to even rare dates. Possibly this situation is about to change.”

Contrary to some I have always liked the design by Longacre. The front or obverse of the coin is crisp and interesting to the eye – the reverse is simple and elegant. And the series presents a number of challenges to the set collector or investor. The 3 Cent Nickel was minted in proof condition for 25 years – most of these are modestly priced in high grades. I have only seen 2 complete sets of PCGS Proof 65 examples in my career. 

And high grade proofs like this 1880 are relatively inexpensive considering their small populations. The present example has beautifully clean proof surfaces and is easily in the top 10% for the grade.

The color and luster are welcoming and this coin exhibits the traditional “pop” in eye appeal you want to see in PCGS Proof 65 examples. A great introduction to “type” investing.

1880 Three Cent Nickel – PCGS Proof 65 – $575.00

$20-1903-D3. Investing in high grade $20 Saint Gaudens is a great way to buy rarity and gold at the same time. And with a little more work you will discover there are a group of $20 Saint Gaudens which fly completely under the radar because their numbers in MS 65 are small relative to the more common dates you often see today.

These coins are not seen often but at the same time would not be considered rare when compared to the classic rarities struck between 1929 and 1932.

Still my collection of semi-rare dates offer PCGS populations in the 1000 to 2000 range and offer amazing future potential to collectors and investors without breaking the bank.

The only problem is that because these lower population dates are sought after by collectors and investors they don’t come around often.

The specific coin I’m talking about is the present 1923 D $20 Saint Gaudens in MS 65. Its PCGS Population is small (2250) relative to the most often seen dates like 1927 and 1928. Yet its price is surprisingly affordable. A common date in PCGS MS 65 sells for around $1850.00 and that is considered undervalued by most coin dealers today. First because gold is cheap relative to old highs and second because frankly dealer inventories have been light in this area as the old European hoards see less reason to sell inventory at lower prices.

The coin offered is completely beautiful and will satisfy the most selective of buyers. Its color is totally original and surfaces exceptionally clean so the traditional “pop” expected in this high PCGS grade is there in spades. Don’t wait on this one as I only have one example.

PCGS MS 65 1923 D Saint Gaudens Gold Piece – $2250.00  SOLD

1923-Peace4. The Peace Dollar in PCGS MS66 is also a wonderful first step which could lead to a magnificent 24 coin date set (1921 – 1935).

And even if a set is not in your plans this coin trades nicely in the “type” range especially in PCGS MS 66 – meaning you would want one example only to represent the entire series.

Also note that the Peace dollar in MS 66 is a great place to land relative to coin value. A PCGS MS 67 for example would run in the $4100.00 range so the PCGS MS 66 represents a kind of sweet spot for the value investor or collector. Relatively tough to find blast white examples and yet the price is very affordable.   

High grade silver dollars have immense public appeal and recognition. And silver dollars have been a number one choice for collectors and investors since people began to consider hard assets as an alternative and completely private way of saving money.

If you compare Peace dollars to Morgan dollars you will find the later Peace dollar is actually much harder to find in this very high grade. I like PCGS graded MS66 Peace dollar because this coin has traded several times for more than $5000.00 in the last decade. And so represents a prime example of how smart investors put an undervalued market to work.

PCGS MS66 – 1923 Peace Dollar – $450.00

1904-lewis-and-Clark5. This one dollar Lewis and Clark gold piece fits into the classic early gold commemorative series dated between 1903 and 1926. The set is usually considered to contain 11 coins – the two magnificent $50 gold pieces are rarely seen or owned.

This 11 coin gold set is readily attainable with some diligence and this PCGS MS 64 Lewis and Clark is one of the keys. The coin commemorates the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition held in Portland, Oregon in 1905. It was struck in two years (1904 and 1905) each year producing 17,500 coins according to mint records.

But here is where some inside information can be useful – the gold commemorative series was not well received by the public. If the original mintage was not sold they were melted. So in the case of the Lewis and Clark many of these beautiful coins were destroyed. And because the public ignored the series many of those sold were abused and eventually either spent or used in the jewelry trade. That is why a high grade mint state example is worth consideration – they are another undervalued and overlooked rare coin investment which holds much potential.

And here is another important aspect – for years the 1905 was considered the rarer of the years available. But PCGS records now reveal that those coins dated 1904 are actually the better choice of the two and the 1904 is less expensive.

This gold commemorative sparkles – it is brilliant and mark free with original color. 

PCGS MS 64 – 1904 Lewis and Clark $1 Gold Piece – $2300.00    

25C-19146. The next coin on my list of high grade type coins which are still affordable and mostly overlooked by mainstream investors is the amazing 1914 Barber Quarter in PCGS MS 65. Actually I should reword that last sentence to “new” rare coin investors because “old timers” already appreciate the Barber Quarter series. In PCGS MS 65 they offer great value for both “date” and “condition” investors.

This is true because the Barber series (1902-1916) was a workhorse coin in a period of unprecedented American industrial growth. Most surviving examples are heavily worn because they traded hands often and were readily accepted by the public in an era when real silver coins were the norm.

This gem type coin is blast white and as pristine as the day it was minted. Virtually mark free and brilliant on both sides this is the kind of MS 65 everyone wants because of the “pop” in eye appeal. A no questions asked high-end example and an excellent beginning to the world of type investing.

By the way ask any rare coin dealer who has been around for 20 years and they all will agree Barber coinage in blast white MS 65 condition is under-priced. A collection of 5 different dates and mint marks which look like this coin could take a year to complete.

