If you are considering collecting as a hobby, or if you want to update your own collection with some of the most desired coins, now is the time at the start of the New Year to save, bid on, and buy these four iconic coins, all available in lower grades or higher mintages for $300-500.
Because stories are linked with these coins, you’ll wow family, friends, and members of your local coin club when you show them.
To start the New Year a year ago, PCGS reclassified the famous Fugio cent as the earliest issue of all U.S. coins. Coin Update covered that milestone in a post titled, “It’s a Fugio cent, not a copper; and it’s about time.”
The allure of this coin is associated with Benjamin Franklin, said to have designed it. It certainly reflects his humor. The motto MIND YOUR BUSINESS encourages privacy and commerce, as in, “Take care of your business and stay out of mine.”
The term fugio in Latin means “I fly,” associated with the sundial in the center of the coin. “Time flies” is a common phrase to this day. It was Franklin, after all, who professed “Time is money” in the 1748 essay, “Advice to a Young Tradesman.”
You can secure a low-grade example for under $500. This one sold at GreatCollections for $399.
Tell the Fugio tale at your area coin club, and you’ll enchant the members.
1917 Standing Liberty Quarter Dollar Type I
You’ll want the 1917 Standing Liberty quarter dollar for two reasons — its elegant design and topless Lady Liberty.
Coin Update covered this iconic coin in a post about grading, titled,”Designations on Standing Liberty Quarters.”
Hermon A. MacNeil’s design ranks as one of the most beautiful depictions in U.S. coinage. The bare-breasted version appears on the 1916 and 1917 Type I issues. The 1916 variety has a low mintage of 52,000 and is out of the price range of most collectors. (It retails for $4,000 and Good 4 on the Sheldon 70 scale.)
The 1917 Type I was changed to Lady Liberty wearing chain mail (Type II), perhaps due to public outcry about nudity. Also, the Type I is found with San Francisco and Denver mint marks.
This one sold for $403 at GreatCollections.
Also, a word of caution: This issue gets an “R” rating at coin clubs with youth members. So show only to adults.
GSA Carson City Dollar
Another storied coin with an iconic design is the 1882-84 Carson City dollar packaged by the General Services Administration in the 1970s with a statement from President Richard Nixon:
As we approach America’s Bicentennial, this historic silver dollar is one of the most valued reminders of our national heritage.
Nixon thought he would have a second term but resigned due to the Watergate scandal in 1974.
Although the GSA holdered rarer, and non-Carson City dollars, too, you’ll want to get an affordable Morgan with the CC mint mark because of its fabled history. Best buys are the Uncirculated 1882-CC with a mintage of 1,133,000; 1883-CC, 1,204,000; and 1884-CC, 1,136,000.
Carson City, named for the frontiersman Christopher “Kit” Carson, evokes the Wild West lore of American history. Silver became prized in 1859 with the discovery of Nevada’s Comstock Lode, which drew tens of thousands of people to the area. You can read about and still visit the famed Carson City mint building.
Also, be careful not to pay more than the retail value of these coins. Some auctioneers and sellers hype the price for GSA dollars because they are so popular and in demand. They also should come with paperwork, including a certificate with the proper year in the serial number. Coin Update published a post on this topic.
This one sold for $315 at GreatCollections.
At any rate, this coin is a showstopper at coin clubs. Everyone has, wants or marvels at this specimen.
Alexander the Great Tetradrachm
When you want to discuss history with numismatic friends or family, consider an Alexander the Great tetradrachm. I teach ethics as a college professor, and I have often thought that the philosophy of Aristotle gained prominence in part because he was Alexander’s tutor.
Alexander (356-323 BC) conquered much of the known world at the time as a brilliant and merciless military strategist with conquests throughout the Mediterranean, the Persian Empire, and even parts of India.
Alexander’s tetradrachms usually show the head of Herakles donning a lion’s skin with Zeus on the reverse holding an eagle. For more details, check out Doug Smith’s educational site about these awesome coins with a weight of 17.1 grams, about 4.6 grams more than a Franklin half dollar, and 9.6 grams less than a Morgan dollar.
The above example was sold recently at GreatCollections for $262 with a buyer’s fee. Many ancient collectors do not like slabbed coins because they want to feel as well as see the tetradrachm. I understand that. But there are thousands of cast counterfeit examples on auction sites, and if you aren’t schooled in ancient numismatics, I recommend buying a holdered coin and then cracking it out.
Everyone at the coin club will want to feel its heft and history.