The Joys of Collecting column from the Nov. 30, 2015, issue of Coin World:
I have no idea how many Coronet gold $20 double eagles I and the companies with which I have been associated have handled, but the number is in the countless thousands.
Time was in the mid-1950s when common date coins of this type, 1850 to 1907, cost less than $40 each. Today, with the price of gold at about $1,100 per ounce, the entry level is about $1,300.
From that price point up to about $2,500 you can buy most of the dates and Mint marks from 1850 to 1907, the earlier ones in grades such as Very Fine and Extremely Fine and the later ones in Mint State.
As an overview, the “Type I” Coronet double eagles cover the years 1850 to 1866. Very Fine and Extremely Fine are usual grades.
Among these issues, the 1854-O and 1856-O coins are well-known rarities; the 1861-S Paquet Reverse (with tall letters) is somewhat scarce and highly interesting; and the Philadelphia Mint Paquet coin is ultra-rare. Such rarities aside, for less than $2,500 each you can buy nearly all of the Type I coins.
Type II Coronet double eagles, with IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse, were made only from 1866 to 1876. The 1870-CC coin, from the first year of the Carson City Mint, is a rarity, and the 1871-CC coin is somewhat elusive. All of the others are readily collectible.
If you seek Mint State coins you will find that MS-60 to MS-62 examples exist for many coins, and MS-63 examples for some pieces.
Really choice MS-64 and higher coins with minimal contact marks are very hard to find. No treasure ship hoards have been found to provide a supply.
Be aware of “gradeflation.” Many Coronet double eagles that were certified as About Uncirculated a couple decades ago are now labeled in lower Mint State grades. Connoisseurship is advised. Buy the coin, not the label.