Welcome to Pinnacle Rarities, Inc.
Shopping Cart - $0.00

You have no items in your shopping cart.

Pinnacle Rarities News & Blog

Always Expect More...

  • Buffalo Nickel Basics

    Buffalo Nickels A quick primer on the Buffalo nickel series.

    As a continuation of the drive to beautify the nation’s coinage that began with Teddy Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens revamping the gold denominations, all five minor U.S. coins received design upgrades between 1909 and 1916. In 1913, Charles E. Barber’s Liberty Head nickel was replaced by the Buffalo nickel of sculptor James Earle Fraser, who formerly worked as Saint-Gaudens’ assistant. The obverse renders an authentic portrait of a Native American warrior facing right and the initial reverse (Type 1) depicts a bison on a raised mound.  As the words “FIVE CENTS” were quickly showing wear on the initial design, a modification (Type 2) removing the mound was made by Charles Barber.

    Over 1.2 billion Buffalo Nickels were minted at three Mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver.  Circulation strikes were issued from 1913 through 1938.  In most years they were struck at all three active Mints, but none at all were produced in 1922, 1932 and 1933.  Additionally, Denver didn’t mint any for the years 1921, 1923, 1930 and 1931.  The Philly mint struck no nickels in 1931 and the final year, 1938.  And San Francisco didn’t create any in 1934 or 1938.  The 1938-D/S was produced when it was decided that Buffalo nickel dies would not be sent to San Francisco during the issue’s final year.  Reverse dies earmarked for San Francisco were instead repunched with D’s and produced in Denver.  There are a total of 64 regular issues spanning 23 production years.

    Proofs were struck from 1913 until 1916 and again in 1936 and 1937. Mintages range from a low of 600 for the 1916 to a high of 5,769 for the final proof issue in 1937.  (In the late 1980s, five 1927 so-called Specimens were also discovered.)  Proofs from 1913 to 1916 display a matte finish and exhibit a slight granularity and frostiness.  For the most part, this style was not favored by collectors, and mintages declined steadily due to weak demand.  After a twenty year hiatus, Proof sales resumed with the more traditional “brilliant” or reflective style, which was much more favorably received.  There are actually two different Proof varieties in 1936: The Type 1, Satin finish, which is semi-prooflike; and the Type 2, Brilliant finish, which is more highly mirrored and reflective.  The 1937 also features the Brilliant finish.

    The Buffalo nickel has been resurrected not once, but twice – the first time as a 2001 commemorative silver dollar, and again in 2006 as a $50 gold bullion coin proving its enduring appeal. The series hailed from the time when renowned artists created some of numismatics’ all-time best designs.  We continually seek out high quality examples of this series, so if you are interested in collecting these beloved coins, check out our current selection.


  • The Brief Life of the Two Cent Piece

    2c Series A quick overview of the two cent series.

    The denomination, designed by James Longacre, was struck for a mere ten years from 1863 (patterns
in 1863, circulating coins beginning in 1864) until 1873. Prototype patterns dated 1863 and early 1864 Proofs were struck with a small letter legend. The first business strikes of 1864 were produced from dies made from the same Small Letter variety hub.  A new hub with the Large Letter variety was used to make dies for the majority of the 1864 coins and for all subsequent dates of the denomination.

    During the first couple years of the Civil War, virtually all U.S. coinage vanished from circulation. Hoarders, speculators and frightened Americans set aside every gold, silver and even base-metal coin they could obtain.  Starved for coinage of any kind, Americans embraced the Two-Cent piece when it made its debut. Acceptance and mintage levels fell off dramatically after the war, however, as other coins made their way back into circulation. Fewer than 3.2 million Two Cent pieces were struck in 1866 and by 1870 production dropped precipitously below the one million mark. Business strikes hit rock bottom in 1872, when the Mint issued only 65,000 pieces for circulation. Finally in 1873, only proofs were produced. In all, the Mint coined just over 45.6 million business strikes and just over 7,000 proofs. Proofs were struck in each of the series’ 10 years.

    Despite its failure as a medium of exchange, the Two-Cent piece made an enduring contribution to the nation’s coinage history as the coin that introduced the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Until then, U.S. coinage had carried no reference to a higher power. That change was largely attributed to the religious fervor created by the Civil War.

