Christmas Coin Gift Recommendations

In my many years as a coin hobbyist, I have yet to meet a person who actively sought to buy a coin in the hope of seeing it stuck in neutral. To the contrary, the vast majority of buyers desire their coins to rise in value over time.

To some degree, just about every collectible coin possesses some potential for future appreciation, but a small handful of dates outpaces the rest of the field by far. This truth is based in the omnipresent principle of Supply vs. Demand.

Now that the Christmas season is upon us and you've decided to warm the heart of a coin collector close to you, let me offer some suggestions for a long-lasting Yuletide greeting.

Every coin in my recommendation list below has a strong track record of value performance over a period of many decades. The upward impetus is fueled by strong demand from a large base of collectors in the face of a very limited supply. That is not to say every suggested coin will increase in value yearly (sometimes they actually take a step backward), but over a long stretch of time, the likelihood of significantly higher selling prices is quite good. Coins that have gained the most in value over a long period of time in the past are the same coins with the best chance of doing so in the future.

These particular coins are a few of the dates tracked in our Rare Coin Values Index, which we use to measure the direction and health of the overall United States rare coin sales activity.

For each suggested coin, there is a link to eBay. By clicking the link, a group of coins matching the description of the suggested coin will be isolated on eBay for your review. I coded the link to include ONLY coins that have been graded and certified by the most reputable grading firms of PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and ICG. All grades of the selected coin will come up, so don't be surprised if you see some selling prices greater than expected (of course, a 1916-D Mercury Dime in MS-65 is going to cost more than an example in VG-8 grade!)

I strongly advise you, DO NOT purchase coins of this rarity that have not been certified by the aforementioned grading services. There are too many unethical sellers around who DO NOT have your best interests in mind. Rare, popular coin dates like those being recommended here are used as lures. For them, they'll belch out a robust "HO HO HO" after they rip you off. Don't let them spoil this opportunity for you. See more advice on eBay buying.

Full Disclosure: US Coin Values Advisor will receive a small commission if you click any eBay link below and buy something once you get there. We have been doing this since 2003, but have never intentionally given anyone a bum steer in order to make a fast buck. In the grand strategy, we win when you win.

Okay, here is the list of recommended stocking stuffers. Below the table you will find a brief explanation as to why coin made our Christmas list.

Price Range Type Date Grade Find a Seller
Less than $100 Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1938-D VG
$100 to $250 Washington Quarter 1932-D Fine
$250 to $500 Two Cent Piece 1864 SM Fine
$500 to $1000 Indian Head Cent 1877 Good
$1000 to $2000 Mercury Dime 1916-D VG
$2000 to $5000 Seated Liberty Dime 1871-CC Good
$5000 to $10,000 Flowing Hair Large Cent 1793 Chain AMERI. Good
$10,000 to $20,000 Draped Bust Quarter 1796 Good
$20,000 to $50,000 Coronet Head $2.50 Quarter Eagle 1848 CAL. Fine
More than $50,000 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar 1794 Good

1938-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar: Among the reasons "Walkers" are popular with collectors is their artistic beauty. When the U.S. Mint began producing silver bullion coins in 1986, the Walking Liberty theme was copied because of its stellar reputation. Other than the 1921 issues, the 1938-D has the smallest mintage, yet can still be yours for a modest price. At one time, the 1938-D price appreciation pattern was off the charts, but has since cooled off. Now is the time to get your hands on one of these beauties at a garage sale price.

1932-D Washington Quarter: The 1932-D, along with its sibling, the 1932-S, are the only legitimately scarce dates in the long running Washington Quarter series. During the height of the 50 State Quarter program, interest in Washington Quarters skyrocketed, pushing the value of the 1932-D out of sight. Interest in State Quarters predictably waned, triggering a drop in price for the 1932-D. Just as the sharp jump in pricing may have been an overreaction, the corresponding fall from grace may have been as well. Look for this honest-to-goodness modern rarity to eventually resume its natural tendency to rise in value.

