U.S. Coin Price Guide

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Generic gold coins shine
By Steve Roach

A bright spot in the current market is in generic gold, both circulated and Uncirculated. Multiple dealers are contributing to a robust market, of which generic Coronet (a.k.a. Liberty or Libs) and Saint-Gaudens (a.k.a. Saints) gold $20 double eagles are king.

Over dealer networks like the Certified Coin Exchange, trading in these coins has been very active. This market helps establish a wholesale price level that eventually affects retail prices.

Generic gold coins are those issues are the most common in their respective series and so carry no collector premium associated with rarity. Examples include a 1904 Coronet double eagle or a 1924 Saint-Gaudens double eagle.

In generic gold, the market has a strong preference for coins without copper spots. Copper is alloyed with gold in U.S. gold coins, and sometimes copper spots appear on the surface due to improper alloy mixture. These can often be removed through solvents or professional conservation, although not always.

For example, the top dealer to dealer bid for a Saint-Gaudens $20 coin with "no spots" is $150 higher than a coin with copper spots. The premium for spot-free coins declines as the grade goes down, but spot-free coins are virtually always easier to sell to dealers and clients.

The wholesale demand and price for Uncirculated coins graded by Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. ebbs and flows based on the demands of those who promote these coins to markets outside of the hobby.

The bullion market also plays a major role, especially with circulated gold.

Several major coin auction houses have started Internet-based gold auctions specifically aimed at the generics market. While the profits on trading generics are generally moderate per coin, their liquidity makes them easy coins for dealers to work with and buy/sell spreads are generally tight.

On a more somber note, there has been some rumbling on the issue of dealer liquidity of late. Dealers are subject to the same financial pressures as other businesses and their credit is being subjected to re-evaluation by banks. More than ever, cash is king.


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