    Due to its short duration and absence of great rarities, this is a set that many collectors can complete by date (especially considering that only one mint—Philadelphia—produced this coin).  The Proof set is sometimes assembled with ten coins (one of each date), eleven coins (both varieties of the 1873) or twelve coins (including the extremely rare 1864 Small Motto). In addition, the set can be assembled in Brown, Red & Brown, Red or a combination of the three. We recently acquired a lovely group of six of the ten proof dates along with one business strike. All are gem quality Red-Brown examples, which represent terrific bargains compared to their full Red counterparts.

    Take a look…or two!

  • Gold, Gardner and Government - A show report for the Whitman Summer Baltimore Expo 2014

    Baltimore 2014

    The summer Baltimore Expo is generally the slowest of the three shows put on by the great folks at Whitman. This year’s show was no different. The slower paced summer event was a bit more quiet than the Spring show, as expected, but some the show did have a buzz. Unfortunately the buzz wasn’t a result of large numbers of collectors clamoring for coins. Instead, the sources were recent events leading into the show. The three things that everyone was talking about – gold, Gardner and government.

    Gold showed some strength coming into the show. The yellow metal bounced back from recent loses to regain levels lost since the first quarter of this year. Silver too headed back over $20. Positive gains in the precious metals market always provide a good back drop to trading.

    Another big event that was on the tip of everyone’s tongue was the recent Eugene Gardner sale in New York by Heritage auctions. The sale featured many amazing coins with Part One hammering just shy of $20 million. Many exciting examples came out of the sale, with dealers opining about the overall strength the sale showed.

    Another topic at the show held so close to DC, were a pair of legislative movements brewing which will directly impact the hobby. One is the Internet Fairness Act. This bill will force dealers to comply with sales tax laws from each and every state and municipality to which a dealer sells coins. This would force each dealer to independently monitor rare coin tax laws (which differ state to state) as well as county and city sales tax laws (which differ from county to county and even city to city within a county). And it will open every dealer to scrutiny from every state, municipality and even tribal governments. The bill passed the Senate last year, but has hit a snag in the House of Representatives. The main hold up is the awareness that compliance would be an extreme burden for businesses as no comprehensive data base for various laws and regulations are in place. And, currently 45 state require a “use tax” on goods purchased from out of state vendors so this bill could be considered as a bit redundant. However, “use tax” has proven difficult to accurately enforce. The other bill is what was titled “Operation Choke-Point." The idea behind this is to allow banks to terminate relationships with businesses listed on a government list as high risk. Going into the show, rare coin dealers were on that list. Ex-Senator Jimmy Hayes, who work closely with ICTA (Industry Council for Tangible Assets) and the Gold PAC was quoted in Greysheet (Vol. LII No.26) that he “does not believe that coin dealers will be a target of this overreaching initiative by the DOJ.”

    So despite slightly slower than optimal activity and attendance, there was still plenty to talk about. Additionally I obtained a copy of the new book Morgan Dollar, and you can read my review here. And of course, we did manage to pull a few nice items from the bourse as well as from our extended client base. Enjoy our new purchases here, and we look forward to our next major outing – the ANA – Chicago.

  • Book Review - Morgan Dollar, by Michael Standish

    morganbook_smallerLast month Whitman Publishing released the new book, Morgan Dollar – America’s Love Affair With a Legendary Coin by Michael “Miles” Standish. At the recent Whitman Baltimore Summer Expo, I received a copy and had a chance to read it on my long trip back west.

    Standish does an excellent job bringing the story of the Morgan dollar to life. His book is filled with great information and colorful illustrations. He is able to relate a quick historical background giving the reader a great sense of the times and circumstances that surrounded the inception and the continued production of the famed silver dollar. His nutshell explanation of the acts and economics that brought to life American numismatic's most popular series condenses the information into an entertaining and quick read.

    Standish dives into the silver dollar market giving a quick study of the early markets, while touching on the personalities and numismatists whose collecting and promotion of the series were instrumental in creating the vast silver dollar market that exists today.

