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Melting made 1930-S $10 gold piece a rarity

The 1930-S Indian Head eagle is a low mintage date that is far tougher than even its mintage would suggest.

The 1930-S Indian Head eagle is a low mintage date that is far tougher than even its mintage would suggest. It?s a classic case. The 1930-S probably was melted in large numbers in the Gold Recall Order of 1933.

To really understand the 1930-S, we have to go back further. After 1916, gold coin mintages with the exception to a degree of double eagles became much less regular. There was a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that in most of the country people were content with bank notes. They probably wanted to have gold sitting in a vault somewhere backing up their notes, but pieces of paper were a lot easier to cart around than a couple ounces of gold. In addition, with the world turning away from the gold standard, the need for large numbers of gold coins was not really present. The United States had plenty of gold coins sitting in vaults, so the few mintages there were probably reflected a local need at the time.


San Francisco should have been the center of gold coin demand, but prior to the 1930-S, the last San Francisco gold eagle production had been 126,500 pieces produced back in 1920.


Fears after the stock market crash in 1929 probably had a major role in producing the 1930-S. The economy would start to slide and as that became worse some of the public became a little more convinced that even if it wasn?t convenient, a little gold stashed away in a safe place might be a good idea. While that move to gold was more pronounced in 1932 and early 1933, the fact is that it was probably being anticipated back in 1930. .

Whatever the real reason, a mintage of 96,000 1930-S gold eagles would be the result. It does not, however, appear that large numbers of the new mintage would circulate. Finding the 1930-S in circulated grades is almost impossible.

If anything, it appears that the 1930-S and even the 1920-S were still sitting in some numbers in vaults when the Gold Recall Order was issued. We come to that conclusion as surviving numbers of both dates are far lower than should be the case. There are no other good reasons for the two dates not being available. Certainly large numbers of gold coins were shipped to Europe and other locations around the globe, but those coins have now been examined and most of any particular value have been purchased and returned to the United States. The 1930-S was not in that group. It, like the 1920-S, appears to have simply vanished.

The result of the lack of supply is a $5,500 price for the 1930-S in VF-20, while an MS-60 is $14,500, with an MS-65 being listed for $67,500. In the case of a VF-20, with the mintage of the 1930-S, a $550 price might be expected, but certainly not a price of $5,500.

The grading service totals of the 1930-S tell us a number of things. At NGC they have graded 61 examples of which 14 were MS-65 or better, but only one that was an AU-58 was called circulated.

At PCGS, they have graded exactly 100 examples of the 1930-S and of that total all but seven were called Mint State, with 21 being called MS-65 or better.

What we learn from the totals is that the 1930-S is available in some, although small numbers. It has a higher population than some of the other heavily melted dates and it seems to barely ever be found in circulated grades.

Clearly, the 1930-S is an expensive coin but its rarity and history make it one well worth the price.