PCGS Mint State 65 – 1914 Barber Quarter Dollar – $1,300.00

$20-1915-S7. Like her sister coin the high grade 1923 D listed above – this 1915 S came out of the same collection. Investing in high grade $20 Saint Gaudens is a great way to buy rarity and gold at the same time. And with a little more work you will discover there are a group of $20 Saint Gaudens which fly completely under the radar because their numbers in MS 65 are small relative to the more common dates you often see today.These coins are not seen often but at the same time would not considered rare when compared to the few classic rarities struck between 1929 and 1932.

Still my collection of semi-rare dates offer PCGS populations in the 1000 to 2000 range and offer amazing future potential to collectors and investors without breaking the bank.

The only problem is that because these lower population dates are sought after by collectors and investors they don’t come around often.

The specific coin I’m talking about is the present 1915 S $20 Saint Gaudens in MS 65. Its PCGS Population is small (2414) relative to the most often seen dates like 1927 and 1928. Yet its price is surprisingly affordable. A common date in PCGS MS 65 sells for around $1850.00 and that is considered undervalued by most coin dealers today. First because gold is cheap relative to old highs and second because frankly dealer inventories have been light in this area as the old European hoards see less reason to sell old inventory at lower prices.

The coin offered is beautiful and will easily become the MS 65 which is compared to any other Saint Gaudens of the same grade. Its color is original and surfaces exceptionally clean so the traditional “pop” expected in this high PCGS grade is there in spades. Don’t wait on this one either because I only have one example.

PCGS MS 65 – 1915 S Saint Gaudens Gold Piece – $2050.00  SOLD

3 leaves8. Early silver dollars are all rare and comprise one of the most sought after areas of collecting today. By early we mean those struck between 1794 and 1803 representing the first federal coins struck by the new US Mint in Philadelphia. This 1795 silver dollar was only produced in two years – 1794 and 1795. A decent circulated 1794 example would run more than $200,000.00 so it’s usually off the table for most folks. But the 1795 is still reasonably priced considering you don’t often encounter this coin. 

It is known in three varieties, the so called “silver plug” (very rare) and the usually seen Two Leaves and Three Leaves type. The leaves we are talking about are on the reverse, under the eagle’s wing and easily identify the variety. Early dollars are not often seen in mint state, the majority circulated in early America.

This coin offers an amazing story which is historically important.The surfaces of this beauty are immaculate and original luster can still be seen behind the toning. The coin is totally original and never played with which is becoming difficult to find. Early dollars are easily one of my favorite areas of collecting and investing and I never pass up an opportunity to purchase nice examples like this one.

PCGS Extra Fine (XF-40) – 1795 Dollar (3 Leaf Variety) – $14,500.00    

9. A classic in the rare coin field – and one which1787 Fugio Ben Franklin designed. This copper coin is one of the first attempts our new government made to supply much needed coins to colonial America.Called the Fugio cent (intended meaning being “time flys”) and Franklin’s own motto “Mind Your Business” links this historical colonial coin to our nation’s beginning. And I think makes Franklin’s own case for the importance of applied industry in America.There are several varieties – this one being the “STATES UNI” – all Fugio reverses carry the interconnected 13 circles (representing the colonies) and the appropriate motto “We Are One”.

This example is graded AU 55 which means it falls into the higher end of the Almost Uncirculated scale and so presents excellent detail and color.

All Fugio cents are fascinating and struck by hand. Scholars believe the copper used came from the copper bands which held together powder kegs supplied by the French.

PCGS Almost Uncirculated (55) – 1787 Fugio Cent (States Uni) – $2,300.00 **SOLD**

1936 Satin10. Early Twentieth Century proof coinage in superb condition is one of the best places to learn about the advantages of type collecting and investing. And of the choices available the 1936 Buffalo Nickel in PCGS Proof 67 has to be another one of my favorites. The Buffalo 5 Cent Piece in Proof was produced in both a Satin and Brilliant proof finish in 1936. This example is a Satin Proof which has a charm of its own – plenty of eye appeal – and its grade (Proof 67) is noteworthy. This coin would fall into the investing group known as “super grades”. Now considering how popular these early proofs have become and the large collecting base the price of beautiful examples are relatively inexpensive. 

The 1936 PCGS Satin Proof 67 offered is typical featuring brilliant and pristine surfaces. The design by James Earle Fraser is already famous but when the coin is in proof condition there is something special about the presentation which remains enduring to collectors and investors. I have not had a nice proof example in stock for some time and expect it will find a new home quickly. This coin is completely original with lots of eye-appeal. If you are looking for perfection this is about as close as you can get without mortgaging the house.

                  PCGS Satin Proof 67 – 1936 Indian Head Nickel – $2,550.00

1908-NM11. 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 1908 No Motto Wells Fargo examples when they were introduced to the marketplace in 1998.  

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 because who does not like the chance of seeing an early 20th Century gold piece with the special PCGS tagging “Well Fargo Nev Gold”.

The PCGS MS 66 1908 No Motto is one of the most beautiful and sought after gold coins I have ever seen and yet its relative price is more than reasonable. The surfaces are virtually perfect and the color is original and radiant. If you are looking for something at the high end of the grading scale this beauty will fit the bill nicely – a great start to gold type collecting.

PCGS Mint State 66 – 1908 $20 No Motto “Wells Fargo Gold” – $2550.00 SOLD

Keep in mind that the PCGS certified rare coins listed are a selection from a larger inventory of “type” coins. They are chosen to highlight that “type” investing need not be expensive and there are many undervalued “type” coins which remain a part of the “golden age” of rare coins.

I also have long-term price graphs which show excellent entry points and good timing as well. For now however I would suggest you call me (1-800-225-7531) with additional questions about investing in the amazing world of rare coins by “type”.

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 coins have historically protected wealth especially during a currency or inflationary crisis. Then you decide.

Ken Edwards
California Numismatic Investments

P.S. I appreciate how busy everyone is these days so I have added my email (kenedwards@golddealer.com) 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 and educational. Thanks for reading.