    The book’s date analysis gets away from the dry statistical reporting of facts and gives instead a coin by coin story illustrated wonderfully with the Cardinal Collection examples. It reads like a diary of Morgan's great design and the factors that went into each year at Philadelphia and the branch mints. He’s able to touch on pertinent facts unique to individual dates and still keep the overall picture in sight.

    Morgan Dollar is a must read for the beginner collector. It should be added to the reading list of even the most experienced dollar aficionado. The most knowledgeable within the series will enjoy and likely gleam a bit of extra information and dive deeper into the lore surrounding the great cartwheel dollars.

    I suggest picking up a copy and submersing yourself in what is essentially a life and times account of one of American Numismatics most storied series.

  • Long Beach, June 2014


    Last week’s Long Beach convention was well attended, and we enjoyed meeting with many familiar faces along with a few new ones.  While we had our usual sales volume, buying in particular was a better than average.  Many dealers take most of the summer off between this show and the August A.N.A., so they are looking to lighten their inventories.   This worked to our advantage, as we added a great variety of new coins to our inventory, from copper to gold.  Amongst the highlights are a lovely 1797 Half Cent PCGS AU58BN, a glowing, near-red 1804 Half Cent in MS65RB, a gorgeously toned 1828 Capped Bust 50c PCGS MS65, an elusive 1855 Arrows 50c PCGS MS66 and a spectacular 1903 $10 PCGS PR65+, which happens to be the finest graded for the date.  We also had great success filling several want lists.


    Speaking of which, next time you’re logged in to your account on our website, check out the new want list feature, which makes it easier than ever to tell us what you’re looking for.  When we get an item with a want list match, our software prompts us to send you an email so you don’t miss out on that piece or pieces needed to complete your set.  Let us know how you like it, as we always appreciate your feedback and will continue to add useful features based on your input.  For those of you who have want lists already on file, we will be manually adding them over the next couple weeks.  You can always login to your account and view, edit, add or delete items as your needs and collecting interests change.


    The end of the month will find us traveling to the Baltimore show, but between now and then expect our usual almost daily addition of coins from clients and dealers who thankfully think of us first when they have high-quality material for sale.  So take a look at our great show purchases, but don’t forget to check back often.  We look forward to hearing from you and hope you have a wonderful summer!


  • The Malibu Collection of Colorful Walking Liberty Halves

    imageTo say that the collector responsible for this impressive assortment of gorgeously toned Walkers has a great eye is an extreme understatement.  In the past, he has assembled some amazingly toned sets of proof Seated Type coins along with one of the finest Standing Liberty Quarter collections of all time.  Walking Liberty halves, however, were possibly his favorite series, and his enthusiasm shows in this exceptional group we are proud to make available to our clients.  Besides seeking out gorgeous color, this collector had stringent technical standards, so the coins are high-end for their respective grades across the board.  Both proof examples and business strikes are part of this exciting assemblage.  We hope you enjoy viewing this beautiful collection.

    For more information on the Walker series, click here.

    To view all available coins in this collection, click here.

  • The Sounder Collection of Standing Liberty Quarters

    We are excited to offer for sale this array of high-grade, eye-appealing examples from one of America’s most beautiful and beloved series.  Standing Liberty Quarters were struck at the Philadelphia Mint from 1916 until 1930 with the exception of only 1922, when no quarters were struck.  Strikings at Denver and San Francisco were more sporadic.  The present collection is not complete, but rather contains an array of 20 wonderful pieces ranging from the ultra rare 1919-D in PCGS MS66FH to the more affordable 1930-S in PCGS MS67FH.


    The collector responsible for this outstanding achievement lives in our own Puget Sound backyard, which only partially explains the name of the collection. The other, less obvious reason is his passion for the game of soccer and the name of the local MLS team, the Seattle Sounders. He began collecting coins almost 40 years ago in a somewhat typical fashion—pushing coins into blue Whitman albums. After a 15- year hiatus, he returned to the hobby in 1999 and began working on several top-notch collections.

    To view the available coins in this collection click here.

    To read an in depth article on this series, click here.

