• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

classic head gold coinage; truly the last frontier in early usa coinage

4 posts in this topic

The most understudied US series is 1834-1839 classic head gold, it is the only pre-1840 series without a reference book (John McCloskey has been working on one for some time). Very few people collect by date, and I know of only two who collect by variety. Classic head gold is the last frontier of early US coins.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Classic Head gold coins have been a favorite of mine ever since I learned of their existence back in the mid 1960s. My initial fascination stemmed from fact that here was a “really old” gold coin that was common enough to be affordable. I also found the design to be interesting and exotic.


Then I learned that these coins were one of President Andrew Jackson’s pet projects that were a key part of his economic reform. Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who was one of Jackson’s political allies in the Senate, introduced legislation that authorized these coins. All of the previous U.S. gold coins had contained too much gold and were worth more than their face value. As a result the coins were never seen in general circulation, and many pieces were exported and melted. Jackson’s theory was that the widespread availability of “hard money” (gold) would bring economic prosperity and stability to farmers and the working classes. Unfortunately his theory proved to be untrue, but the Classic Head gold coins were a tangible result of Jackson’s policies.


So long as you can resist the urge to collect these coins in Mint State, they are still quite affordable. They are also more common that one might think. About a year ago Heritage had an accumulation of what must have been more than 300 Classic Head $5 and $2.50 gold coins. They ranged in grade from choice VF to low end AU with average falling in the EF range. I had not seen so many of these coins in one spot since a dealer had shown up at the previous FUN show with two cases full of these coins.


My own collection is almost exclusively limited to type pieces, but I do have a couple of Classic Head quarter eagles that have long been among my favorite coins. The first is an 1836 quarter eagle. This coin is very common, but it is the first higher grade Classic gold piece that owned. I bought it as a birthday present for myself in 1970. This coin was a Choice AU when I bought it back then, but by today's standards it made it into a PCGS MS-62 holder.




The second piece is my representative Charlotte mint coin, and 1838-C. I found this piece at an EAC convention back in the 1980s. This one is now in a PCGS AU-55 holder. At the time that bought it, it was thought to be among the 10 finest known. It’s probably just below that level now given that a few more nice ones have surfaced. The strike a level of design detail on this piece is remarkable, but not unusual for the issue. For whatever reason the Charlette mint did a great job on these coins.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those are beautiful coins Bill.


I have only one Classic Head, and I've always wanted to collect them. I made the mistake of referring to them as Reich's design while talking to Hoot one day, and he corrected me, in that they are Kneass's design. Actually, he almost bit my head off...umm....nevermind Hoot, I'm just kidding.


I'm not that pleased with my Classic Head, which I'll attach here, because it's just too bright and shiny for me, but I haven't found a nicer one yet, although I'll be looking. I'd even go for a lower grade, easily, if it were original, but I searched and searched for one in Milwaukee and couldn't find any. There was a coin in the Heritage auction, that from it's picture, I thought might be original, but when I looked at it, my sense was that it was AT and not NT, though I could have been wrong (really don't know much about gold at all).



edited to add: THIS photo is darker than it really is



Link to comment
Share on other sites