US Coins

Market Analysis: Big prices for low grades

A conservatively graded 1798 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle silver dollar of the scarce BB-91 marriage, graded About Good 3 sold for $3,600 at Heritage’s January FUN auctions in Dallas.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Lots of attention is focused on the top grades in the market: those coins that approach perfection.

But for many collectors, the charm of a well-worn coin is undeniable. Some examples from Heritage’s recent January Florida United Numismatists auctions — relocated to Dallas — show that even coins in the lowest grades still have broad appeal.

Heavily circulated early U.S. coins from the first decade of the Philadelphia Mint can be tricky to grade, as they often have striking deficiencies that result in weak details.

Take, for example, this 1798 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle dollar, listed as BB-91 in the early dollar reference. Heritage writes on the dollar, graded About Good 3 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., “This coin is rather harshly graded as the weakness on the upper left obverse is characteristic of this die variety and not caused by wear.”

Its provenance includes a stint in the Jules Reiver Collection. The handsome issue, representing a very scarce variety and with a planchet flaw on the rim near the final A in AMERICA, sold for $3,600.

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