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Philadelphia and San Francisco gold coins from the Civil War reconstruction era (1866-1878)

Owner:  Desert Gold
Last Modified:  11/26/2012
Set Description
The American Civil War (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States and several other names, was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). Led by Jefferson Davis, they fought against the U.S. federal government (the "Union"), which was supported by all the free states and the five border slave states.

The war, the deadliest in American history, caused 620,000 soldier deaths and an undetermined number of civilian casualties, ended slavery in the United States, restored the Union, and strengthened the role of the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted to 1877, and continued into the 20th century.


Set Goals
Gold coins from the American Civil War reconstruction era.

Slot Name
Item Description
Full Grade
Owner Comments
View Coin 1866-S $5 Motto United States $5 1866 S MOTTO PCGS AU 53 Deep honey gold with satisfying underlying lustre and fresh mint bloom in the protected areas. Tiny S mintmark. From the first year of the design type with IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse; San Francisco produced both types of the date. Scarcer in AU or finer than the mintage of 34,920 pieces suggests. PCGS has only graded three finer specimens, all AU-58. A condition rarity, certain to generate strong bids. From the Eliasberg Collection; Earlier from Bowers and Ruddy's sale of the United States Gold Coin Collection (Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.), October 1982, Lot 514; Barney Bluestone's sale of March 1941, Lot 415 at $8.80.
View Coin 1866-S $10 Motto United States $10 1866 S MOTTO NGC AU 53 With Motto variety. Two varieties of ten dollar gold pieces were made at the San Francisco mint in 1866: the No Motto (8,500 struck) and the With Motto (11,500 struck). The No Motto is scarcer but not by a vast margin. I have never seen or heard of an Uncirculated example and I think the number of properly graded AU coins numbers in the area of ten or so. This piece is lightly abraded with some luster and light orange-gold toning which is deeper at the edges than the centers. A few months ago, I was offered an inferior AU53 example of this variety for $11,500 by a knowledgeable but somewhat enthusiastic dealer. Looking back through my records, this is the finest 1866-S With Motto eagle I’ve handled since 2002 (when I sold an NGC AU55 to a collector). An important coin for the sophisticated specialist.
View Coin 1867 $5 Motto United States $5 1867 NGC AU 55 Only 6,870 examples of this date were minted and the survival rate is even lower than one might expect for a Reconstruction Era gold coin. I believe there are fewer than 100 known in all grades and this is confirmed by the fact that there are just 34 graded at PCGS and another 53 at NGC (that’s 87 “grading events” which could translate to as few as 40-50 distinct coins). This slightly reflective example has typical surfaces for the issue but it lacks any of the deep, poorly situated marks that characterize most higher graded 1867 half eagles. The color is a light rose gold and there are vestiges of dirt in the protected areas of the reverse. The last 1867 half eagle in AU55 to sell was Heritage 2011 FUN: 6915 (slabbed by NGC) which was extensively abraded and inferior to this piece; it sold for $3,594. For under $4,000, this is a fantastic value as it is not far removed from the Condition Census and it is a legitimately rare coin in this grade.
View Coin 1867-S $5 United States $5 1867 S NGC AU 55 1867-S $5 AU55 NGC. Despite a mintage of 29,000 coins, this is an extremely rare and underrated date in the Liberty half eagle series. This lovely light yellow-gold example has a few scattered marks and traces of highpoint wear that are consistent with the grade.
View Coin 1868-S $2.5 United States $2.5 1868 S NGC AU 58 This is exactly what you’d like all the coins in your collection to look like, if you specialize in coins that basically don’t exist in Uncirculated: ultra-choice sliders with a tiny amount of friction but with the look of an MS63. The coloration seen on this piece is fully original with lovely intense rose, green-gold and orange-hues while the surfaces have the satiny luster typical to this date. While I do not know this for certain, it is my belief that there was a small hoard of this date that broke a few years ago as I have seen a number of 1868-S quarter eagles with a similar look. A splendid example of this tougher issue.
View Coin 1868-S $5 United States $5 1868 S NGC AU 58 Near-Mint 1868-S Half Eagle. Only Two Finer Coins at NGC. The 1868-S Liberty half eagle is a prime condition rarity, from a mintage of 52,000 pieces. This attractive near-Mint specimen shows just a touch of wear on the high points of the design elements, with lightly abraded yellow-gold surfaces and slightly subdued mint luster.
View Coin 1869 G$1 United States G$1 1869 NGC MS 61 1869 MS-61 (NGC).

