Home U.S. Coin Forum

1880's Seated Liberty Half Dollars - Value versus mintage

CoinPhysicistCoinPhysicist Posts: 597 ✭✭✭✭
edited October 13, 2020 12:50PM in U.S. Coin Forum

I've been moving backwards in time with my half dollar type set and now that I've finished the 20th century up to Barbers, I'm looking at seated liberty. There are seemingly a ton of different designs required. It seems really odd to me that so many of the 1880's issues have mintages of just 4000 or 5000, yet somehow they are nearly affordable for a modest type coin. If this was just about any other series, these coins would all be key dates with astronomical prices. What is going on here that I'm missing?

Successful transactions with: wondercoin, Tetromibi, PerryHall, PlatinumDuck, JohnMaben/Pegasus Coin & Jewelry, CoinFlip, and coinlieutenant.

Comments

  • dogwooddogwood Posts: 1,935 ✭✭✭✭

    Apparently the P mints didn’t circulate and those dates are represented by Proofs. Finding nice original VFs and XFs are where the sport is.
    Quarters from the era as well.

    We're all born MS70. I'm about a Fine 15 right now.
  • mannie graymannie gray Posts: 7,259 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think quite a few of the low mintage dates were saved around the time of issue.
    Without looking it up I would wager it's easier to find a proof/UNC than a circ coin for the majority of the dates you mentioned.
    Plus the fact that there is a very limited number of seated half date collectors.

  • SmudgeSmudge Posts: 9,242 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Popularity trumps scarcity. Same is true with Liberty $2.50 coins from Philadelphia in the 1840’s. The survival numbers on the plain 48 are lower than the CAL issue, but wow what a difference in price.

  • ElcontadorElcontador Posts: 7,416 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A number of them are PL as well.

    "Vou invadir o Nordeste,
    "Seu cabra da peste,
    "Sou Mangueira......."
  • amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 11,269 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm sure they do have a high survival rate which helps to keep them reasonably affordable. That said they have always been easy sellers every time I've been able to get my mitts on them at a reasonable price.

  • mannie graymannie gray Posts: 7,259 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Elcontador said:
    A number of them are PL as well.

    And many are hard to attribute as either.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting....I had not thought of these as a set, and I like them. I will look at this a bit more... Promised myself I was not going to do any more sets....Oh well, won't be the first self-promise I have broken :D Cheers, RickO

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,365 ✭✭✭✭✭

    These dates aren't rare in higher grades for the series. The mintages are very low but the survival rates in high quality are not, presumably due to somewhat more collecting later in the series, concentration of collectors on the east coast, and a general awareness of the mintage.

    I don't recall the survival estimates offhand (from Coin Facts) but I doubt it's lower than the number who collect the entire series which I infer is quite low. I also doubt that most type collectors choose one of these dates as their first choice either because nice examples don't come cheap. If true, this probably leaves a noticeable percentage who buy it because they think it should be worth more later.

    With so many collectors of US coinage, there aren't many actually "under appreciated" coins out there. There is almost always a good explanation for the relative price.

  • pursuitoflibertypursuitofliberty Posts: 6,591 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CoinPhysicist Interesting thread, and similar (sort of) to one I posted about a NEWP I received in late August. That coin was an 1879 Half, with 1879 being kind of the start of the change in mintages for the larger fractional silver coins.

    If you're interested, check here
    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/1043188/low-mintage-seated-liberty-half#latest

    I think the fact that higher grade examples exist to some abundance, and that problem-free, mid-grade examples seem to be rarer then hen's teeth in most cases, makes for an unusual demand scenario, almost unique to their run. Other than some areas of gold where hoards of Unc's were found of very scarce dates, I can't think of another situation similar. Population Reports are fairly skewed, as we know, but looking though the Pop's on these particular coins can help paint a picture.

    If you have the desire and the means to obtain a nice Unc', they exist in all dates, and tend to become available at reasonable intervals. They garner decent money compared to common type, but as a group, they are not nearly as rare as some of the higher mintage dates in Uncirculated grades, and they do not command the premiums the truly scarce Uncirculated coins command, despite their miniscule mintages.

