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Liberty Seated Dollars The Rare vs. the R*A*R*E

4th National Silver Dollar Convention

Houston, Texas

November 10 – 13, 1983

 

Liberty Seated Dollars

The Rare vs. the R*A*R*E

Part One

By Bruce Amspacher

 

A Seated Dollar collector named Magoo,

Once said “Before I am through.

My Seated Dollar Set,

Will be the greatest one yet,

Though too few will be true Gem BU.”

            -Anonymous (for obvious reasons)

 

On a recent morning at 4 a.m., I was watching “Radar Men from the Moon” (Chapter 9) featuring Commando Cody, thumbing through a 1979 Grey Sheet (dreams die hard), and considering writing an essay on “The Fortuitous Use of Time.”  Instead, I decided it was time to finish the Liberty Seated Dollar Analysis I had promised the CDN editor months earlier.

Actually, writing an in-depth analysis of this series is quite easy.  Just write “scarce” on a few slips of paper, “rare” on a few more, “extremely rare” on ten more, and “impossible” on the remainder.  Shake well in a hat, draw one out.  Match the slip with any random date, throw in a few comments on die striations and improper striking pressure, and presto – instant expert!  Accept no phone calls except from the Pulitzer Prize Committee.

There is a commercial sponsored by DeBeers that says “all diamonds are rare.”  I’m not talking about that kind of “rare” with Gem BU Seated Dollars.  I’m talking about R*A*R*E!  If someone tells you he has seen a R*A*R*E, then he was in the right place at the right time.  If he has seen two examples of this R*A*R*E coin, he has been extremely lucky.  If he says he’s seen three or more, he has:  1) a bad memory, 2) a time machine, or 3) been lying to you about other things as well.

It is because I am so serious about numismatic scholarship that this article has had, to this point, a seeming flippancy.  There seems to be no way to adequately stress the true rarity of this great series.  By any definition, Gem BU Liberty Seated Dollars are rare.  Many dates are unknown as MS-65.  One date isn’t known in any condition.  It’s difficult to get rarer than that.

Even the term “rare by any definition” doesn’t tell the complete story.  Seated Dollar fanatics may exclude such dates as 1864 from the list of true rarities because about six MS-65/better pieces have surfaced in the past ten years.  Only six pieces in ten years and it’s not a true rarity?  Well, they have a point, because in the same ten year period there has been one or less appearance of such dates as 1845, 1846-O, 1850, 1850-O, 1855, 1859-S, 1871-CC, 1872-S, 1873-CC and others.

Seated Dollars in MS-65 are redefined, then, as rare by any definition except within the context of their own series, where rarity pales against R*A*R*I*T*Y.

Several years ago, Q. David Bowers wrote an article on the Proof-only Half Cent issues.  He made the point that the series suffered from being “too rare;” that most dealers and collectors had so little exposure to this series (and therefore so little knowledge) that the prices the coins realized when available were not commensurate with the rarity.

The “too rare” syndrome plagues the Seated Dollar series, too, in a slightly different way, and too little exposure has bred too little knowledge.  It is not the fault of numismatic research.  How is one to write of the characteristics of an MS-65 1859-S Dollar when he has never seen one and knows of no one who has?

Regardless, in order to discuss each date, the standards of MS-65 should be set, with the understanding that flexibility is the rule.  Why flexibility?  Because it would be incorrect to say an MS-65 Seated Dollar must have full claws, or 100% full head, or full stars, or “x” number of bagmarks, or a certain degree of luster – or whatever.

Today, the grade of MS-65 is based more on overall “eye appeal” than any particular set of rigid objective standards.

 

Strike – The strike must be sharp, with all basic detail clearly defined and all minute detail with enough definition to not spoil the eye appeal of the coin.

Surfaces – The fewer number of marks on fields and devices, the better.  No highly distracting marks.

Luster – The flashier, the better, of course, but subdued luster is a frequent occurrence on Seated Dollars (even on original pieces).  So, the “rule” is:  subdued luster OK; outright dull or washed out luster is not OK.

Toning – Attractive, original toning is OK; even desirable in some cases.  Artificially toned coins, however, have usually been toned for a reason, such as covering up hairlines or rubbing.  Avoid artificial (man-made) toning.