A sharply struck example of this low-mintage issue. Significant mint lustre is seen in protected areas, while the fields show light wear.
View Coin 1869 $10 United States $10 1869 NGC AU 55 A rare find in all grades, the 1869 Eagle has an original business strike mintage of just 1,830 pieces. Also conditionally rare at the Choice AU level, the coin that we are offering here would serve with distinction in an advanced gold collection. Even honey-gold color blankets both sides, the surfaces brightening to more of a medium-gold appearance when the coin dips into a light. Still sharply defined despite light highpoint rub, there are also no individually mentionable abrasions even though the surfaces present as overall scuffy from circulation. The 1869 compares favorably in the rarity category to other highly regarded Liberty Eagles such as the 1858, 1859-O, 1863-S and 1866-S Motto.
View Coin 1870 $3 United States $3 1870 PCGS MS 62 1870 MS-62 (PCGS).
A lovely specimen of the 1870 $3, with most luster still intact on both sides. Some handling marks as expected. Warm yellow-gold color. PCGS Population: 14; 8 finer (MS-64 finest).
View Coin 1870-S $10 United States $10 1870 S NGC AU 55 With only a single Mint State survivor known to exist, the 1870-S Eagle is also an extremely important find at the Choice AU grade level. This heavily circulated, frontier-era issue is also very rare in AU-55 and AU-58, however, and such pieces just do not trade all that often even in the most active numismatic markets. An important find for the specialized collector, the present example is minimally worn with dominant rose-gold color to both sides. The obverse also exhibits warmer copper-russet highlights around the peripheral devices. Boldly defined with only light highpoint rub and no sizeable or otherwise worrisome abrasions. Original mintage: just 8,000 pieces.
View Coin 1871 $5 United States $5 1871 NGC AU 58 With the mints focusing on double eagle coinage, lower denomination gold pieces were largely ignored, hence only 3,200 half eagles were struck at Philadelphia in 1871. Many of that number saw extensive circulation, which makes this AU58 example one of a select few. This sharply struck piece exhibits lovely orange-yellow toning, and lots of gleaming luster in the fields. The surfaces show a number of light abrasions, but none are particularly noteworthy. A delightful, better grade example of this rare issue.
View Coin 1871-S $5 United States $5 1871 S NGC AU 55 Challenging Choice AU 1871-S Half Eagle. The first 1 and the 7 in the date are repunched. Orange-gold patina covers both sides, with some minor areas of verdigris around the devices. The fields show traces of luster, and there are no mentionable marks. The 1871-S five is a very scarce issue with a mintage of only 25,000 pieces.
View Coin 1871 $10 United States $10 1871 NGC AU 58 Business strike production of Eagles dipped to just 1,790 pieces at the Philadelphia Mint in 1871--one of the lowest total in the entire long-lived Liberty series. This is an understandably rare coin at all levels of preservation, and survivors are typically confined to VF and lower grades. A lone PCGS MS-60 represents the entire extant population of the 1871 in Mint State. All but unsurpassable in technical quality for an example of this extremely challenging issue, this near-Mint survivor would serve as a highlight in any advanced collection. Rich, deeply set, honey-gold color warms to more of a rose-gold cast when the surfaces dip into a light. There is only minimal highpoint rub and light friction in the fields, with the result that both sides retain sharp striking detail and nearly complete satin luster. Scattered abrasions are mostly commensurate with the grade, although a thin graze in the upper-left obverse field is perhaps worthy of attention. Highly desirable, nonetheless, and a definite highlight of the gold offerings in this sale.
View Coin 1872 $5 United States $5 1872 NGC AU 58 The tiny mintage of 1,660 business strikes results in examples that generally show surfaces that are at least partially prooflike. This piece is no exception, with semi-prooflikeness evident on both sides, despite a short spate of circulation. The coloration is an attractive deep orange-gold, and the design elements are well brought up.
View Coin 1872-S $10 United States $10 1872 S NGC AU 58 1872-S Liberty Eagle, AU58, Rare in High Grade. From a tiny mintage of 17,300 pieces, the 1872-S Liberty eagle is rare in high grade, and examples in AU58 condition are quite elusive. The present coin shows just a touch of wear on the well-detailed devices, and the lightly abraded surfaces display subtle mint luster.
View Coin 1872-S $10 United States $10 1872 S NGC AU 55 Lovely 1872-S Eagle, AU55, 1872-S $10 AU55 NGC. Between a low mintage of 17,300 pieces and a high attrition rate, the 1872-S eagle is part of a long string of conditionally rare San Francisco tens. This piece shows only light rub on faintly abraded but still-lustrous yellow-orange surfaces.
