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Updated with Installment 2 on 4-16-13 (scroll down to see new installment)

Liz Coggan's Favorite Coins of the 20th Century

Why the list?  Many collectors turn to experienced numismatists seeking guidance as to what areas of the market they should collect and why.  The decades of  experience my involvement with market highs, lows, twists and turns, along with my activity at shows and contributions to pricing for the Guide Book of United States Coinage and attendance at major auctions, have allowed me to gain a lot of market knowledge.  Additionally, my years of tracking down coins for want list and talking with countless collectors, have given me a true appreciation for what coins are truly scarce and rare and therefore desirable in various states of preservation. Armed with this knowledge, I have assembled my list of favorite 20th Century coins.  This is a multi-part series, so please come back frequently to see additions I make to my "PICKS and FAVORITES".  

About the List:  First and foremost, this is MY list.  A list of favorites compiled by another experienced numismatist might be very different, but if they have spent many years working with collectors, I doubt they would question why certain coins are on my list.  

Meritorious In Most Grades:  Without exception, my favorite coins will provide satisfaction of ownership in most any grade. Certainly every collector should obtain the best quality coins they can afford.  During the last few decades, far too much attention has been paid of the grade of coins while often overlooking the time-proven numismatic significance.  If a coin only seems desirable in a certain grade or higher, than making another choice, like one of my favorites, might prove to have greater value in your collection.  

Bang for the Bucks:  As a professional numismatist who spends lots of time analyzing coin values, my favorite coins must be those that I believe are fairly valued at current levels. Or, if they can be found, represent an outstanding acquisition.

Skip the Eye Candy:  The intention is to present my favorites list in a concise format that prompts you to do further research.  Dig into your favorite reference books.  Search the internet.  See if study prompts you to add some of my favorites to your most wanted list. 

More Equal Than Others:  I've arranged my favorites with no attempt to rank the choices. I've intentionally jumped around the denominations to hopefully hold your interest.  Your preferences, based on any variety of factors, should determine which coins you add to your collection.  For me, all of these choices are winners.  

MY FAVORITES:

Installment 1

1909-S Indian Head Cent. While the San Francisco Mint had been making coins since 1854, it wasn't until 1908 that it was decided to let them produce cents, thus alleviating the need for the Philadelphia Mint to ship coins all the way from the east coast to meet the needs of the Western states. 

1909 was a transitional year with the first of the new Lincoln Cents entering circulation in August of that year.  The new coins created a nationwide frenzy of interest and the familiar Indian cents were forgotten.  

While the 1909-S Indian has a lower mintage than the 1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln, it is considerably less popular with the majority of collectors. Supply and demand governs any comparison of the two issues.  The 1909-S Indian cent, unlike the Lincoln, were not hoarded and coins retaining some or all of their mint red are much more difficult to find.  Some of these Indian cents were also struck on poorly annealed planchets resulting in variations in color seen as streakiness.  

While a nice acquisition in all grades, depending on the budget my choice is to seek About Uncirculated or better quality with nearly or full mint red coins being the obvious prize. 

1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln Cent. Why is this coin on my favorites list?  It's not a truly rare coin.  High grade examples are reasonably available.  The coin is certainly not under appreciated in the marketplace.  

The 1909-S V.D.B. is listed because it is a great coin to own.  Until the Wheat cents disappeared from circulation, every young collector dreamed of finding one of these legendary coins in pocket change.  To the majority, owning this coin makes you a special collector.  In this case, the majority is right.  Owning an S V.D.B. is any grade is an enjoyable, fun experience.  To find the best value and potential for value appreciation, I suggest obtaining Extremely Fine to MS-65 Red and Brown grade coins.  Buying coins with well defined V.D.B. initials is a must.  

Collecting Note:  I'm a big fan of Transitional Date sets.  A tidy and interesting set would be to combine the Indian and Lincoln cents of 1909 into a well matched six coin collection.  

1909, 1910, 1914 and 1915 Indian Head $2.5 Gold:  With the exception of the 1914, these dates are considered common, but in certain grades, are much scarcer than expected.  My choice is to find fully lustrous, "flashy" coins ni the MS-62 or 63 grades.  

1909-S, 1912-S, 1913-S, 1914-S and 1915-S Indian $5 Gold:  These dates are traded as common issues up to AU-55 grade.  Above that, they become much harder to find.  My choice is AU-58 to MS-62 grades.  Look for coins with attractive orange peel patina.

$5 Indian Type Coin MS-63

I have found the $5 Indian gold coin to be one of, if not the most, over-graded coins when it comes to distinguishing an About Uncirculated (used) from an Uncirculated (new) grade coin.  Due to the design, the luster on these coins is fragile with even slight  friction causing breaks in this "skin" and disqualifying the coin as uncirculated.  