Eye Appeal – Totally subjective, of course, but you must “like” the coin.

 

These are slim guidelines, perhaps, for such a complex series, but there are no definite rules.  For instance:  can a coin that has been “dipped” still be MS-65?  If you answer, “yes,” then the argument becomes:  “How can a dipped coin have original surfaces?”  If you answer “no,” the other side of the story is:  “A dipped coin is in no way a ‘cleaned’ coin.  Properly done on the proper coin, dipping can enhance the appearance without disturbing the ‘originality’ of the appearance.”

It becomes a matter of personal preference and personal opinion.  There are some coin dips and cleaners on the market today that promise near-miracle results if the product is used.  Once cleaning liquid in particular made such remarkable claims that I finally became skeptical.  I sent a bottle to a local laboratory for scientific analysis.  Five days later I received the following letter:

Dear Sir:

We received your liquid solution for analysis three days ago this A.M.  We have completed our tests and I’m afraid we have bad news.  Your horse has diabetes.

 

******************************************************************

 

In researching this article, I consulted with several other dealers for their thoughts on this series.  I have used their expertise in previous articles, also, because I trust both their memory and their eye.

Robert Emmer expressed this obvious but important point:  “A complete Gem Set just can’t be put together, not matter how much time or money you have.  It would be like assembling a Gem set of Stars Obverse Dimes.”

The complete set has been attempted.  The most successful try known to me was by California dealer Ron Gillio, who, in 1972-73 put together a partial set for a client that contained many exceptional coins.  The “Set” was sold at the 1973 Boston ANA, traded several times, and ended up with Kansas City dealer Joe Flynn.  Flynn later sold it to Rick Howard, who eventually broke it up.

It was a memorable set; so much so that when I asked the other dealers about what Liberty Seated Dollars they remembered seeing over the years, almost every conversation started with:  “Well, first of all, there was that set that was sold at the ’73 Boston ANA…”

Memorable as it was, it was not complete and not all pieces in the collection were MS-65.  “Be sure to mention,” cautioned Bob Riethe, “that some of the coins in that set are probably remembered as being better than they actually were.  By today’s standards, there might be only a few coins we’d call MS-65.”

Another notable source of top quality Seated Dollars was the Fairfield Collection auctioned by Bowers and Ruddy in 1977.  A few other sales have produced a few other Gems, also.  And therein lies the story.

With rare exceptions, the available of MS-65/better Seated Dollar has been a matter of one here, one there – over a period of many years.

 

******************************************************************

 

Before beginning the date analysis of this series, I would like to explain the rarity and valuation scales I have used.  If some of the values I have placed on the coins seem high for the current market, I can say only come up with the coins and see what happens.  If a “value” is placed on a coin that is unknown in the grade in which it is being valued, then, of course, that value it total speculation.  Speculation is hazard, but without that “guess” there is nothing to base the value on.

The rarity ratings do not include any of the coins in the Eliasberg Collection, because I have not seen this collection.  This collection is rumored to be coming on the market very soon through public auction; it will undoubtedly change the rarity ratings (condition-wise) of many U.S. coins in the different major series.

 

Rarity in MS-65/better

R-10     =     unknown

R-9       =     one known

R-8       =     two or three known

R-7       =     four to six known

R-6       =     seven to twelve known

R-5       =     thirteen to 25 known

R-4       =     over 26 known

 

The Valuation Rating (VR) is based on a multiple of bid for that type.  “Bid” is based on the July 9, 1982 bid prices in MS-65 of $3,200 for the “No Motto” variety (1840-1865) and $3,500 for the “With Motto” variety (1866-1873).  As an example, the 1859-P has a VR of 2, or an approximate value of $6,400 in MS-65.  (2 x $3,200 = $6,400).

This system is used because, while the bid price will change, the relative value of the scarcer dates will remain basically unchanged.  “Copper wizard” Jack Beymer used a similar system in his recent CDN article on Large Cents.

 

******************************************************************

 

1840-P

R-8

VR: 2.2

An approximate value of $7,000 for a coin of which there are only three pieces known in MS-65 may seem cheap, but this is opportunity time for collectors and investors.  “Common Date” Gem BU Seated Quarters brought higher prices than this in 1980.