View Coin 1873-S $5 United States $5 1873 S NGC AU 55 The 31,000 piece 1873-S is scarce in most grades, and is virtually unobtainable in Mint State, where only one coin has been certified, an NGC MS61. The Choice AU example in this sale displays bright yellow-gold surfaces tinted with red, with traces of luster in the recesses. Generally well defined, with just a few minuscule marks.
View Coin 1874 $5 United States $5 1874 NGC AU 58 Appealing Near-Mint 1874 Five, 1874 $5 AU58 NGC. With just 3,488 business strikes produced, the Philadelphia Mint was third in half eagle production for 1874, behind both Carson City and San Francisco. This near-Mint piece is lustrous yellow-orange with glimmers of watery reflectivity in the reverse fields. NGC and PCGS have graded just six Mint State coins between them.
View Coin 1874-S $5 United States $5 1874 S WEAK S PCGS AU 50 Partly Lustrous AU 1874-S Five: 1874-S $5 AU50 PCGS. CAC. Canary-gold luster fills the margins and plumage of this much better date San Francisco half eagle. The open fields are olive-gold. Relatively unabraded aside from a brief slender mark near star 2. Neither PCGS nor NGC have certified any examples as Mint State.
View Coin 1874-S $10 United States $10 1874 S NGC AU 55 Scarce, Low Mintage Issue The 1874-S Liberty Head eagle is a scarce, low-mintage date most often seen in lower circulated grades. Examples in AU55 are very rare and the issue is unknown in Mint State. The present coin shows light wear on the high points of the design, with most original detail still present. Significant mint luster remains on the lightly abraded surfaces.
View Coin 1875-S $2.5 United States $2.5 1875 S NGC MS 62 Uncirculated 1875-S Quarter Eagle; Among Eight Finest Graded by NGC
Lustrous honey gold with rich rose and fiery orange highlights. Careful inspection reveals a Liberty quarter eagle that is easily worthy of another grading point, at least to the present Stack’s writer (who has been cataloguing Liberty gold here in NH since 1987). The strike is bold and the surfaces are free of all but a few trivial disturbances. From a modest mintage for the date of just 11,600 pieces, most of which became workhorses in the northern California economy of the era; the other issuing mint of the date, Philadelphia, produced a tiny circulation strike mintage of just 400 pieces! Among the eight finest examples of the date seen thus far by NGC and worthy of note as such.
View Coin 1875-s $5 United States $5 1875 S NGC AU 55 1875-S Half Eagle, Choice AU - Lovely Orange-Gold Color. Another low-mintage issue, the 1875-S half eagle saw only 9,000 coins produced, and most circulated widely. This Choice AU example is far finer than usually seen, with lovely orange-gold color, only minor signs of contact, and a decent strike, save for softness on the motto. Low-mintage Western gold specialists will be on the alert for this piece.
View Coin 1876-S $2.5 United States $2.5 1876 S PCGS MS 62 1876-S $2 1/2 MS62 PCGS. An impressive Mint State 1876-S quarter eagle with lovely light yellow luster and sharp obverse and reverse design motifs, except for the eagle's left (facing) leg, a feature that is almost always weakly defined. PCGS has only certified 23 Mint State quarter eagles of the date, including eight Philadelphia Mint coins and 15 San Francisco Mint coins. Choices are few for the date collector or date and mintmark specialist.
View Coin 1876 $5 United States $5 1876 NGC AU 58 1876 $5 Liberty. NGC graded AU-58. Untoned with some luster still visable. Very scarce date. 1,432 minted. An elevated degree of luster springs to life beneath bright gold and somewhat granular highlights due to surface contact with other coins. Yielding only one time at the reverse on the eagle's neck feathers, more detail can be found here than on the typical example of the rare 1876 date. A carefully graded example that should attract bidding attention. From The Steve Glenn Collection.
View Coin 1876-S $10 United States $10 1876 S NGC AU 55 Another highly elusive frontier-era gold issue that is unknown in Mint State, the 1876-S Eagle has an original mintage of just 5,000 pieces. An above-average survivor, this Choice AU is only lightly worn over bold, partially lustrous features. Richly colored in olive-khaki and reddish-orange shades, with mostly small abrasions that do not inhibit the eye appeal.
View Coin 1877-S $5 United States $5 1877 S NGC AU 58 1877-S $5 AU58 NGC. This San Francisco issue is highly elusive in Mint State grades; only three such pieces appear in the combined certified population (3/08). This lovely near-Mint piece has shining lemon-gold fields that offer subtle reflectivity. The well-defined central devices exhibit just a trace of friction, and the surfaces are minimally marked overall.
View Coin 1878-S $10 United States $10 1878 S PCGS AU 55 1878-S $10 AU55 PCGS. CAC. The low mintage and very scarce 1878-S is typically seen in XF, although a few Mint State pieces are known. This Choice AU example has a good strike and ample apricot-tinged luster. No marks individually detract.

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