If you are looking to expand your coin collection this year, this list contains some of the most sought-after coins for beginners and advanced numismatists alike. With an eye toward long-term investment value, if you seek to acquire the highest quality rare coin available that fits in your budget, you will never be disappointed. Here is our list of the top five rare coins you should collect.
1. 1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln Cent
In 1907, President Roosevelt wanted a new coin to honor the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth (1809-1909). Roosevelt explored the idea of featuring an image of President Lincoln on the coin and ultimately accepted a coin design proposal submitted by Victor David Brenner, a sculptor, and engraver.
Americans eagerly anticipated the release of the new Lincoln cent in 1909, this was the first ever regular issue coin in American history to feature a real person. On release day – August 2, 1909 – the police were called in for crowd control, as the coin was distributed for the first time on Wall Street. Newsboys famously took advantage of the huge demand, nearly doubling their money after braving long lines selling their Lincoln cents at three for a nickel.
Quickly, however, public controversy and scandal broke out over the design, specifically the inclusion of Brenner’s initials “V.D.B” on the reverse of the coin. Internal complaints emerged over the size and placement of the initials. A few days later, Treasury Secretary Franklin MacVeagh sent a message: “Stop the mints!” He halted production of the coin and ordered the initials removed.
By then, almost 28 million cents were struck in Philadelphia and 484,000 at the San Francisco Mint. Today, this beloved coin featuring the V.D.B. initials is essential to any Lincoln cent collection.
In 1918, the initials returned, albeit smaller and on the obverse, rather than reverse. That this occurred so soon after the death of Charles Barber led to rumors that Barber, the Mint’s chief engraver, was the person who made the original complaint about the initials.
2. $4 Gold Stella
Named for the five-pointed star featured on its reverse, there is a $4 gold coin known famously as a Stella. The gold coin was minted in 1879 and 1880 and originated as a prototype to closely approximate the value of common foreign gold coins. Stellas were never produced for circulation, but there was immediate collector demand for these awe-inspiring coins.
While it was said that no coin collector could obtain a Stella from the U.S. Mint, the Congressman who had received a special order for prototype viewing apparently used them as gifts and perhaps even payment. It was said that these great works of numismatic art were seen in special necklaces adorning the bosoms of Washington’s top madams, whose brothels were said to be patronized by those same Congressman.
Today, these coins are scarce and expensive. In fact, this ultra-rarity may be beyond the reach of many collectors. But, for those who have the resources, this is a gem to be treasured. The $4 Stella is a historic gem from an exciting time in American history.
3. $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle
Affectionately known as “Saints,” these are often called one of the most beautiful coins ever produced by the U.S. Mint. These lovely coins exist due to the partnership between two monumental historical figures of their day.
President Theodore Roosevelt decided that the nation needed a more classical design on its gold coins. Roosevelt began his vision to reshape the nation’s coinage by unleashing the majestic talent of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a brilliant sculptor of that time. As the story goes, at a Washington dinner party one evening, Roosevelt tasked Saint-Gaudens with the grand undertaking to redesign America’s gold coins.
Both men admired Greece’s ancient coins and agreed that U.S. gold coins developed in that fashion would be a monumental achievement. They were right. Today, these stunning coins still take your breath away. The obverse showcases a dramatic full-length portrait of Liberty in a flowing gown, heralding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. She is featured in full stride with rays of sunlight behind her. Above her, the word LIBERTY sits atop the coin.
The original high-relief version was stunning but impractical to produce and difficult to stack. Subsequently, the relief was reduced and production continued.
The $20 Saint-Gaudens gold piece was minted from 1907 to 1933, except for the years 1917-1919, when World War I resulted in rising bullion prices and an influx of American gold coins from Europe.
4. Morgan Silver Dollar
Many collectors consider The Morgan Silver Dollar to be the premier coin design created by George T. Morgan. The Morgan Dollar is a U.S. coin that was minted between 1878 and 1904, and then again in limited production in 1921. During the initial production phase between 1878 and 1904, there were over 500 million Morgan Dollars minted.
Over 270 million silver dollars were melted down in the U.S. in 1918, in efforts to help finance World War I, the majority of those were Morgans. It was the Pittman Act that called for their replacement, which opened the door to the last production cycle of Morgans ever minted in 1921.
On the coin’s obverse, Lady Liberty’s head dominates the striking face of the coin and is surrounded by the date, 13 stars, and the phrase E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “Out of Many, One.” On the reverse: the American bald eagle sits on a branch with his wings spread out dramatically, while gripping arrows in one of its talons. The work of art is surrounded by a 3/4 wreath and the motto “In God We Trust” is emblazoned above the eagle’s head. If there is a mint mark, it sits below the wreath.
It’s easy to see why the Morgan dollar is beloved among numismatists. The large, nearly palm-sized heavy silver dollar is a joy to hold in your hand.
5. Mercury Dime
You may already be familiar with the Winged Liberty Head Dime, popularly known as the “Mercury” Dime. The U.S. mint struck this popular coin from 1916 until 1945. This is one of the iconic coins that numismatics acquire for sets. Easy availability for most of the years is one reason that even beginning collectors can tackle the satisfying goal of owning a Mercury Dime set.
Within the Mercury Dime series, there are only a few absolute rarities and there is only one that is hard to find. The 1916-D is the scarcest major key date and rarity within the Mercury Dime series. Only 264,000 were struck. Other key dates include 1921 and 1921-D and 1942-1 and 1942 -1D. The latter key dates show “overdates” with the number “2” struck over the number “1.”
Some Americans confused the depiction on the reverse of the coin of a young Liberty with the Roman god Mercury, which is how its popular name caught on. The coin’s design received positive reviews within the artistic community. However, some modifications were required as the coin did not perform well in vending machines.
Collectors actively pursue this stunning coin for the exceptional design created by Adolph A. Weinman. The metal content is 90% silver and 10% copper. The mints include Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
If you are interested in starting or adding to your collection, contact a Blanchard portfolio manager today. We will take the time to learn your investment objectives, investment time horizon, and risk appetite before recommending rare coins for your consideration – to help you meet both your collecting and investment goals.
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