Philadelphia Mint $20 Liberty’s: The Dates That Make the Best Buys Today

October 8, 2012

by Jim Fehr (The Winning Edge)

Hope your summer was great. Last year was a big year in the metals market and in all key date gold and silver coins. So far this year both have been mostly stable except for bullion prices which rallied in the spring, waned in the summer and have recently begun to rally again.

Today the coin market is good – stable prices and strong demand along with a growing collector/investor base. With increasingly more buyers putting their money into rarities along with a shaky governmental fiscal backdrop, both rare coins and bullion fared well as a safe haven for the weakened dollar. In fact, a 1787 Brasher Doubloon PCGS graded AU50 traded for $7.4 million early this year and was reportedly purchased by a Wall Street Investment firm that has $250 million earmarked for rare coins. Regardless of how much or where the money is coming from, the most important strategy you can do to improve your rare coin holdings is to concentrate on PCGS and NGC graded rarities.

Anyone that has purchased certified Key Date coins – Morgan dollars, Walkers, Mercury dimes, Buffalo nickels, $20 Saint-Gaudens, Rare Date gold Indians, Key Date gold and silver type – just to name a few, are going be the winners over the next few years. I have written many articles on the subject of how market demand has been gravitating to rarity and have covered all the major date collected series – including those mentioned above. In this issue of The Winning Edge I’m going to look at one series that is ripe for appreciation – Rare Date Type 3 $20 Liberty’s.

$20 Liberty’s

Twenty-dollar gold coins were first produced in United States in 1849 after legislation was passed to strike the $1 and $20 gold pieces. With the discovery of gold in California these new $20 pieces or “Double Eagles”, were favored among bankers at the time due to their larger denomination – twice the face value of the $10 gold eagles.

The series (1849-1907) has three types and were minted in Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, Denver (1906 and 1907 only) and San Francisco. Type 1 Twenties, minted 1849-1866, did not have the motto “In God We Trust” on the reverse. Type 2 Twenties, minted 1866-1876, have the motto added and Type 3 Twenties, 1877-1907, have the previously abbreviated denomination, Twenty D., completely spelled out. Over the years Type 3 Twenty-Dollar Liberty’s have become more date collected and today enjoy greater date demand than both Type 1 and Type 2 Liberty’s. The fact that they are not as yet date collected as much $20 Saint-Gaudens only makes them a better deal now.

A closer look shows that Type 3 $20 Libs. have a wide disparity of prices along with rarity. Many of the rarest dates came from Philadelphia due to their lower mintages.  No business strikes were made in 1883, 1884, and 1887 and in 1882, 1885, and 1886, one thousand or fewer coins were minted for each year. The rare Type 3 $20 Philly mints are the focus of this article as I believe they are overlooked compared to the Carson City and other mint mark dates.

Most Common Date $20 Liberty

1904-P

Mintage:                             6,256,699

MS65 Population:                   10,386

MS65 Price:                            $3,850

 

Lowest Mintage Date

1882-P 

Mintage:                       571

MS62 population:             1

MS62 Price:         $175,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a breakdown of eleven other rare date Philadelphia Type 3 $20 Liberty’s. You will notice that these dates are among the lowest mintage dates in the series and are priced inexpensively compared to many rare date higher mintage Carson City twenties. These are great dates to have and are worth seeking them out for a type piece or getting them all. I truly believe their value today is among the best in U.S. gold coins and as such should continue to have great demand and future growth potential.

The tables below show a list of eleven rare dates recommend along with their PCGS and NGC combined populations. The second table also gives the 1885, 1886, and 1891 populations in AU50 thru MS60 grades.

 

Date

Mintage

Rank

 

 

Population:

 

 

 

 

MS61

MS62

MS63

MS64

MS65

1877

397K

253

33

2

0

1878

543K

514

58

12

0

1879

207.5K

85

27

14

3

1880

51.4K

39

9

8

0

0

1885

751

9

6

3

0

0

1886

1,000

2

0

1

0

1

1891

1,390

1

1

3

1

0

1892

4,430

19

19

5

3

0

1902

31.1K

288

82

10

0

1905

58.9K

353

62

10

1

1906

69.5K

399

148

37

10

 

The dates below, which are also included above, are for populations in AU50 thru MS60 grades.

Date

Mintage

Rank

 

 

Population:

 

 

 

 

AU50

AU53

AU55

AU58

MS60

1885

751

8

9

17

64

3

1886

1,000

4

10

8

12

1

1891

1,390

5

6

18

22

1

 

1877.  Mintage is just under 398K and it’s the first year of the Type 3 $20 Libs. The date is available in low uncirculated condition but is scarce in Choice BU and higher grades – only 35 certified coins exist in MS63 and MS64. The price of an MS63, $13,000, and MS64, under $30K, seem cheap compared to their low populations.

