San Francisco's Finest: Top Coins from the San Francisco Mint

Top San Francisco Mint Coins

San Francisco's Finest: Top Coins from the San Francisco Mint

November 22, 2023 389 view(s)

Are you interested in learning about the top San Francisco Mint coins? The San Francisco Mint issued some very rare coins from 1854 to 1930.

Coin collectors revere them for their quality, and are in great demand. They are some of the rarest gold coins in the history of American numismatics.

If you're interested in rare and unique coins from San Francisco mint history, we have the scoop. 

Here's a look at some exceptional 19th and 20th-century San Francisco mint coin standouts.

The Lee Family Specimen (1854-S)

his coin is by far the rarest San Francisco quarter eagle. It's among the rarest group of Liberty Head quarter eagles.

There are approximately a dozen of these known coins in various grades. They are mostly in VF or lower. The finest among them is the Pogue Bass PCGS AU 50.

It recently sold for over $380,000 after it was off the market for over 15 years.

S.S. Central America Pedigree (1856-S) 

This quarter eagle is in superb condition. In December 2000, it sold for a reasonable $46,000 at auction. In September 2015, it sold for $85,188 at the Goldberg auction.

There's a theory as to why these coins are in better condition than many others in the SSCA recoveries. These double eagles were packed together and traveled as cargo, while the passengers owned and used the smaller denomination coins.

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Eliasburg (1854-S)

The Eliasberg is a popular conversation piece for coin collectors. The Pogue family paid $187,000 for it in 1982. In March 2020, collector DL Hansen bought it for $1,920,000.

It was sold for less than it was worth at the beginning of the pandemic. This coin's current estimated value is around $4,000,000.

If you're a San Francisco gold coin enthusiast, you may be surprised to learn that one or two of these half eagle coins never turned up in the S.S. Central America recoveries.

In 1857, these issues were already rare, and many of these coins were melted down or out of circulation.

The Bass/Norweb Specimen (1864-S)

There were only 3,888 1864-S half eagles made. It's the rarest of the collectibles from San Francisco Mint history. 

There are 30 to 35 of these known coins, and they are lower-grade. The 1864 date is rare and unique for uncirculated coins.

1864-S PCGS

There is only one known 1864-S half eagle that's uncirculated. It's an amazing coin that grades MS65+.

It's part of the Stellar Collection and was purchased for $178,250 at the Bass II sale in 1999. It was sold in the Norweb sale in 1987, and it's earliest-known sale was in 1956 at the Melish auction.

This coin is beautiful with a striking color and frost. The stars are flatly stuck like all 1864-S half eagles, but this one stands out from the rest. The next best similar coin is a PCGS AU55.

The Garrett Specimen (1876-S)

This is another rare and unique coin. Just like the 1864-S half eagle, this old San Francisco mint coin is uncirculated. 

It was sold in 1979 at the Garrett auction. It remains mysterious and hasn't resurfaced since.

There's some controversy about why this coin even exists. Each year, the branch mints would send a small number of coins to Philadelphia for an assay.

Rumor has it that a member of the committee wanted to trade a five-dollar bill for a new and shiny 1976-S half-eagle. This could be the reason it exists today.

The Eliasberg/Clapp Specimen 1894-S

John Clapp, Sr., bought this coin in 1984 from the San Francisco Mint. He paid face value.

He got quite a gem, considering it's still a favorite among avid coin collectors. In 1990, this coin sold at an auction for over $260,000. It was later offered at a lower price at Heritage's 2014 Fun Auction.

John Clapp isn't as famous as some collectors of the 20th century. But to some coin enthusiasts, he was one of the wisest collectors from the early 20th century.

He collected by mintmark and date, although this wasn't popular at the time. He had the bright idea to buy coins directly from the mint at the San Francisco mint coin price.

There are still many superb gems that are pedigreed to Clapp. Louis Eliasberg purchased the Clapp Collection in 1942.

S.S. Brother Jonathan Pedigree (1865-S Inverted Date)

Although this coin may not be as famous as some mentioned above, it is a very rare piece. It's one of the finest No Motto Liberty Head Eagles from the San Francisco Mint.

This 1865-S sold in the 1999 Bowers and Maerena auction for $115,000. It brought $81,650 at an auction in 2001.

It's a coin with more numismatic scarcity than any other coin of this particular denomination.

Simpson-Hall Pedigree (1899-S)

Coin experts consider this San Francisco Liberty Head Eagle to be one of the finest of the 19th century. It can be traced back to John Clapp and his unique insight into the value of gold coins.

This coin was purchased from the San Francisco Mint in 1899 at face value and sold in 1942 to Elias Eliasberg.

The Saddle Ridge Specimen (1866-S)

In 2013, there was a lot of hype about the Saddle Ridge Hoard. Today, it's difficult to find coins from this hoard that are in their original holders.

Although the choice coins in terms of grade were from 1883 to 1893, the most special coin of the group was the PCGS MS62.

This famous coin is one of only two or three of these legitimately uncirculated coins.

The Pogue Specimen 1927-S

The last coin on the list is a St. Gauden's double eagle. It's considered a classic San Francisco Saint. 

It's a rare find and a beautiful coin that recently sold for $264,000.

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San Francisco Mint Coin Enthusiasts

Investing in gold coins isn't a thing of the past. Although you may not be able to find the rarest San Francisco mint coin, there are plenty of unique ones available for today's savvy collectors.

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