Sunday, December 12, 2010

Civil War Gold: Surging interest in the 1861-P $20 Gold Double Eagle


Will surging gold prices and the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War in 2011 bring higher values to the 1861 Philadelphia $20 gold double eagle?

Recently, there seems to be a large increase in collector and/or investor interest in the 1861-P $20 double eagle.

How do I know?

It's really quite simple . . . from the traffic to my blogs and website.

One of the really cool aspects of having a coin collecting blog or website is that there are analytical tools available that let you drill down into how people find you on the internet. That data includes the keywords someone types into a Google search.

For years, the number one coin being searched for in Google that brought someone to my blog was the 1857-S gold $20 double eagle from the SS Central America shipwreck. No other coin even came close. 

Over the years, there were very few searches for the 1861-P double eagle. When one did occur, it was always for one of the two existing examples with a Paquet reverse (two coins out of all but the wealthiest of collectors).

In September 2010 everything changed!  Since then the 1861 double eagle has surpassed the 1857-S as the most searched for coin bringing traffic to my blogs and website. In fact, the 1861 is now the number one searched coin for all of 2010, and almost all of those searches have been since September.  Digging deeper into the data I can also see that these people are pretty much evenly distributed throughout the country.

This is a major change in a pattern that's held steady for years!

My initial reaction was that this was due to the recent surge in the price of gold. With gold going over $1,400 an ounce, VF and XF examples of the coin are now worth more for their gold content than they are for any numismatic value.

However, a recent article by gold coin expert Doug Winter makes the case that the recent interest could be due to coin promoters preparing to launch marketing campaigns based on 2011 being the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Being the largest gold coin type and with a mintage of almost 3 million, the 1861 Philadelphia double eagle is the poster child for any Civil War gold promotions. Lending credence to the Civil War theory, I have also seen an increase in the searches on 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 Philadelphia double eagles, but not nearly at the scale of the 1861.

But whatever the reasons, there is definitely a sudden interest in the coin. It remains to be seen whether this begins to show up as any gains in numismatic value. However, if you currently own an 1861-P double eagle, you may want to hang on to it.

Numismatic Holiday Gifts: Coin Collecting for Kids


Coin Collecting for Kids is hands-down the best coin collecting album out there for kids. I bought my first copy of this album for my son when he was 4. I was so impressed with it that I bought a second one as a gift for my 10 year old niece who was collecting Presidential dollars.

It is a cross between an album with coin slots to fill and an informational coin book.  It is filled with stories and facts about coins and coin collecting presented in a cartoonish manner that is appealing to kids (and adults).

Two years after that initial purchase, my son is still treating this book, and his coin collection in it, as a prized possession. And at a price close to $10, it is a very inexpensive way to get a child interested in coin collecting.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Numismatic Holiday Gifts: Coin Photography

Numismatic Photography is one of the most important numismatic books many coin collectors still don't have on their bookshelf.

Over the past decade, the internet and 3rd party grading services have changed the way we collect coins.

Today, more and more, our collections are built by coins that we purchase without ever having held the coin in our hands. Third-party grading gives us a sense of security that a coin is authentic and graded somewhat accurately, but it's the online photographs that give us an idea of what a coin truly looks like.

Photographing coins, especially those in slabs, has been a source of frustration for many of us collectors over the years, but there is a ray of hope.

Numismatic Photography by Mark Goodman is by far the best book on the subject. The tips and advice from Goodman's book has allowed my coin photos to evolve from some of the most mediocre and ugly photos, to some very beautiful and accurate photos of the coins in my collection. Using this book, I am now confident that I can take photos that accurately show the condition and coloring of my coins.

Most important, I don't need to buy expensive cameras and gear. A couple of cheap lights, a clear area on my desk, and my compact digital camera is all I need. All things I already had prior to purchasing the book.

Here is an example of a Moffat $10 eagle from the SS Central America shipwreck in a PCGS holder and graded X-40 that I photographed both before and after I read Goodman's book:


What a difference!

Now I no longer have to take my coins out of the bank in order to enjoy them or share them with others.

So if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for the coin collector in your family, you may want to give them a copy of Numismatic Photography by Mark Goodman.

Here are some links to other photos I created using tips from Goodman's book:

1904 50¢ Barber Half Dollar PCGS MS-66

1837 1¢ Merchants Exchange (HT-293) NGC MS-64BN

1852-O SS Republic $20 Gold Double Eagle NGC MS-61

1911-D/D St. Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle NGC MS-65


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