First year of type, but unlike many FYOT coins, practically none were saved.

 

1841-P

R-8

VR:  2.2

Nice coin in Fairfield; some dealers graded it MS-60+, others MS-65.  Most Mint State specimens I have seen (usually MS-63 or so) have a broad struck appearance (weak denticles, slightly flat detail, etc).

 

1842-P

R-8

VR:  2.2

The same rarity and value ratings keep popping up, but this will change.  John Dannreuther notes that this date is “usually MS-63 when seen, with semi-PL striated surfaces, but flashy.”  The pieces I have seen match this description.

 

1843-P

R-9

VR:  3

I can find no record of a Gem anywhere, but with a mintage of over 165,000 one has to exist somewhere…doesn’t it?

Mint State specimens are known, but none that I know of is true MS-65.

 

1844-P

R-8

VR:  3

Maybe an R-9 coin, this coin is scarce in all grades.  Highly popular because of low mintage.  Robert Emmer reports handling a Gem.  When located in Mint State, usually semi-PL.

 

1845-P

R-9

VR:  3

The Gillio/Flynn/Howard coin is remembered as a “virtual Gem” by others.  I’ve never seen a coin that I thought was close.

 

Note:  Before you get the idea that either I am over-reacting to the rarity of these coins or that a little “hype” is going on here, I would like to share a few comments from the other dealers.

Mike Hinkle made a list of all the MS-67 Seated Dollars he had seen in the past few years – a total of three.

Greg Holloway noted:  “At the moment, I do not own one Gem Seated Dollar.  None have been offered to me for sale in over a year.  The Seated Dollar specialist is fast becoming an extinct species.”

Others had similar comments, and these are the dealers who make a concerted effort to locate Gem pieces, and have for years.

No one has “seen them all,” of course.  But the evidence is building that a lot of people haven’t seen any.

 

1846

R-8

VR: 2.2

The typical 1940’s “P” Mint.  A nice one turns up every 5-10 years or so.  One superb coin known.

 

1846-O

R-10

VR:  5

Over the years, a number of deeply toned, clean surfaced “Uncs” have appeared.  This is the kind of coin that cynics (if you can imagine any coin dealer ever being cynical) call “Gem BU-55” or “Slider Gem.”

R*A*R*E

 

1847-P

R-8

VR:  2.2

Starting with this date, the “typical” Philadelphia Mint Seated Dollar loses the semi-PL look and becomes frosty and slightly better struck.  They’re still just as rare, however.

 

1848-P

R-8

VR:  3.5

Guess what?  This date is rare, too.  Dealers recall “one or two” pieces appearing over the years that “might still be called MS-65 today.”  The most notable is the Fairfield coin, which realized a “high” $4,750 five years ago.

 

1849-P

R-7

VR:  2.5

Once again the best remembered coin is ex-Fairfield at $5,250.  This coin came from a Texas estate to Mike Brownlee, Ken Goldman, then I owned it for a week with Tom Noe, then to Paul Nugget and into the Fairfield collection.  I have seen a couple of others, too, one as early as 1971 at $200 (!).

 

1850-P

R-10

VR:  5

Greg Holloway recalls owning a true Mint State example of this date.  Another (I think) was in a “year set” assembled by Ed Milas years ago.  A true Gem?  None known to me.

 

1850-O

R-10

VR:  7.5

This popular date (in all grades) is right up there with the best of them in rarity in true MS-65.  The Redbook plate coin looks pretty impressive, though, doesn’t it?  The auction ’79 coin at $5,800 was reportedly a true Unc.

 

1851-P

R-10

VR:  7.5

The original (high date) was reportedly struck in Business Strike and Proof.  The restrike (date centered) was reportedly struck in Proof only.

I asked Walter Burks about this date.  He said, “It has been five or six years since I’ve handled this date, but I remember both 1851 and 1852 specimens that were unquestioned Business Strikes.  The Gems I recall were Proofs.”

The significance of that quote will be apparent when the 1852’s are discussed.

