Just 5 Graded Higher – 1879-CC Capped Die Morgan Dollar PCGS MS65

A Top 100 Variety. Carson City Morgan dollar collectors have long been aware of the “Capped Die” variety, named after the myriad minute die chips in the vicinity of the mintmark of the VAM-3 1879-CC. The first plausible theory for the die chips was provided by Morgan dollar researcher Leroy Van Allen, who suggested in 1965 that the wrong size (Small CC) mintmark was initially entered, and the chips were an attempt to efface remnants of the Small CC before the Large CC was tapped into the reverse die. Thus, VAM-3 is a Large Over Small CC variety, and it has long been separately listed in the Guide Book.

The PCGS population is 15 with 5 graded higher – none higher than MS65+.

Listed at $43,200 in the CDN CPG and $47,500 in the NGC price guide.

Offered at $41,780

Pop 1, Only 1 Graded Higher – 1862-S Liberty Half Eagle MS61

While the Civil War effectively ended the circulation of gold and silver coinage up and down the East Coast, hard money remained in the channels of Western commerce throughout that fraught period in American history. The San Francisco Mint struck 9,500 half eagles in 1862, nearly all of which ended up in circulation. Probably three or four pieces survive in Mint State, at best, and the entire population of 1862-S five-dollar gold pieces is likely smaller than 100 coins. 

The PCGS population is 1 with only 1 graded higher.

Listed at $67,500 in the PCGS price guide.

Offered at $59,100

1908-D With Motto Saint Gaudens Double Eagle NGC MS66

Despite objections from President Theodore Roosevelt, Congress mandated that the motto IN GOD WE TRUST be added to the Saint-Gaudens double eagle and other U.S. coinage. While Roosevelt felt the motto distracted from the Saint-Gaudens design, he yielded to public outcry and Congressional will. All of the 1908 With Motto twenties (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco) are scarce in Gem Uncirculated condition and rare any finer, although the 1908-D Motto benefits from several high-grade examples found in Central America in 1983.

The NGC population is 10 with 9 graded higher.

Listed at $30,000 in the NGC price guide.

Offered at $23,050

1854-S Liberty Double Eagle PCGS AU50

The San Francisco Mint began coinage operations in 1854, occupying the same building that previously housed the U.S. Assay Office of Gold, which produced the iconic $50 octagonal “slugs” of the Gold Rush period. Coinage during the first several months though was stunted due to a lack of parting acids needed for ore refinement. The double eagle mintage at San Francisco of 1854 was only 141,468 pieces, which would prove to be the lowest total coinage of this denomination at the West Coast branch mint. Surviving examples of the 1854-S double eagle are scarce in high AU grades and borderline rare in attractive Mint State condition. 

Listed at $15,000 in the CDN CPG and $17,500 in the PCGS price guide.

Offered at $15,150

Only 3 Graded Higher – 1886 Morgan Dollar NGC MS68

The 1886 is a plentiful Philadelphia Morgan dollar issue with a mintage that approaches 20 million coins. Dave Bowers describes the distribution of 1886 dollars in his Silver Dollar Encyclopedia: “Quantities of 1886 dollars were released by the Treasury over a long period of years, with a large number coming out in 1951, 1952, and, especially, December 1954.” Even more were released during the early 1960s, further contributing to the date’s availability. And this issue is widely recognized for its collectibility in high grades. That includes coins in MS66 and even MS67. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, availability is much more limited in this ultimate grade.

The NGC population is 41 (two of which have been designated “Star”), with only 3 MS68+ representatives graded higher.

Listed at $14,400 in the CDN CPG and $16,500 in the NGC price guide.

Offered at $7,300

Only 1 Graded Higher – 1941-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar NGC MS67

The 1941-S is the key issue from the “short set” of 1941 to 1947 Walking Liberty halves. The wartime West Coast issue is less rare than its reputation in grades through MS66, but Superb Gems, such as the one offered here, are unquestionably rare relative to Registry demand for the popular series. The NGC population is 52 with a single (MS67+) example graded higher. Listed at $38,400 in the CDN CPG and $15,000 in the NGC price guide.

Offered at $8,500

Tied for Highest Graded – 1935-S Texas PCGS MS68

With 10,000 coins distributed to collectors (and eight pieces reserved for assay), the 1935-S Texas commemorative half dollar fails to distinguish itself as a rarity in the series. Indeed, examples are plentiful through most grades, including MS63 all the way up through MS67. It is at this stratospheric level, however, that the issue becomes a genuine condition rarity.

The PCGS population is just 6 with none graded higher.

Listed at $11,200 in the CDN CPG and $14,000 in the PCGS price guide.

Offered at $9,600

Tied for Highest Graded – 1903-S Liberty Half Eagle PCGS MS67

An unremarkable production of more than 1.8 million half eagles was accomplished at the San Francisco Mint in 1903. The 1903-S five is widely collectible through MS63 and even MS64. Examples in Gem and Premium Gem grades are scarce, while Superb Gems of this quality are condition rarities.

The PCGS population is only 5 with none graded higher.

Listed at $16,200 in the CDN CPG and $20,000 in the PCGS price guide.

Offered at $15,500

Tied for Highest Graded – 1884 Seated Liberty Dime PCGS MS68

Unlike the quarters and halves, a large number of dimes were struck in 1884. In fact, more than 3.3 million pieces were produced. Despite the large mintage, surprisingly few coins were set aside in the ultimate grades. This particular example offers highly attractive ocean-blue peripheries with golden-brown and red fields. While typical mint state survivors certainly aren’t rare, at the MS68 level this date is a formidable conditional rarity,

The PCGS population is only 3 with none graded higher.

Listed at $17,500 in the PCGS price guide

Offered at $11,800

Only 2 Graded Higher – 1854 Arrows Seated Liberty Quarter NGC PR65

All 1854 Seated Liberty quarters show arrows at the date to signify a weight change in the denomination that was instituted the year before. The 1853-dated quarters also displayed a glory of rays on the reverse, but that feature was eliminated in 1854 because of striking problems and die breakage. The Arrows design was continued in 1855, then eliminated, creating an extremely popular two-year subtype.

Accounts of the precise rarity of the 1854 Arrows quarter proof issue vary to a certain extent, but all agree that it is very rare at a minimum, with no more than 12 to 15 known (according to David Akers, writing for the Pittman catalog in 1998) or around 10 (according to Walter Breen). PCGS CoinFacts estimates 10 to 15 pieces known.

The NGC population is only 2 with 2 graded higher.

Listed at $21,600 in the CDN CPG and $25,000 in the NGC price guide.

Offered at $21,900