  • The Highly Collectible Walking Liberty Half Dollar

    Originally published in the June 10th, 2011 edition of the CDN Monthly Supplement

    By Kathleen Duncan

    The United States didn’t always place a priority on its numismatic artistry.  Early mint officials primarily focused on the mechanics of production and uniformity in design.  Charles Barber’s designs, for example, were practical and easy to manufacture.  According to Teddy Roosevelt, however, they were aesthetically unfit for our great nation.  The coinage redesigns that began in his presidency vastly outshined the beauty of their predecessors.  From 1907 to 1921, the appearance of every United States coin changed.  Each was given a unique design with the exception of the Quarter and Half Eagles, which shared Bela L. Pratt’s innovative incuse design.  This individuality was an appreciated departure from previous eras where all our silver coinage shared one design and our gold denominations another.


    Design talent was recruited from outside the mint with competitions in 1907 for the gold and 1916 for the silver, with the Lincoln cent (1909) and Buffalo nickel (1913) in between.  One of America’s best young sculptors, A. A. Weinman, who studied under Augustus-Saint Gaudens, won honors for both his dime and half dollar models.  His Walker design portrays Liberty striding left toward the rising sun with her right arm outstretched and her left cradling an olive branch.  She is draped in an American flag and wears a liberty cap atop her head.  A majestic eagle perched on a mountain crag appears on the coin’s reverse.  The design is so well loved, that for the last twenty-five years the mint has been using Weinman’s obverse to produce our Silver Eagle bullion coins.


    The Walking Liberty Half was produced over a 30 year time span. No serious changes were made to any of the design elements.  Mintmark position changes were made from obverse to reverse in the middle of production in 1917, providing two varieties from the branch mints.  Other than minor mintmark size changes (1928-S, 1934-D, 1941-2-S), many dates saw mintmark repunching[1], including the Eliasberg 1916-D which now resides in a PCGS MS67 holder.  Additionally, several dates from the 30’s and 40’s can be found with doubling on either obverse, reverse or mintmark.


    The design, though unquestionably beautiful, caused definite striking problems for the mints.  Problem areas are Liberty's left (right facing) hand and leg, her head and skirt lines and the eagle's breast and leg feathers. Sharply struck coins command and deserve substantial premiums. In an attempt to improve the striking characteristics of the design, some minor modifications were made by Chief Engraver George T. Morgan in 1918 and again by Assistant Engraver John R. Sinnock in 1937 and 1938. Unfortunately, none of the revisions helped.


    While mintage numbers were high through 1918 due to economic expansion during the First World War, production declined sharply in 1919, and was erratic for the next fifteen years.  No half dollars were produced at all in the years 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1931 and 1932.  Additionally, only San Francisco produced any in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1933.  These were coins with substantial buying power, enough to buy a loaf of bread, a quart of milk and a dozen eggs at the time.  So it didn't take huge quantities to fill Americans' needs, especially after the onset of the Great Depression.  The sporadic production and highly circulated nature of the coins lead to the creation of some serious numismatic rarities amongst the early dates.


    Patient collectors with ample funds can pursue the entire 65 coin set. Purchasing the dates from 1916 to 1929 takes considerable financial resources in high-grades, as these issues saw extensive commercial use and are much rarer than the later dates in the series.  Although we recommend both PCGS and NGC coins, it should be noted that NGC coins often trade at much lower tariffs than their PCGS counterparts.  This can be to the buyer’s advantage if purchasing at market levels, as often great coins can be acquired at notable discounts.  Because of the substantial difference in price between these two services, and potential confusion, prices within this article refer to PCGS coins exclusively.


    The most popular and affordable collecting strategy is the Short Set, comprising the twenty issues between 1941 and 1947.  Once finished with their Short Sets, collectors often expand to the Late Dates consisting of the final forty issues (1933 to the end of the series).  Another option is a Date Set, providing one example from each year, regardless of mint. For the most numismatically ambitious, varieties can be collected on 12 different issues. And last, but not least, the gorgeous run of proof strikings from 1936 to 1942 is a short yet sweet way to pursue this design.


    Early Years (1916-1929)

    There are over a dozen dates that enter the five figure category in the MS64 or MS65 level; the 1919-D is a $15,000 coin even in MS63, and the 1921-S is expensive in all uncirculated grades.  One strategy employed by many is buying before the major price jump.  It’s usually a good idea to begin buying the most difficult issues, as over time the Key dates tend to experience the greatest price appreciation.