 

1852-P

R-10

VR:  6

This coin is known in both “original” and “restrike.”  Supposedly, the original was a Business Strike and the restrike was a Proof.  Also, supposedly, the way to tell the difference between an original and a restrike is that the original shows heavy clash marks on the reverse shield.  I have seen others, too, always offered as “originals.”

Therefore, either originals were struck in Proof or the “clashed die” theory is incorrect.

Business Strike1852 Dollars definitely were struck, of course, as Walter Burks noted.  No Gem Business Strikes are traceable.

 

1853-P

R-7

VR:  2.5

One super coin appeared in 1979, realizing $17,000 at auction.  A few other notable coins have appears, too, such as three pieces in Fairfield that were BU but less than Gem.

 

1854-P

R-7

VR:  3

Particularly memorable examples include a Gem I sold at the 1972 ANA to Julian Leidman for $800 (!) and the NIOF coin that Marty Haber owned several years ago.  Both were gorgeous.

 

1855-P

R-9 (or better)

VR:  4

Only one true Unc. noted, that owned by Greg Holloway years ago.  Tough in all grades.

 

1856-P

R-7

VR:  2.2

Most Mint State pieces are flatter than usual, but above average in surfaces and luster.

 

1857-P

R-8

VR:   3

There are a number of super slider and MS-60 examples known, usually with a flat head.  I sold an absolute Gem in 1981 to another dealer for a five-figure price.

 

 

1858-P  (Proof only issue)    
This is an analysis of MS-65 Business Strikes, but since no Business Strikes of this date were struck, it’s necessary to talk about the Proofs.

The mintage is reportedly 80 pieces, although either this figure is incorrect or restrikes were made.

A number of 1858’s have a die defect on the reverse just to the left of the eagle’s beak.  It is frequently argued that this is diagnostic of the restrike and that the originals don’t have them.

This is probably true, since die defects are more likely to occur as the die gets more mileage on it.

A Gem in the NERCA “Metro” Sale in 1980 realized $27,000.

 

1859-P

R-6

VR:  2

Because of the mintage (over 250,000), this date is underrated.  Although this date isn’t in the rarity class with most other dates, very few true Gems have surfaced over the years.

Watch out for slightly impaired Proofs being offered as “Gem BU, Prooflike.”

 

1859-O

Low R-5

VR:  1.1

Some bags of this date, along with the 1860-O, turned up in the 1960’s.  A dealer found several hundred more pieces in a bag of common date Morgan Dollars.  With maybe several thousand Mint State specimens known, why isn’t this date rated lower on the rarity scale?

Because almost all pieces are heavily bagmarked after rattling around in Treasury vaults for over a century.

 

1859-S

R-10

VR:  8

Several years ago a dealer told me he had once seen an MS-70 1859-S Dollar.

He also told me he could levitate, saw a vision of Joan of Arc whenever there was a full moon, and once found a taxi in Long Beach.

 

******************************************************************

 

PART TWO

You might have called him an eccentric dresser.  He wore a porkpie hat adorned with a “WIN” button, a pie fort pince-nez sweatshirt and tie, cut-off designer jeans, a knee brace and thongs.  He spoke:

“I was wondering if you could tell me if this ‘cartwheel’ falls within the viable parameters of the grade of MS-65?”

He had emphasized “cartwheel” in such a way that I was sure to notice how “up” he was on the latest terminology.  I was handed a Seated Dollar with so many bagmarks on it that I had trouble discerning the obverse from the reverse – let alone any “viable parameters.”

“Well, sir,” I replied, hoping I had guessed the gender correctly, “I believe this coin is too marked up for MS-65.”  Courtesy above all, that’s me.  I started to mention that the coin might have special historical significance – perhaps it stopped a few bullets at Chancellorsville?

“I’m quite certain that if you owned the coin,” came the haughty, suddenly somewhat British-accented reply, “it would be graded at least MS-65, probably higher.”

I paused, waiting for a snappy retort to come to me.  After painful moments of silence, I handed the coin back to him with no comment.

While the scenario above may be extreme, there are similar incidents of disagreement on all aspects of numismatics.  Therefore, there are good reasons to set down standards to settle these disputes.

