This is the second in a two part article instructing collectors on the joys and reward of assembling a 10-Piece Type Set of Carson City coins.
Assembling a 10-Piece Type Set of Carson City Coins
For Personal Fulfillment and Financial Reward
By Rusty Goe
Pricing Categories by Date
A month ago, the October Monthly Summary presented an introduction to one of the most rewarding methods of collecting coins with a “CC” mintmark. Many collectors, realizing the potential gratification are responding to the challenge of assembling 10-piece type sets of coins from the Carson City Mint. If this is your desire, where should you start? Naturally, this is always the first question; and in order to provide a systematic plan for accomplishing your objective of building one of these sets that will most certainly bring years of pride and pleasure, it would first be helpful to know the various pricing options available.
Probably the easiest way to do this is to separate all of the dates and denominations issued by the Carson City Mint into three categories: Low, Medium and High budget price ranges. Depending on the grades you select, various dates may be elevated to the next higher price category due to condition rarity. That provision aside, the following breakdown will serve as a guideline to get started.
The categories are as follows:
Price Categories by Date
|1873-CC 10C No Arrows||H||H||H||H||H||H||H||H|
|1873-CC 10C Arrows||M||H||H||H||H||H||H||H|
|1874-CC 10C Arrows||M||H||H||H||H||H||H||H|
|1875-CC 10C MM Above||L||L||L||L||L||M||M||H|
|1875-CC 10C MM Below||L||L||L||L||L||M||M||H|
|1873-CC 25C No Arrows||H||H||H||H||H||H||H||H|
|1873-CC 25C Arrows||H||H||H||H||H||H||H||H|
|1873-CC 50C No Arrows||L||M||M||H||H||H||H||H|
|1873-CC 50C Arrows||L||M||M||H||H||H||H||H|
|1874-CC 50C Arrows||L||M||H||H||H||H||H||H|
Key: L = Low M = Medium H = High
Collectors will undoubtedly have their own interpretation of what the criterion is for each of the three price range levels. Low budget for one person may be entirely different from what it represents to another person; and with that in mind, it seems appropriate to establish the ground rules used in this study. For the Low budget category, a ceiling price of approximately $1500 seems fitting. Next is the Medium budget level, capping out at close to $12,000, and finally the High budget category, where the sky is the limit. You might notice slight exceptions; however, these designations are essentially ballpark estimates. Each of the separate editions published by The Coin Dealer Newsletter will be of great assistance in determining these levels.
Someone may ask what the lowest and highest priced coins are in the Carson City series. Indeed, the spread is significant, ranging from approximately $15 for a circulated Seated Liberty dime, to near $1 million for one of the rarest coins in the numismatic world; the 1873-CC Without Arrows dime (Sold on July 9, 2004 for $891,250). As declared in part one of this study, there is something for everyone in the manifold treasury of captivating coins from the Carson City Mint.
For Fun or Profit?
Not everyone who collects coins does so for sheer pleasure. At some point, either from the beginning, or well into the process, a collector may ask if there is money to be made. It certainly is no secret that rare coins are touted as a potentially lucrative investment vehicle. Reports of noteworthy numismatists (or at least their heirs) striking it rich when selling their collections spice up articles and advertisements in coin publications year after year. Hearing that a collector turned a $50,000 investment into $1 million, or $350,000 into $45 million sends waves of exuberant optimism through the hearts of expectant hobbyists hoping to duplicate the success. With this in mind, it is appropriate to interject that the overwhelming majority of fortunate souls who have reaped significant profits are those who considered themselves collectors first and foremost; and indeed, this is a wise admonition: Approach coin collecting as a hobby, a leisurely pastime that occupies your diversionary time and money. Learn as much as you can about it, enjoy it, and make purchase decisions based on completing your collection. Push the thought of investing entirely out of your mind; and in the process, you will reap the double rewards of fulfilling a leisure pursuit and a financial gain. Become a collector first; and the added bonus of successful investor will most likely be thrown in as part of the bargain.
Concerning Carson City coinage, what are the prospects of profit potential? If you complete your 10-piece “CC” type set, will you get financially fat from feasting at the smorgasbord of alluring coins with this popular mintmark? A succinct answer is, probably. Based on past performance, from the time the Carson City Mint ceased producing coins in 1893, until the early years of the 21st century, prices have consistently risen for all issues. Not all of the dates and denominations have clipped along at the same pace; some in fact, have far outpaced others. This, of course depends on rarity and demand. Coins like the 1876-CC 20-cent piece, 1873-CC Without Arrows dime and quarter and 1870-CC double eagle have been stellar price performers. Yet, from decade to decade, even the common dates have registered healthy price gains.
Your results will depend on several key factors, not least of which will be the rarity and grades of the coins in your collection. The rarest coins in the highest states of preservation will naturally possess the greatest potential for price gains. This is true in any market, not just rare coins. Buyers will pay more for “showroom fresh” limited production used cars with low mileage, rare special edition collectable magazines in mint condition, scarce high quality Coca Cola memorabilia, first edition Barbie dolls without flaws, and endless other products influenced by short supply and high demand.
Another essential element in the profitability equation is the purchase price. If the true market value (not necessarily the bid price) of a “CC” coin is $500 and you pay $1000, you will automatically be placed in an unfavorable position. According to this scenario, the buy/sell margin is an imposing hurdle to overcome. Your coin needs to appreciate 200% before you break even, let alone reap a profit. Although the most desirable coins from the Carson City Mint will not be available at discounted prices, you need to research the market to insure you are making prudent purchases. In regards to some of the dates with a “CC” mintmark, it is often difficult to determine what a fair price is, due to the infrequency of market appearances. However, with the assistance of knowledgeable numismatic advisers and a study of comparative market prices using other coins that have sold, it will not be difficult to arrive at an equitable price.
Other than rarity, grade and purchase price, what is another component to consider when evaluating the profit potential of a 10-piece type set of Carson City coins? An often-overlooked factor is holding time. How long do you intend to retain your collection? In most cases, the longer you own it, the greater the return. Although there is no formula for retention versus profitability, in general, a minimum holding time of five years should be appropriated; with ten to twenty years considered optimal. Ample evidence of this is seen when studying auction prices realized from one decade to the next. In The Mint on Carson Street, numerous examples are cited of specific “CC” coins realizing significant price gains when tracked through auctions. The numbers do not lie.
There are no guarantees, of course, that 10-piece type sets of “CC” coins will appreciate in value, or any “CC” coins for that matter, however, indicators suggest it. If the main drivers of investment potential are applied, Carson City coins should perform as well as, or better than the best rare coins in the marketplace. Consider, for example, the following indicators leading to steady growth in any investment vehicle:
Demand- It is undeniable that coins from the Carson City Mint are in demand. They are the rage of eBay shoppers, and auction companies are scurrying to secure more “CC” consignments.
Low Supply- With an estimated survival rate of no more than 300,000 “CC” silver and gold type coins and 4.5 million or fewer Morgan silver dollars, the population base is significantly affected by every slight increase in demand.
Market Share- The collector base is as healthy as any segment of the U.S. rare coin market. There is no way the Carson City market could be considered faddish or esoteric.
Growth- With interest increasing in Europe and Asia, combined with the steady advances in Internet activity, the “CC” bug is biting growing numbers of excited collectors every day all over the world. Every week in the commentary sections of the Coin Dealer Newsletter and Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter mention is made of how strong the Carson City market is. This appears to be the long-term trend.
Prices- As in any market, participants look for steady upward price movements as a sign of stability. With “CC” coins, there have not been any big peaks and valleys in recent years, just consistent climbing activity on the charts. It seems reasonable to expect this to continue into the future.
Until the 1970s, prices for Carson City coins as a whole lagged behind other areas of the U. S. rare coin market. With the advent of the GSA “CC” Morgan dollar sales from 1972 to 1980, these coins with the double letters for a mintmark began to make up for lost time. Price appreciation was gradual, and at times brisk, never experiencing the irrational exuberance of other segments of the coin market. As the 21st century dawned, it had become apparent that Carson City coins were destined to be major contenders for collector’s discretionary spending capital. Record prices had been established for key issues, such as the 1873-CC Without Arrows dime and quarter, the 1876-CC 20-cent piece and the 1870-CC double eagle. Yet at the same time, it appeared as if prices for the majority of dates in the “CC” series had only reached the tip of the iceberg in relation to coins from other series. In conclusion, it can be argued that when the true rarity of “CC” coins as a series is appreciated; and increased demand exerts pressure on the limited supply, prices will soar and collectors will look back on these early years of the 21st century as the good old days in terms of pricing.
Are you hungry for the adventure and reward associated with collecting these delightful coins from the legendary Carson City Mint, or have you already been feasting at the delectable banquet table of “CC” delights? If you are looking for a way to dig in, why not grab a plate and begin walking through the buffet line and start filling it with the ingredients needed to complete a 10-piece type set of Carson City coins. Upon completion, you will experience a sensation greater than the relaxing fulfillment you feel after dining on a succulent Thanksgiving dinner; and in the case of your coin collection, you will be able to enjoy it every day afterward rather than wait for a special holiday occasion.
Rusty Goe is the co-owner with his wife Marie of Southgate Coins and Collectibles in Reno, Nevada. Both the Professional Numismatists Guild and the Numismatic Literary Guild recently awarded Book of the Year honors to Goe’s new book on the Carson City Mint, The Mint on Carson Street. Rusty Goe can be reached at Southgate Coins, 5032 S. Virginia St. Reno, NV 89502
End of Part Two