US Coins

1864 Small Motto 2-cent, rarer of two first issues sold for $3,525

The 2-cent piece was first issued in 1864 and this Small Motto example brought $3,525 at Heritage’s Aug. 5 auction of the James E. Blake Collection.

Images courtesy Heritage Auctions

The following post is pulled from Coin World editor Steve Roach’s Market Analysis column in the Sept. 15 issue.

Major auctions like Heritage’s U.S. coins auction at the recent American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money are composed of many different collections. These collections have often been put together over the course of decades and can provide guidance on specialized areas of the market. 

One such collection offered was the James E. Blake Collection of 2-cent pieces, each graded Mint State 65 red and brown by Professional Coin Grading Service. The consignor (who prefers to remain anonymous) started collecting Liberty Head 5-cent pieces as a child and he eventually formed high-grade collections of the same coins he enjoyed as a young collector. 

His advice to collectors: Buy the best grade you can afford and “buy the key dates first whenever possible since they likely will have gone up in value by the time you complete the set.” 

Regarding quality, he reminds collectors to buy the coin and not the holder, meaning that collectors should make evaluations on quality for themselves, although he does recommend buying coins with Certified Acceptance Corp. stickers that indicate quality within the grade when possible. 

He further suggest that to maximize enjoyment, “don’t focus on the potential profit that your collection might yield when sold, but instead focus on the enjoyment of collecting and learning as much as you can about the coins in your collection.” 

Here is one of three analyses of recently sold 2-cent coins:

The coin: 1864 Small Motto 2-cent piece, MS-65 red and brown, CAC

The price: $3,525

The story: The 2-cent coin lasted just eight years. In 1864, the first year of issue, there were two types with variances in the size of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The rarer “Small Motto” subtype was produced first and is a key to the series. 

This one graded MS-65 red and brown had a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. 

According to the catalog, the piece is “sharply detailed and has smooth coruscating surfaces blended wheat-gold and tan-brown.” 

Coins with full Mint red color are nearly always worth more than those with mellow red and brown coloration or brown surfaces. In contrast, a different piece graded PCGS MS-65 brown with a green CAC sticker sold for $3,055 in a Feb. 3 Heritage auction, while a handsome PCGS MS-65 red example brought $5,287.50 at a Feb. 4 Heritage sale.

Read the rest of Steve Roach's Sept. 15 Market Analysis: 

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