Collectors covet 'dirty' 1911-D Indian Head gold $5
- Published: May 4, 2017, 7 AM
The About Uncirculated grade encompasses a wide range of coins. At the low end are AU-50 pieces that are just barely better than Extremely Fine, with weak luster and blah overall eye appeal. At the high-end are AU-58 coins that are often much more attractive than their low-end Mint State counterparts. The incentive for collectors to clean or otherwise attempt to improve AU-58 coins with the hope of getting them into an MS-61 or MS-62 holder is great, and collectors are increasingly willing to pay strong prices for high-end AU-58 pieces.
Here's the second of three examples from Heritage’s April 4 to 6 auction in Dallas that we profile this week:
‘Dirty’ 1911-D Indian Head gold $5 half eagle, NGC About Uncirculated 58+
New collectors may be baffled when they hear a gold coin described in glowing tones as “dirty,” as though it were a desirable trait. A coin that looks “dirty” often has what numismatists covet: original surfaces.
Especially in the About Uncirculated grade, many gold coins have been stripped of their original surfaces to become shiny and bright, with the hope of getting a coin into a Mint State holder. Many retail coin buyers prefer these bright coins, providing market incentives for dealers to tamper with original surfaces.
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This 1911-D Indian Head gold $5 half eagle graded About Uncirculated 58+ by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. has appealing “dirty” gold surfaces, described in the catalog as “varying shades of pale yellow and khaki-gold.”
’Numismatic Bookie’ tackles how an 1804 dollar appeared in a Budapest book before any were struck: Inside Coin World: This week, we find an 1804 dollar in a book two years before any of the coins were struck.
While not as rare as the 1911-D Indian Head quarter eagle (also struck at the Denver Mint), the 1911-D half eagle is considered a tougher date in its series. This one sold for $4,230 on April 4. Looking at the next grade up shows the incentive for an individual to try to “improve” it, since low-end Mint State examples sell for twice that amount.
Keep Reading About Lightly Circulated Rarities:
When a Mint State coin is rare, collectors turn to pretty, lightly circulated examples: Prices have slowly increased over time for attractive About Uncirculated "near-Mint" examples of the 1891 Coronet double eagle.
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