I define a “cool” coin as one which has a numismatic or historical association that differentiates it from other issues in the set. It can be a first-year-of-issue or a one-year type. It can be a super low-mintage coin, or a coin struck at a popular branch mint. Often times, a legitimately cool coin can be bought for the same price as a more traditional type coin, and the point of this article is to motivate type collectors to think outside of the box.
You have two choices with this design: the rare first-year 1838 and the not-as-rare but still cool 1839. The former is rare, and it becomes expensive in higher grades, while the latter is more affordable and more available. Personally, I think there is no “wrong” choice here, as both issues qualify on the DW Cool Coin list.
There are many interesting alternative choices for this popular type. I would suggest an 1841-O (the first New Orleans issue of this type) or the more affordable 1854-S (the first San Francisco eagle). A Civil War issue would be interesting, although most are too rare to be realistic as a type coin. Even a traditional common-date Philadelphia No Motto issue is interesting and scarce as you climb the grading scale.
Here is another design with numerous cool options, even the traditional common-date (1901-S) in high grade (MS65). I would suggest an MS63 or even an MS64 New Orleans eagle or perhaps an 1891-CC in MS62 to MS63. If these don’t seem cool enough to you, how about one of the sub-1000-mintage Philadelphia issues from the 1870s (1873, 1876, or 1877). Or, maybe an early date San Francisco issue (1866-1872), which is rare and surprisingly affordable?
Most type collectors choose a 1926 or a 1932 in MS64 or MS65 for their Indian Head Eagle. If you have the required funds, what about an ultra-cool 1907 Wire Rim? If that is too much of a stretch, try the first-year 1907 No Periods.
Some type collectors subdivide this design into two issues: the No Motto (1907-1908) and the With Motto (1908-1933). If you do this, there are a number of interesting With Motto dates to pursue. I would select a San Francisco date, and the most affordable are the 1909-S and the 1910-S.
Thanks to shipwrecks, high-grade San Francisco Type One issues are available for type collectors. I would select an 1857-S from the S.S. Central America or an 1865-S from the S.S. Brother Jonathan. If obtaining a high-grade example is not the ultimate goal for this type, you might choose a New Orleans issue (the 1851-O and the 1852-O are the best for type sets) or an 1854-S due to its status as the first San Francisco double eagle.
If you have ever aspired to own a Carson City double eagle, a Type Two dated 1875-CC or 1876-CC is affordable and would make sense in this set. The typical type coins in most sets are the common 1873-1876 Philadelphia and San Francisco issues and, to be honest, at the current lower price levels, these issues are great values in MS62 and MS63.
Even if you bought a Carson City Type Two you could go whole hog and buy a Type Three from this mint as well; $5,000 would buy you a nice AU example. Or, you could opt for an 1877 or 1877-S first-year date. At the very least, I would go for a 19th-century common date instead of the ubiquitous 1904.
Depending on your perspective, you can collect this type as one, two, or three issues. To me, the one coin that epitomizes this design is the 1907 High Relief and is the Cool Coin I would select to be my one and only Saint. If this is too much of a stretch, I would select a 1907 No Motto given its first-year status. Another issue I might choose is the 1909/8, as it is the only overdate of this design.
In this era of high-priced U.S. gold coinage, type collecting makes sense and, for many collectors, working on a modified type set that begins with the Classic Head issues makes even more sense. Hopefully, this article has given you some pause for thought about a collecting avenue you might have toyed with.
Want to work with me on a Cool Coin Type Set? Give Doug Winter a call at 214-675-9897 or email at [email protected] to discuss.
This article is from the current March-April 2020 Rare Coin Market Report. To continue reading this issue, please visit the digital version for the Current Issue. You will be prompted to input the email address linked to your PCGS account. All current PCGS Collectors Club members will have free access to the complete digital Rare Coin Market Report. To purchase a single print issue or 1-year subscription, please visit the RCMR Homepage. If you are not a PCGS Collectors Club Member and wish to join please visit the PCGS membership page at www.pcgs.com/join.