    Change that statement to finding problem-free VF to Choice EF/AU coins, and the 1879 through 1889 Halves and Quarters are truly rare to find, due in large part to their miniscule mintages. From what I have seen over the years, those that collect them are quick to pay up (and up, and sometimes way, WAY, WWAAAYYYY up!) when necessary if a good coin becomes available.

    My 2 bits, anyway ...


    “We are only their care-takers,” he posed, “if we take good care of them, then centuries from now they may still be here … ”

    Todd - BHNC #242
  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,381 ✭✭✭✭✭

    They used to be really cheap until Dick Osborn promoted them during the 90s. Back in his NASA days he made a mint off them in his mail order business.

  • ernie11ernie11 Posts: 1,902 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:
    These dates aren't rare in higher grades for the series. The mintages are very low but the survival rates in high quality are not, presumably due to somewhat more collecting later in the series, concentration of collectors on the east coast, and a general awareness of the mintage.

    I don't recall the survival estimates offhand (from Coin Facts) but I doubt it's lower than the number who collect the entire series which I infer is quite low. I also doubt that most type collectors choose one of these dates as their first choice either because nice examples don't come cheap. If true, this probably leaves a noticeable percentage who buy it because they think it should be worth more later.

    With so many collectors of US coinage, there aren't many actually "under appreciated" coins out there. There is almost always a good explanation for the relative price.

    A few months back, I was digging around into survival estimates in Coin Facts for these years, and the aggregate total ranged on either side of 1,000, I think. 900 was the lowest estimate I saw, which was for the 1882. So overall, these are not rare, just scarce. In high MS, like 67's, they are not easy to find.

  • ElmerFusterpuckElmerFusterpuck Posts: 4,627 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Finding these dates in nice circulated condition can be a bear. While it appears the survival rate is high relative to their mintage, they are still way tougher to find then let's say an 1858-O. So far, I have the 1879, 1880, 1883 (in MS), 1888, 1889 and 1890. I usually don't see the 1891 lumped in with this crowd, due to the higher mintage.

  • cnncoinscnncoins Posts: 414 ✭✭✭✭

    Original problem free VF-AU+ in both quarters and halves are very tough. Brian Greer has probably handled as many as anyone in the last 30 years and I suspect he knows exactly which dates are the toughest to locate. I have handled many gems of these dates in the last 35+ years, but very few in nice higher circ grades.

  • Walkerguy21DWalkerguy21D Posts: 11,142 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Some years ago I embarked on assembling a nice mid-grade seated half collection. After several years, I acquired 40-some odd coins, but none of them were later than 1878. I just never came across any.

    Successful BST transactions with 170 members. Recent: Tonedeaf, Shane6596, Piano1, Ikenefic, RG, PCGSPhoto, stman, Don'tTelltheWife, Boosibri, Ron1968, snowequities, VTchaser, jrt103, SurfinxHI, 78saen, bp777, FHC, RYK, JTHawaii, Opportunity, Kliao, bigtime36, skanderbeg, split37, thebigeng, acloco, Toninginthblood, OKCC, braddick, Coinflip, robcool, fastfreddie, tightbudget, DBSTrader2, nickelsciolist, relaxn, Eagle eye, soldi, silverman68, ElKevvo, sawyerjosh, Schmitz7, talkingwalnut2, konsole, sharkman987, sniocsu, comma, jesbroken, David1234, biosolar, Sullykerry, Moldnut, erwindoc, MichaelDixon, GotTheBug
  • amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 11,269 ✭✭✭✭✭

    With the Halves I'm pretty sure it's the 1886.

    @cnncoins said:
    Original problem free VF-AU+ in both quarters and halves are very tough. Brian Greer has probably handled as many as anyone in the last 30 years and I suspect he knows exactly which dates are the toughest to locate. I have handled many gems of these dates in the last 35+ years, but very few in nice higher circ grades.

  • HalfhoundHalfhound Posts: 24 ✭✭✭

    Would pick the following order > 1887, 1885, 1884, 1882, 1886, 1883, 1880, 1879, 1881, 1890, 1888, & 1889.