1864 Small Motto Two Cent Piece: Wow! Talk about a coin steeped in historical significance. The 1864 Two Cent was released during the Civil War, and was the first United States coin to bear the motto "In God We Trust". The Small Motto variety is the 1864 issue holding the most significance for collectors due to its scarcity. With its remarkable historical underpinnings, the 1864 SM Two Cent has advanced solidly for generations with nary a downturn in value.

1877 Indian Head Cent: This coin has a freakishly small mintage, relative to all other dates of the venerable series, save the 1909-S. From the time of its release, numismatists have fought to corral an example of this elusive date. Although the 1877 has always been a collectors' favorite, prices have plunged in recent years. Have market fundamentals all of a sudden been altered radically for this marquee date? We don't think so, but at the moment, the 1877 slot can be filled in Indian Head coin albums at an unexpectedly discounted price.

1916-D Mercury Dime: This is one of the most famous classic rarities from the 20th century. As a young collector, I had the joy of searching through a few hoards of Mercury Dimes. Every time I came across a 1916, I held my breath, hoping to find a little "D" on the reverse side. Never happened. That did not stop me from eventually owning a 1916-D, though I had to pay $125 to a dealer in the 1970's to get it. Today, my 1916-D dime is worth many multiples what I paid for it. Should you choose this coin for a gift, the lucky recipient will be someday experience the same pride as I now have.

1871-CC Seated Liberty Dime: The rarity of this Carson City dime was recognized as early as 1898. Ever since then, its been fisticuffs and sharp elbows amongst the collector class, fighting over the small supply of 1871-CC Dimes. Nearly every numismatist today has a bias in favor of the "CC" mint mark to begin with, and the 1871-CC dime is one of the scarcest coins ever minted at the Carson City facility. You will never regret purchasing this memento of America's Wild West days.

1793 Flowing Hair Chain AMERI. Cent: Personally, I have a deep reverence for coins that were manufactured within the confines of the "Ye Olde Mint" in Philadelphia. Did you know horses were employed  in the production of the nation's first coins? (though they weren't actually on the payroll -- ha ha!) Now that is Horsepower -- literally! I am not alone in my admiration of the first United States Mint. That explains the extraordinary demand for early U.S. coinage, including the 1793 Chain Cent. Both the AMERI. and AMERICA varieties share in this heritage. Inexplicably, prices have softened a tad bit in recent years, creating a BUY opportunity for forward thinking collectors.

1796 Draped Bust Quarter: This coin has the added significance of being the first United States quarter. Moreover, it is the only year Draped Bust quarters with a small eagle reverse were minted, making it a single year coin type. Only 6,146 were struck, of which perhaps 650 still exist today. Looking at the performance record of this early U.S. rarity, it is nothing short of spectacular and solid. Why should we expect anything different for the future?

1848 CAL. $2.50 Coronet Quarter Eagle: When the extreme scarcity and historical importance of this gold coin are considered, no wonder it totally rocks. The gold used to make the 1848 CAL. was mined in the early days following the discovery of gold in California. The bullion was sent to the Philadelphia Mint for coinage into $2.50 quarter eagles, where the CAL. lettering was also applied to designate the gold was from California. The aggressive price increases have been absolutely relentless for decades. Buyers hoping for lower prices will have to wait on the sidelines forever.

1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar: This is one of the most important coins in American numismatics. The 1794 was the first silver dollar produced by the U.S. Mint, and exists today in microscopic quantities. Strong buying pressure has continually pushed this coin ever higher, with few slow downs. A Good-4 example selling in the $65,000 range today was selling for about $8000 in year 2000. The finest known example of a 1794 Silver Dollar, graded MS-66, sold for over $10 million in January 2013, the highest price ever paid for a United States coin.

Understandably, some of the coins above are difficult to find for sale. They're rare coins, so duh! There are other dates that could have been recommended just as easily in all of the price categories, so if your Santa is in need of alternate choices, contact me, and I will be happy to help you. Merry Christmas!

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