U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

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Treasure coins popular
By Steve Roach

The discovery of the SS Central America in 1987 with tons of gold coins and ingots made some coins more accessible to collectors and created new objects for collectors to enjoy.

For example, more than 5,200 1857-S Coronet gold $20 double eagles were recovered from the SS Central America, many in Mint State.

These coins were conserved by the salvors, graded by Professional Coin Grading Service, marketed by the California Gold Marketing Group and sold through a network of authorized dealers. The marketing effort emphasized the coins' storied past and was structured to attract buyers from far beyond the numismatic community.

Prior to the wreck's discovery, the majority of 1857-S Coronet double eagles in the marketplace were in Very Fine to Extremely Fine grades with Mint State examples coming to market very infrequently. Today, with the shipwreck coins on the market, gem examples are plentiful and PCGS has recorded 907 submissions that have received grades of MS-65, 182 at MS-66 and 11 at MS-67.

The market has absorbed the vast quantity of coins, and prices are starting to rise for the issues at auctions. In 2001, MS-63 examples sold at auction for $5,000 to $5,500. At a January 2010 auction, one realized $7,475.

Along with coins, large gold ingots were discovered. In part because of the difficulty of finding buyers for the mega-sized gold ingots (for example, the "Eureka" bar weighs 933 ounces), replica pieces were made out of gold from some of the large old assayer ingots, while the faces of the bars were carefully cut and milled to preserve them. Large, 2.5-ounce gold J.G. Kellogg 1855 "commemorative restrikes" were produced using transfer dies made from the original dies.

The restrike pieces carry the inscription s.s. central america gold, c.h.s. on the reverse ribbon, and an incused mark of the date each was struck. These replicas have recently hovered at the $3,000 to $3,500 level at auction. The original release price was $5,000.

Perhaps most popular are the pieces struck on Sept. 11, 2001, – the date of the terrorist attacks against the United States, and the anniversary of the date that the SS Central America first began to founder.


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