US Coins

Market Analysis: Damaged, but still quite desirable

Two SS “Central America” 1857-S Coronet gold double eagles in oversized PCGS slabs with Damage designations sold for $4,080 and $4,200 on Oct. 7.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The sophisticated cleaning and restoration techniques used in the SS Central America recovery mean that major grading services like Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Co. use regular grades on most of the recovered gold coins.

Coins of silver, a more reactive metal than gold, often carry a qualifier like “Shipwreck effect” to note their sometimes rough surfaces.

Among the most affordable of the big gold coins from the recovery are those with some damage, such as two PCGS-graded 1857-S Coronet gold $20 double eagles in oversized holders with a gold “pinch” that sold at Heritage’s Oct. 7 auction.

One was graded Uncirculated Details, Damage by PCGS and showed a circular band of obverse granularity in the fields, with an essentially problem-free reverse. Another, similarly graded with a Damage qualifier, featured a lovely obverse in attractive Mint State condition, while Heritage observed, “The reverse shows a curious polished circle just within the legend’s inner curve — a seemingly mechanical artifact of the salvage and/or conservation operations.”

The coins sold for $4,080 and $4,200, respectively.

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