Rare date Liberty Head gold coins are currently some of the most underrated U.S coins on the market. They tap in to two of the numismatic market's driving forces: the highly sought-after nature of truly rare items combined with the constant popularity of gold.
In times of financial uncertainty, many investors turn to gold as a tangible alternative asset which can protect against falling currency prices. Add this factor to a coin market where the demand for the rarest and best-condition pieces is currently very high, and you have a combination that can guarantee great returns in years to come.
There are a number of reasons why gold Liberty Head coins, which were issued in denominations of $1, $2.5, $3, $5, $10 and $20, are rare in number. For a start the majority of them were not minted in large quantities, and they were not saved at the time of issue by collectors.
Another important factor is intervention of the Great Depression. In 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt impounded all gold in the US and effectively outlawed the ownership of non-numismatic gold coins.
Many of the older issue coins were recalled by the mint and melted down, meaning certain issues that were once common are now incredibly rare.
Along with the numerical rarity of these coins, there is another issue which increases their value: 'condition rarity'. As gold is the softest of all metals used to mint coins, it marks very easily meaning uncirculated Gem coins (rated MS65 or better) with little or no marking are incredibly scarce and are highly desirable for collectors.
Due to their easily scratched surface many of the gold Liberty Head coins have few or no known Gem or Mint-condition examples, and the ones that do appear on the market are always the subject of fiercely competitive bidding.
An 1878 Liberty Head Gold 'Eagle' $10 coin
Of all the Liberty Head coins, the most popular with collectors are the $2.5, $5 and $10 pieces, of which there are numerous different issues.
The Liberty Head $2.5 coins (or 'quarter eagles') were minted from 1840 to 1907, constantly using the same design during that period. Of the 146 issues, more than half (76) have no known Gem condition examples and five issues don't even exist in Mint condition.
The Liberty Head $5 coins ('half eagles') were minted between 1839 and 1908, with two types of coin: the 1839 to 1866 "No Motto" and the 1866 to 1908 "With Motto" (when "In God We Trust" was added to the reverse). There are 218 different issues, with 140 not known to exist in Gem condition and 19 that don't exist in Mint condition.
The rarest of them all are the $10 Liberty Head eagles, minted from 1838 to 1907. There are three types based on a changing design: the 1838 to 1839 "Covered Ear", the 1839 to 1866 "No Motto" and the 1866 to 1907 "With Motto".
There are 183 issues in the series, with 126 unknown in Gem state and 31 in Mint state. All the $10 eagles are rare in mint condition, and many are rare in any condition at all as some were minted in very small amounts.
As good as gold
The high intrinsic value of gold means that all of these coins will hold a relatively good value, but the key to building a high-value collection is in the quality. If you are collecting any of the Liberty Head series by date, many of the issues are (supposedly) unavailable in Gem or Mint state and a complete set will always feature some lower condition coins.
But as with any valuable collection it is vital to find the best examples possible, and be on a constant lookout for upgrades.
A collection of gold Liberty Head coins will always be a good investment, particularly during times of economic turbulence, but to guarantee a truly great return on your money you need to hunt for the best coins on the market.
It will take time and effort, but it can also be fun and incredibly rewarding. You can create a stunning collection to be enjoyed, safeguard your money against a troubled financial market and make a profit on your investment far beyond the rates of any traditional investments such as stocks or shares.
And when a collection can offer you all that, it's worth its weight in... Well, you know the rest.
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