The past decade has seen a steady increase in prices for many
better-date Indian Head 5-cent coins in circulated grades.
Typically collectors think of “investment quality” coins as being
only solid high-grade Mint State pieces. But a look at key circulated
Indian Head 5-cent pieces shows that many have enjoyed solid gains in
value over the past decade. One reason for this is that third-party
certification has made the scarcity of many of these issues in
problem-free grades more apparent as collector coins in a broader
range get certified.
Take for example the 1918/7-D Indian Head 5-cent coin. A decade ago
circulated examples in Very Good 8 were at the $600 level. Today a
nice VG-8 piece would cost double that. On May 31, 2012, Heritage sold
a Professional Coin Grading Service example in this grade for $1,265;
in 2010 this same coin realized $1,380.
Another overdate has not fared as well. The 1914/3 variety is a
relatively recent discovery that remained hidden in plain sight until
1996. The overdate is not as strong as on the 1918/7-D 5-cent coin,
and prices in most lower circulated grades have remained stable over
the past decade. In grades of Extremely Fine and finer the prices for
the 1914/3 coin have moved upwards. At a January 2012 David Lawrence
auction a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. EF-40 example realized $920, while
Heritage sold comparable examples in 2006 and 2000 at $690 and $675, respectively.
The famed 1937-D Indian Head, Three-Legged Bison variety has seen an
explosion in price over the past decade. A decade ago a nice Fine 12
example would cost around $300, but today at auction these routinely
bring $550 and more. Nice EF-40 examples used to be at the $450 level,
but today handsome examples can reach the $1,000 level.
The run-up in prices for circulated examples is not limited just to
varieties. The 1913-S Indian Head, Bison on Plain (Type Two) 5-cent
piece has long been expensive, but a decade ago, while nice Fine
examples might bring $200, solid Extremely Fine pieces would sell at
the $300 level. Today the jump is more dramatic, with nice Fine 12
examples trading at the $350 level, Very Fine 20 coins moving for $400
at auction and EF-40 examples selling at the $500 level.
Not all keys have shown tremendous growth. The 1924-S coin is a
series key in grades finer than Very Fine, yet it has been fairly
stable in price. A decade ago EF-40 examples traded at the $800 level
and at a March 11, 2012, Heritage auction one graded PCGS EF-40
Thankfully, prices have remained stable and reasonable for those
searching for great type coins such as the 1913 Indian Head, Bison on
Mound (Type One) or the 1938-D coins. Exceptional examples of 1913
Bison on Mound 5-cent pieces in MS-65 can be purchased at the $125
level while handsome brilliant MS-65 1938-D Indian 5-cent pieces sell
at online auctions for as little as $35. ■