With the exception of the 1909-D date, a "frosty and fresh" looking $5 Indian has been a difficult coin to find.  This scarcity goes back many decades.  When selecting an MS-63 as a type coin, the eye appeal is critical.  It should have that "no doubt about it" look.  

Updated 4-16-2013 

Installment 2: 

1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent

What a magnificent blunder!  Even glancing at the coin proves that something went very wrong.  Aside from being a scarce and highly collectible mint error, the 1955 Doubled Die prompted a huge interest in mint errors and the awareness that even new coins found in pocket could yield a bonanza.  The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent was responsible for introducing many new collectors to the hobby.  It may not be the king of errors but the 1955 Doubled Die is easily the most well know and popular.

Like the 1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln cent, only a few collectors will ever enjoy the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from owning a 1955 Doubled die.  It 's another of my fun favorites. After all, shouldn't coin collection be fun?

My choice might surprise. I suggest Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated grades with glossy brown surfaces. The higher grades with portions of mint red often lack eye appeal. The few full red examples seem too expensive.  

1919-D and 1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollars

That the 1921-D is a favorite might be expected.  Based on my experience, the 1919-D with a full strike is one of the toughest issues to find and just as scarce as the 1921-D.  Both coins should be acquired in VF-30 or finer grades.  perhaps the best combination of quality and price is found in the AU-55 and AU-58 grades.  This can be said for many 1933-S and earlier Walkers.  It's fortunate for collectors that many of the coins in the set experienced slight circulation before being saved.  You get most of the luster and look at a fraction of the Uncirculated price.  

So how do you make some of my favorites YOUR favorites?

Any of My Favorite coins can be acquired by using our Monthly Acquisition Program based on a  want list.  For example, I'd recommend building a complete 1916 to 1933-S Walking Liberty set in the grades I suggested.  This could be done at a monthly or quicker pace.  If you have a interest in any of the coins on My Favorites list, please give me a call at 1-800-343-6412 or send an email to liz@jjteaparty.com. One of the reason these coins are on my list is they are hard to find.  Selecting just the right coins that I know you will be proud of is no easy task.  

1923-S and 1928-S Walking Liberty Half Dollars

If you don't care to tackle the entire1933-S and before set, the 1923-S and 1928-S are another pair of must have coins.  These are underrated, difficult to find nice, and always sell quickly when we have them.  You might wonder why I pick such tough coins, but I really like them.  Shoot for EF-40 or better on these two dates.

1912-S Liberty Head Nickel

This incredibly underrated coin in grades better than Fine is one of my all time favorites.  I recommend buying Extremely Fine or better quality.  I've found nice examples are scarcer than the 1885 and 1886.  Are you surprised?

1913-1916 Matte Proof Buffalo Nickel Type Coin

These coins really have it all.  A small mintage and struck with distinctive dies that added a slightly granular appearance to purposely rugged looking design elements.  These coins are currently quite affordable.  My choice is to find a Proof-63 to Proof-65 example with attractive toning.  The 1913 Type I, being the first year, is the date I like best.  

1915-S and 1921-S Buffalo Nickels

The Buffalo Nickel set has always been a difficult one to build with a wide variety of production differences complicating the selection process.  A coin deserving a higher technical grade might actually be less desirable than a lower grade piece.  When venturing into the marketplace for higher grade coins, it is often best to seek expert guidance on a coin by coin basis.  There is a lot to learn and lot to know.  

Within the entire series my two favorite coins are the 1915-S and 1921-S.  These two are often overlooked as tougher coins to find with nice strikes an luster in Extremely Fine or better grades.  The 1918/7-D, 1924-S and 1926-S tend to get the most press but for my money I choose the 1915-s and 1921-S. 

1907 Saint-Gaudens, MCMVII High Relief $20 Gold

Perhaps the most desired coin of the 20th century.  A beautiful design that shows best in this high relief.  A classic coin but not so scarce as to be prohibitive.  Availability is further improved because numerous examples were slightly circulated or carelessly handled resulting in attractive AU coins. This is another of my favorites coins where ownership provides a unique experience.  

It is best of purchase this coin in either AU or MS-63 and better grades.  The overall appearance is as important as the grade. 

Stay tuned for Installment 3. . . .

Questions, comments and inquiries are welcome and should be directed to liz@jjteaparty.com.  Or if you would like to chat about any of these issues or series I mention, please call me toll-free at 1-800-343-6412.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Best wishes, Liz Coggan

 

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