The Top 10 All-Time Rare Coin Price List
by Van Simmons
President, David Hall Numismatics
Part 4 – The Top 10 All-Time Rare Coin Price List: There are several thousand U.S. rare coins that are appropriate additions to any portfolio being built for maximum profit potential. But what are the best coins in this group? What are the very best coins to have in your portfolio?
I have compiled a rare coin price list that I feel represents the rare coin market’s 10 best bets for short-term, medium-term and long-term potential. Let’s call it “The Top 10 All-Time Rare Coin Price List.” These are the top 10 quality examples from the five most active, most liquid, most popular, and best performing areas of the rare coins market. Here are the criteria I used for my list:
My rare coin price list has at least one coin from each of the five major areas of the market: type coins, rare gold, silver dollars, 20th Century singles, and silver commems. I’ve also included coins in three piece groups: inexpensive coins ($50 to $1,000 for Gem quality examples), moderately priced coins ($1,000 to $10,000) and expensive (or, “Big Boy”) coins (over $10,000). As usual, all recommendations apply to MS64 or better quality coins only.
While this rare coin list doesn’t follow any specific order, I decided to put the $20 Saint-Gaudens first, because it is probably the world’s best-known coin. It is also one of the most beautiful coin designs in numismatic history. The coin has it all – beauty, popularity, rarity (in top condition), good past performance and, don’t forget, it’s almost exactly one ounce of “Oro Puro”! MS65. Saint-Gaudens is also one of the few coins that didn’t flop in price during the 1980-82 bear market, even though the price of gold bullion, MS60 and MS63 Saint-Gaudens tumbled. I have said it before, but it’s worth repeating – every portfolio should have at least one MS64 or better quality Saint-Gaudens!
[Editor's Note: This is the coin recommended by Investment U Contributor, Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, - what we call the Secret Currency. If you want to invest in other types of rare coins, we recommend you start with one of David Hall's other nine favorites, detailed below.]
Rare Coin Price List Group One: Inexpensive Rare Coins…
2. Texas Commemorative Half Dollar
There are many excellent silver commemorative issues, but the Texas was an easy choice for number one commemorative on the Top 10 All-Time Rare Coin Price List. Between 1934 and 1938, approximately 150,000 Texas Centennial half dollars were minted. Probably 60% to 80% of those survive today. Of these, approximately 50% grade MS65 or better. So, this is not a truly rare coin, just a scarce coin. The thing that sets the Texas apart is the beauty of its design and the coin’s extreme popularity. In fact, no other U.S. issue is associated with as much regional chauvinism (i.e. support) as the Texas half dollar.
3. Walking Liberty Half Dollar
Like the $20 Saint-Gaudens, this is one of the world’s most beautiful coins. It is also extremely popular with coin buyers. Again, I’ve used the “most affordable” concept, though these coins are certainly not easy to find in top condition. And all five of the 1941 to 1945 Philadelphia issues make the rare coin price list-proof Walking Liberty half dollars are also great. They were only minted from 1936 to 1942 and they are a little more expensive than the circulation strikes.
4. Mercury Dimes
Mercury dimes and Walking Liberty halves represent the ultimate in 20th Century numismatic beauty and importance. Though the Mercury dime series stretched between 1916 and 1945, proofs were made only between 1936 and 1942.
Circulation strike Mercury dimes circa 1940 to 1945 are very reasonably priced, with Gems selling for less than $50. The proofs are a little more expensive.
Rare Coin Price List Group Two: Moderately-Priced Coins…
5. 1917 Type One Standing Liberty Quarter
Though this is one of the truly beautiful U.S. coin types, it was made for only two years. The exposed breast of Ms. Liberty caused such an uproar that they radically changed the design halfway through 1917. Since the 1916 is a five-figure rarity, this coin is effectively a one-year-only type coin. It makes the rare coin price list thanks to its collective beauty, popularity, importance and rare top condition.
6. Barber Half Dollars
Barber halves were minted between 1892 and 1915. They are one of the coin market’s most important issues. They are collected both by date and by “type” collectors. They are the rarest of the 20th Century sliver type issues. They are beautiful and important rare coins, and both Gem quality circulation strikes and proofs are wonderful.
7. Twenty-Cent Pieces
This odd coin was only made for four years – 1875 through 1878. The coin looked too much like a quarter to catch on with the public and there really wasn’t a commercial need for the denomination. Today, twenty-cent pieces are highly prized collector’s items. The design is the beautiful Liberty Seated type and all twenty-cent pieces are rare in top condition.
Rare Coin Price List Group Three: “Big Boy” Coins…
8. Liberty Seated Dollars
This is one of the most beautiful coins ever made and one of the rarest of the major 19th Century U.S. types. Both circulation strikes and proofs are very rare. This coin is my number one favorite.
9. Early U.S. gold coins
From 1795 to 1834, the U.S. minted $2.50, $5, and $10 gold coins. In 1834, the gold content of our coins was lowered slightly and most pre-1835 gold coins hit the melting pot. Today, these early treasures of American financial history are rare in all grades and super rare in Gem condition.
10. Proof Gold
Today the Mint strikes millions of proof coins a year and sells them to collectors all over the world. In the 19th Century, the Mint struck a few thousand proof coins each year and only a handful of proof gold coins. Proof gold coins are the caviar of the numismatic marketplace… the beachfront property of rare coins. They are expensive, but they are super rare and demand is always sky high in both good and bad markets.
Originally published in A Mercenary’s Guide to the Rare Coin Market. For more information on David Hall, the Inside View newsletter and David Hall Rare Coins, go to www.davidhall.com. To buy or sell rare coins, contact Van Simmons of David Hall Rare Coins by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call toll-free, 800.759.7575.
Part 1: Coin Investing: What Drives the Coin Investing Market
Part 2: Coin Investing: Five Important Advantages of Rare Collectible Coin Investments
Part 3: Rare Coin Investing: What You Need To Know about Rare Coin Investing and the Value of Rare Coins
Additional information on rare coin investing from the Investment U Archives:
- Rare Coins: My Favorite “Old Money” Investments
- Buying Gold Coins: The Ultimate No Brainer
- Why High-End Coins Are Set To Ride Even Higher