However, there is more to numismatic writing/scholarship/grading than just “getting it down.”  There is a need – a responsibility – to get it down right.

The problems of getting it down right are many.  Old auction catalogs are nearly worthless.  Almost any coin that is a Gem BU by today’s standards was described back then as “Proof” or (even more ambiguously) as “Semi-Proof.”  B. Max Mehl’s famous “Dunham Collection” has more grading variables than the most imaginative dealer could possibly concoct today.

Today’s auction records provide problems, too.  Sometimes a coin will appear in two different sales, once graded MS-63, and then graded MS-65.  It is frequently necessary to consult the realized price to ascertain the “grade.”  For this reason, some of the coins that have auction records in “MS-65” were deleted from the rarity ratings – not because the grading was “wrong,” but because I wasn’t certain it was right.  To say that the coin in such and such an auction was graded MS-65 but was “really” only MS-63 (or worse) is to take a stance of exaggerated self-importance and arrogance.  I might disagree with the grade, but to proclaim unequivocally that I am right and the cataloguer was wrong is usually unfair.  Not always, but usually.  The price realized will frequently reflect the true value; therefore, the true grade.

Even if someone has made a life-long study of a series he can still be uncertain.  In fact, he may have made a study of only one coin of a series and still be uncertain.

For instance, after Part One of this article appeared in the July CDN Monthly Summary, I received a letter from Bruce Lorich. Bruce (noble name, eh?) has written nearly as many words on the 1850-O Dollar as Dumas Malone has on Thomas Jefferson.  His letter, in part, stated:

 

“I felt you might like to know that I sent the red book plate photo of the 1850-O dollar to them, since you mention it looks pretty impressive.  The photograph belied the coin a bit.  It is the Wolfson coin which I catalogued for B&R’s sale of May 1976, lot 643.  When sold, this coin was a pleasant 63, with a tiny indentation (like a punch tap, very faint) in the right field of Liberty’s knee.  It was mostly brilliant.  It fetched a then-strong $3950.  Later it appeared in their November 1979 sale as lot 2564, and the new cataloguer knew nothing about the piece.  The owner had dipped and wiped it, making it perhaps 60+ but still fairly pleasant.  It brought only $3200 at that time.  In 1974 [one coin company] advertised a Gem but I didn’t see it.  About 1977, a collector walked into B&R with a really frosty 63-65 coin, which he wouldn’t sell.  I think perhaps it was the Atwater coin which I mentioned in my 1976 article on the 1850-O.  There is consequently a chance that one 65 coin exists, unless another emerges that has not traded publicly in decades and decades.”

 

Private sales records leave a researcher teetering in ambivalence, too.  I mentioned in Part One that I consulted with a dealer whose memory and eye I trusted.  Even then, several coins were recalled as “a true 65” by some and “a 60+ coin at best” by others.

Old auction records, modern auctions records, private sale records, and the personal research of individuals who are serious and responsible – all these factors were taken into account in preparing this article.  The results were enlightening, but hardly complete; far from the “last word” on Gem quality Seated Dollars.

Rather than seeing this as the challenge of numismatics, some publications see it as a major flaw.  It has been written off as “the puffery of seasoned salesman” by one paper, as “beyond comprehension” by another.  The “flaw,” I think, likes with the thinking of the editorial writers.  If dealers were really interested in “promoting” a certain area of numismatics, why not promote off-quality coins?  The off-quality coins are easily located, frequently available at large discounts from “Trends” valuations or even CDN bid, and therefore sellable at “cheap” prices.

Responsible dealers recommend Gem quality coins because they are rare and not easily located.  Seated Dollars are only one of many series of U.S. coins that are excessively rare in “condition.”  There are no “perfect” ways to define the boundaries of that ‘condition.’  Numismatic research proves there are not enough definitive answers to satisfy some collectors, dealers, or men in porkpie hats.  But I like it that way, and I think most of my contemporaries do too.  It keeps things interesting.

Now to Part two of the date by date analysis.  For explanations of the rarity and value ratings, see the July ’82 CDN Summary.