    @amwldcoin said:
    With the Halves I'm pretty sure it's the 1886.

    @cnncoins said:
    Original problem free VF-AU+ in both quarters and halves are very tough. Brian Greer has probably handled as many as anyone in the last 30 years and I suspect he knows exactly which dates are the toughest to locate. I have handled many gems of these dates in the last 35+ years, but very few in nice higher circ grades.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,933 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The coins of that period had a very high survival rate. Many were originally obtained by collectors and dealers of that era. The low mintages were the draw.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • coinlieutenantcoinlieutenant Posts: 9,305 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great discussion.

    I think for the purist, there is a ranking....but in general, due to demand, they are pretty much equal in measure. Maybe the 1886 would be a "cherrypick" from the group or the 1880.

    If I were picking a with motto half that was not a type coin, I would go for a perfect original mintmarked CC or S mint from the 60s or 70s. Interesting, no pressure from the proofs on demand and a cherry outside of mintage.

  • RichieURichRichieURich Posts: 8,369 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It depends on what you are looking for. I had one client looking for a nice AU 1881, and another client looking for a low mint state 1890, and both took a couple years to find.

    An authorized PCGS dealer, and a contributor to the Red Book.

  • PickwickjrPickwickjr Posts: 556 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would suggest joining the LSCC its a great club.
    If you go on the website Dennis just wrote a good article that talks about the 1880’s.
    A great series to collect. Here’s my type set piece that’s a gem vf35 cac
    Good luck with the new journey.


  • HalfhoundHalfhound Posts: 24 ✭✭✭

    Definitely a moving target. After almost five years of searching every website and attending many shows I finally finished the last 13 year run in circulated grades from VG to XF with VF being my primary focus. At first, I was going to blow off the entire run and call it done at 1878. Then I had a change of heart and found a really nice 1889 and said WTF, might as well continue, and I'm glad I did as it was a lot of fun. I will say it's not cheap, and I could have finished it sooner taking AU, MS, and Proof examples into the mix, but the circulated coins are true survivors and finding choice ones is a real challenge. How many are really out there? So that said, my order of chosen difficulty is solely based on my experience over those five years.

    P.S. Great to hear from you Rich, really missed you at the shows in the last few years (before current circumstances) and thanks again for the choice 1887.

    Cheers....

    @RichieURich said:
    It depends on what you are looking for. I had one client looking for a nice AU 1881, and another client looking for a low mint state 1890, and both took a couple years to find.

  • amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 11,269 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I assume that was you experience building the set. As a dealer I have been asked for an 86 far more than the other dates. That doesn't mean it's the toughest date, that's just my experience.

    @Halfhound said:
    Would pick the following order > 1887, 1885, 1884, 1882, 1886, 1883, 1880, 1879, 1881, 1890, 1888, & 1889.

    @amwldcoin said:
    With the Halves I'm pretty sure it's the 1886.

    @cnncoins said:
    Original problem free VF-AU+ in both quarters and halves are very tough. Brian Greer has probably handled as many as anyone in the last 30 years and I suspect he knows exactly which dates are the toughest to locate. I have handled many gems of these dates in the last 35+ years, but very few in nice higher circ grades.

  • No HeadlightsNo Headlights Posts: 2,036 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been working on 1880 quarters and halves for a few years. All coins are high VF to AU. All CAC.
    Quarters I have finished. Halves I still need the 1884 and 1887, In nice high-grade circ. these coins are indeed difficult. Also, the price guide is not a reality for nice stuff. Quite honestly, easier to find MS then high-grade circ. Good luck.

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,365 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pursuitofliberty said:

    I think the fact that higher grade examples exist to some abundance, and that problem-free, mid-grade examples seem to be rarer then hen's teeth in most cases, makes for an unusual demand scenario, almost unique to their run.

    This is unusual or isolated for US circulating coinage (actual US Mint coinage) but quite common for world coinage.

    For practically any coin type or series I have collected since 1998 it's the norm, not an outlier. The primary difference is that most of this coinage is scarce or rare in high grades, not common but also at least somewhat scarce or rare in low grades, and in some series, a disproportionate percentage is damaged or almost always has problems.

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file