1878.  Many of this date were shipped overseas and have since made their way back. Most are heavily abraded and like the 1877 above are a very tough coin in MS63 and higher grades.  As you can see from their certified populations most of the uncirculated coins are MS60 to MS62. Love this date in MS63 or MS64 at today levels.

1879.  The highest mintage date of the group yet only 44 coins are graded in MS63 and higher condition. Equally as scarce as the dates above and scarcer when all grades combined are considered. A great find in MS63 if you can get one under $16,000 and worth the stretch in MS64 at $26K.

1880.  Mintage 51,420. Rare date in all BU you grades with just 79 coins graded MS60 to MS63 and none to date have graded higher. I like this date in any BU grade and if you can find one in MS62 or MS63 you’ll have just one of 17 pieces so grade. You may have to pay a bit over the levels for one of these but it’s worth it.

1885.  Mintage 751.  Very hard Philadelphia issue and with a mintage of less than a 1,000 coins it’s a popular sought after piece. A great date to own in any grades XF and higher.

1886. The rarest of the group based on PCGS and NGC populations. Only 1,000 pieces were minted and like the 1880 above there are very few coins to go around. A popular date as no other mints struck 1886 $20 Liberty’s. Only 50 coins have been graded by both services combined in all grades.

1891. Mintage 1,390. Only 69 coins have been graded in all grades and only 7 in BU condition.  Like the 1886 it’s a date I like in any grade XF40 and higher. In the last ten years only four coins have traded in auctions in uncirculated condition.

1892.  Another very low mintage date and a date you rarely see in MS63 and higher grades. Only 4,430 coins were minted and only 12 coins have been graded MS63 or higher. A great date in MS60 and higher grades.

1902.  First of the 20th century rarities in the group and the lowest mintage date among them. As shown by their PCGS and NGC population data, Choice MS63 and higher coins are difficult with only 10 coins certified MS64 and none finer. A great date to find in MS63 or MS64.

1905.  A mintage of just 58,919 coins compared to over 6,000,000 from the previous year, 1904. One of the most popular date $20 Libs in the series and a date you should look to get in MS63 and higher. Only 73 coins graded by PCGS and NGC in MS63 and higher grades – just one exists in certified MS65 condition.

 1906.  Like the 1902 and 1905 a later date rarity with just 69,596 coins minted. Although ready available in low uncirculated grades it’s recommend in MS63 and higher grades. If you have the opportunity to buy one of the 49 coins graded MS64 and higher, you should stretch for it if you can – you won’t be disappointed.

 

The tables below show an estimated acquisition price for the coins mentioned. The second table also gives prices for the 1885, 1886, and 1891 in AU50 and higher circulated grades. Prices are based on various sources including The Coin Dealers Newsletter, Certified Coin Exchange prices, CAC trading levels and PCGS and NGC price guides.

 

Date

Mintage

Rank

 

 

Price:

 

 

 

 

 

MS61

MS62

MS63

MS64

MS65

1877

397K

$4,250

$13,000

$27,500

1878

543K

$3,750

$15,000

$26,000

1879

207.5K

$5,850

$16,500

$25,000

$75,000

1880

51.4K

$11,500

$18,500

$28,500

1885

751

$87,500

$120K

$140K

1886

1,000

$125K

$140K

$175K

1891

1,390

$67,500

$90,000

$145K

$190K

1892

4,430

$23,000

$35,000

$45,000

$53,000

1902

31.1K

$4,350

$13,000

$24,500

1905

59K

$4,850

$15,000

$35,000

1906

69.5K

$3,250

$7,500

$16,000

$27,500

 

The dates below, which are also included above, are for prices in AU50 thru MS60 grades.

Date

Mintage

Rank

 

 

Price:

 

 

 

 

 

AU50

AU53

AU55

AU58

MS60

1885

751

$36,000

$40,000

$52,000

$62,000

$72,500

1886

1,000

$75,000

$82,000

$92,000

$105,000

$155,000

1891

1,390

$22,000

$29,500

$40,000

$45,000

$55,000

 

If you would like to own or sell some or all of the dates listed call us because we are always on the lookout for these pieces and can help you locate the ones you need. Plus, we’ll be glad work with you on building a complete set.

About Jim Fehr & Winning Edge Coin and Bullion

Jim Fehr, president, has been buying and selling high quality rare coins for over 25 years. He owned and operated Ellesmere Numismatics until 2006 when he sold it to Spectrum Group International.  After working for their subsidiaries, NACT and Bowers & Merena, he opened Winning Edge Coin and Bullion in 2010.  Winning Edge Coin and Bullion specialize in coins authenticated and certified by the most recognized independent grading services in the country – the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and the Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC).

Visit Winning Edge Coin & Bullion at http://www.winningedgecoins.com

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