Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Rainbow Toned Coins from Double Mint Sets

Each month, it seems, numismatic publications showcase rainbow-toned coins that sell for multiples of their values. In fact, Coin World just published a piece on an 1881-S Morgan dollar, graded MS66+ with toning resembling freckles, selling for a whopping $23,500!

Freckled toning usually occurs when coins are imprinted with patterns from cloth or canvas containers, as many Morgan dollars were when stored in Treasury bags.

Another source of incredible toning are paper and cardboard holders of double mint sets, sold by the US Mint during the years 1947-58.

I won the above coin in an eBay auction, paying $222.50. A 1958-D Franklin Half at MS66 with Full Bell Lines (FBL) is valued at $170, according to the PCGS Price Guide. But I think the toning—marvelous shades of green, red, blue, orange, gold and yellow—is worth the premium, especially as the holder also is graced by a CAC sticker signifying quality. 

You can find double mint sets on eBay and other auction portals. Often they go for high bids, so be prepared to pay a pretty penny, and you just may find such a cent like this one (offered at $1,198.99!) that also go for stellar prices. 

But also beware. Some unscrupulous sellers take out the rainbowed coins from double mint sets and replace them with artificially toned coins. So if you’re bidding on double mint sets, make sure the toning patterns are similar on all coins in each paper-cardboard holder. 

Or just bid as I did on coins holdered by PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG.

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