• Michael Bugeja

    Online Coin Auctions

    Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood and professor of journalism, guides new and beginning collectors through fun-packed and enriching experiences in "Home Hobbyist."

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  • Beware of ‘removed from jewelry’ gold

    This 1859 $3 gold coin has telltale jewelry marks, reducing its value.

    Images provided by Michael Bugeja.

    Recently this desirable coin with a mintage of only 15,558 pieces was offered in a HiBid.com auction with a description on the flip about being “extremely rare” but without the phrase “removed from jewelry.”

    You can see where the bezel or band was soldered to the coin, at six o’clock on the obverse and twelve o’clock on the reverse.

    Without those marks, in very fine condition, the coin would retail for about $1,150. But you can subtract about $525 from that amount because of the damaged state of this coin. That’s how much a similar coin sold for in a David Lawrence auction.

    When I spotted the flaw, I contacted the auctioneer, and she corrected the description to note that it was removed from jewelry.

    It sold for $380 in an Auctions by Wallace session. Actually, that’s a fair price, perhaps even a good bargain, given the low mintage.

    A similar flaw involving jewelry is more difficult to spot. It typically entails a hole through which a gold necklace once was strung. Some owners of such coins fill and smooth the hole so that the coin looks like it never had been damaged.

    Most numismatists can easily spot that repair, but with questionable photos and descriptions in some online auctions, a hobbyist can fall for the ruse, sending in the coin for holdering, only to get back a slab that states, “Hole/Plug,” as for this 1859 $3 coin that then sold for $423 in a 2015 Heritage auction.

    Because of the specter of counterfeits, which abound among $3 gold coins, I recommend bidding on only those slabbed by reputable companies, such as PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG.