Vintage United States gold coins can either be wildly rare or abundantly plentiful in higher grades. Depending on how many of the coins were made, what percentage was melted and how the coins were used/stored, certain series can be either readily available or virtually non-existent in higher grades. This article provides a quick overview of how rare the smaller denominations ($1, $2.50 and $3) are in MS 65 and above.
Type 1 Gold Dollars: Being tiny and common coins, these can be found in MS 65 without much difficulty. They generally sell in the $3,000 vicinity. These occasionally can be located in MS 66 through MS 67 and some remarkable MS 68s exist too.
Type 2 Gold Dollars: This short-lived type was poorly made, thus resulting in very few Gem Uncirculated survivors. MS 65s can sell for $30,000-$40,000. Coins in the MS 66 or higher category almost never appear on the market.
Type 3 Gold Dollars: This is perhaps the easiest U.S. gold series to find in ultra-lofty grades. Beautiful MS 65 and MS 66 coins can be had for under $2,000. Superb Gem MS 67 and MS 68 coins do change hands regularly; they typically fetch around $4,000 and $10,000 respectively. Even a few spectacular MS 69s have sold at auction in recent years. Dates from 1880-1889 are most likely to be seen in the MS 65 – MS 68 range.
$2.50 Liberties: This, too, is a readily available series in MS 65 through MS 67. Most superbly preserved examples are dated 1900-1907. An MS 67 coin is still relatively affordable at $4,000-$5,000 or so, but MS 68s are virtually non-existent and command prices of $10,000 or more.
$2.50 Indians: Due to the format and complexity of the design, $2.50 Indians often have subdued luster and numerous surface marks. Therefore relatively few pieces quality for the MS 65 grade. In MS 66 they are very rare (easily costing $7500 or more) and MS 67s essentially do not exist. The most common dates in upper levels of Uncirculated are 1908, 1925-D, 1926, 1927 and 1928.
$3 Indians: While expensive, high grade $3 Gold “Princesses” do appear on the market with some regularity. This denomination did not circulate extensively and therefore quite a few nice Mint States examples have survived. A true Gem Uncirculated piece will still cost $7,500 to $10,000 but it won’t be terribly difficult to procure. The most frequently seen dates in Gem are 1874 and 1878.