    If attempting to buy the highest grades obtainable, finding many of the early issues above the MS65 level will prove difficult.  MS67s are practically nonexistent, with the 1919 showing a population of 5, the 1916 a mere 4, the 1916-D only 3, the 1917 but 2, and six other dates sporting 1 lone MS67 apiece (1916-S, 1917-S Obverse, 1918-S, 1923-S, 1929-D and 1929-S).



    1916-S:  Although MS65s trade with some frequency, this is a coin that is much more difficult to locate in MS66 than the population numbers suggest.  MS66s are currently trading at the $20,000 level, considerably above the published price guides.  None have crossed the auction block for half a dozen years.  The solitary MS67 was graded long ago during the “rattler” era.


    1919-D:  The undisputed key to the series in higher uncirculated grades and scarce in all grades.  If you don’t want to pony up six figures for a gem example, expect to pay a considerable premium for a well-struck MS64 as this issue is notoriously poorly struck.


    1919-S:  This has the second lowest mint state survival rate of the series due to heavy circulation along with a reduced mintage, causing even MS63s to approach the five figure range.  For those with ample funds, MS65s and MS66s are reasonably available.


    1921-S:  The key to the entire series and second only to the ’19-D in MS65 and higher grades.  Even in XF condition, this coin commands $5,000 as it is scarce in all grades.  One can conservatively estimate that fewer than 200 true mint state examples exist.   MS65s are exceptionally rare and there is but a single MS66 graded by PCGS.  Strike is a problem, and well-defined examples are valued at noticeable premiums.


    Middle Years (1933-1940)

    With the exception of the 1935-D, all of the dates in this subset exist in MS67, although five will be challenging to locate:  the 1934-D has but 2 MS67s, the 1934-S only 5, the 1935-S just 2, the underrated 1936-S a mere 6, and the 1940-S but 3.  If seeking out the very best, the 1939 and 1940 also have decent populations in MS68.  Four other dates have 1 or 2 MS68s as well:  1935, 1936, 1937, and 1939-S, but most of these have been put away by a couple advanced collectors and are unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon.



    1935:  Although MS66s are relatively common, this date is surprisingly difficult to locate in MS67.  MS67s only appear in auction once every two to three years.  Expect to pay north of $5,000 to obtain one, 25% above price guide estimates.


    1935-D:  This key to the Late Date set is the worst struck coin of the middle dates, with examples displaying a well-rounded thumb and significant detail to Liberty’s hair and cap being nearly impossible to find.  Look for partial separation of the branches that Liberty holds and a bit of definition to Liberty’s head.  Flatness in the central obverse design is the norm, even on MS66s, and is probably why no MS67s exist.


    1940-S:  With this date begins a run of San Francisco mint coins with abysmal strikes and as I’ve placed each of the 3 MS67s at one point, I can state that 2 of the 3 had very little separation between the thumb and index finger.  One may have to settle for ample detail to Liberty’s head and a flattish hand on this one.


    Short Set Dates (1941-47)

    The 20 coin Short Set ranks with Carson City Morgan dollars as the most collected group of all US coins, and we don’t expect its desirability to diminish any time soon.  Recent increases in population figures of MS67 grades have created especially affordable prices (around $1,000 or less) on high-quality examples on the more plentiful issues.


    1941-S:  Commonly referred to as the classic rarity of the Short Set, population reports indicate the ’42-S and ’44-S are nearly as scarce in MS65 and slightly rarer in MS66 and MS67.  This is a date infamous for its poor striking quality.  Expect some weakness to Liberty’s hairline, skirt lines and left (right facing) hand.  A moderately good strike is about all you can expect here.

    1942-S:  This date has emerged as the condition rarity of the Short Set dates, with the lowest population in MS66 and a lone MS67 graded by PCGS.  Like all 1940’s S-Mint Walkers, this coin suffers from a soft strike.  Criteria for purchasing should include noticeable separation between Liberty’s thumb and index finger on her left hand along with good definition on her head, and on the eagle’s breast feathers.  Again, a reasonably good strike is as good as it gets.

    1944-S:  Although some numismatists may quibble, the 1944-S is likely the toughest short set coin to find with a full strike, typically more problematic on the obverse than reverse.  Separation of the thumb and index finger on Liberty’s left hand is a rarity.  Strong definition on her head and some distinction between her hand, thigh and the stem of the olive branch is obtainable; full striking detail is not.

    From its storied inception during the renaissance of America’s coinage, to its use on today’s silver eagles, the Walking Liberty has been a popular favorite.  The series has it all, from a beautiful design, to multiple subsets providing a wide variety of challenges.  It has the ability to keep even the most tireless collector occupied for a great many years.  Whether pursuing circulated examples or museum quality gems, you are certain to be charmed by this classic design which collectors and numismatists have cherished for nearly a century.



    Click Here To View Walker Inventory Selections


    [1] Until 1990, the U.S. Mint used to manually punch the mintmark into each individual coin die. Due to human error, occasionally a die would get two or more punches of the same mintmark. Although the mint usually caught these defective dies before any coins were produced from them, on very rare occasions a die would strike coins with multiple impressions of the same mintmark letter.

  • Central States--The Cities They Ain’t A-Changin’

    The C.S.N.S. 2014 Convention marked the 75th anniversary of the show.  Unfortunately, it has not continued to improve with age.  Up until the last few years, it held the honor of our third best show of the year, following behind only the summer ANA and FUN.  The show used to travel to a number of cities in the Midwest. But recent shows have been scheduled in “Chicago” or more accurately Schaumburg.


    While the Schaumburg facilities are fabulous and the CSNS Staff works hard and does an excellent job overall, the increasing number of shows hosted in either Rosemont or Schaumburg (both advertised as Chicago) has taken its toll on the collector public.  Floor traffic was slow the entire week.  Dealer business was fairly good, albeit not robust.  When the public was admitted on Thursday there was a microscopic buzz in the room, but nothing like we’ve been conditioned to expect.  I guess our expectations have finally been taken down a notch or two.  We were disappointed to learn that the C.S.N.S. is under contract to remain in Schaumburg for the next three years.  We certainly hope they to go back to their former policy of moving the show to different locales each year.  Dealers and collectors alike will thank them.


    The overall numismatic market remains healthy, and our business back at the office has been brisk.  While we didn’t find a huge quantity of special coins to purchase at last week’s event, we always manage to scout out more than our fair share.  In addition to our show purchases, we have recently acquired some fabulous coins from our collector base, including a number of fantastic Proof Walking Liberty half dollars in high-grade.  Two new, very exciting collections will also be announced next week, so stay tuned.  As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

  • The March of Events in Baltimore

    Whitman's thrice annual Baltimore convention is always one of the best-attended numismatic venues, and we enjoyed seeing many friendly and familiar faces.  Pre-show business on Wednesday was more robust than usual.  Activity remained brisk on Thursday and Friday, and we ended the show satisfied with the turnover of older inventory items that made way for a nice array of new purchases.

    On Thursday afternoon, the Smithsonian Institution held a presentation detailing the creation of a major new display for the museum's National Numismatic Collection set to launch in 2015.  The exhibit will feature a metallic exterior and bank vault-door at the entrance to emphasize the valuable nature of the contents. Two-sided viewing of notes and coins will line the walls inside. Various drawers featuring items rotated in and out on a regular basis will also keep museum guests entertained.

    Stack's Bowers held the event's official auction.  Headlining was a Nobel Peace Prize Medal, only the second one ever offered at auction, and the first in almost 30 years. The medal was awarded to Carlos Saavedra Lamas, foreign minister of Argentina, for his part in ending the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia and for his work on a South American antiwar pact that was signed in 1933.  The historic piece was trading in South America for scrap before being discovered. A private collector from Asia was the winning bidder at an astonishing $1,116,000, blowing away presale estimates.  Since 1901, Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded 94 times.  The last auction sale was a 1903 Nobel Peace Prize medal sold by Sotheby's for just under $17,000 in 1985.  Guessing a few more of these famous medals may just hit the auction block soon.

    As always, we scoured thousands of coins on the bourse floor to bring home a few dozen rarities that we thought were the cream of the crop.  Enjoy the selection of new purchases and we look forward to hearing from you.

Items 1 to 10 of 43 total

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5