 

******************************************************************

 

1860-P

R-6

VR: 1.8

About ten years ago, a number of “Superb Gem Prooflikes” of this date appeared.  The “Prooflikes,” as it turned out, were Proofs.  There were two reasons for this confusion.  One, it was about this time that Business Strike coins began to realize more money than their Proof counterparts and dealers became more Business Strike “conscious.”  Two, most Proof 1860 Dollars have a BU “look” to them, with rounded rims and more mint “frost” than normal for a Proof Dollar.

The Proof/Business Strike cross appearance is also seen on many Three Cent Nickels, the Dimes of 1864 and 1880, some Quarters and Half Dollars of 1879-1889, and even on “Proof-only” issues such as 1878 Nickels.

 

1860-O

R-4

VR:  1

This coin is so common in mint state that to give it anything more than an R-4 rating is to court trouble, yet to call it “common” in MS-65/better would be inaccurate.

The average BU 1860-O Dollar earned the nickname of “Quaker Oats Dollar” because it looks like it was shot from guns (I told you coin dealers are clever).  Yet, as Tom Noe said about this date, “While it is unquestionably the commonest BU Seated Dollar, it is also much rarer in MS-65 than most people think.”

 

1861-P

R-7

VR:  2

The finest known example (noted by several dealers) was ex-Stack’s, NERCG, NIOF; sold by Marty Haber in 1978 for $6,000.

Note #1:  The heavily striated dies (or planchets, depending on dates and circumstances) that were seen in the early 1840’s return, beginning with this date.  These striations are found on almost every date at times, but especially the “P” mints of 1861-65 and 1867-69.

Note#2:  The price records on these dates of the 1860’s are much higher (sometimes ten times higher) than for most dates of 1840-59.  This is not because they are rarer, but because of the time they were sold (late 1979-early 1980).

 

1862-P

R-8

VR:  2.5

A popular date because of the low mintage, this coin is tough in all grades.  It is far easier to locate a Proof than a Good, or a Fine, or an XF, or (especially) a Gem BU.

 

1863-P

R-7

VR:  2

See 1865-P.

 

1864-P

R-6

VR:  2

Everyone surveyed mentioned the absolute Gem in Marc Emory’s personal collection.  Years ago Marc would bring this coin to shows, put it out in the case, and then refuse to price it.  It was “not for sale.”  There were screams of protest, but to no avail.

Perhaps fearing bodily harm, Marc put the coin away.  Gem Seated Dollars do strange things to the people who appreciate them.

Several other nice 1864’s have appeared, also, such as the Drykerman/NIOF coin and Fairfield piece.

 

1865-P

R-7

VR:  2

See 1867-P.

 

1866-P   No Motto (Proof only issue)
There are only two examples traceable of this great rarity.  One was stolen from the Dupont Collection years ago and has not surfaced since.  The other appeared in the Winner Delp Sale (Stack’s) in 1972.  Stack’s called it “perhaps the rarest U.S. silver coin.”  The coin was purchased by A-Mark at Delp Auction, and sold to New England Rare Coin Galleries in 1975.

An excellent argument can be made that this coin is a regular issue, and that without it no collection can be truly complete.  In fact, I corresponded with Louis Eliasberg about it in the mid-‘70s, since there was no 1866 No Motto Dollar in his collection.

Regular issue, Pattern, transitional piece – by any label it is still extremely R*A*R*E, as none are currently known aside from the NERRCG piece.

 

1866-P  With Motto

R-6

VR:  1.8

There are at least two wonder coins known of this date.  One appeared in a NERCA Sale in 1980 at $34,000; the other was sold in the early ’70s by Julian Leidman to Jimmy Hayes.  The price on the latter coin?  $750!

 

 

1867-P

R-7

VR:  2

All three dates (1863-P, 1865-P, 1867-P) are, if and when located, frosty and sharply struck.  The only weakness which could be called diagnostic, or typical, is in Liberty’s head.  Frequently seen with heavy die striations.

 

1868-P

R-7

VR:  2

Are you ready for this one?  In 1980, a Superb Gem traded hands between dealers for $50,000!  Let’s see now…that pro-rates to one million dollars a roll, and since 162 bags were struck, that means…never mind, my calculator went on tilt.

Several dealers called it “the best Seated Dollar I’ve seen.”  The current owner, Robert Koppleman, says he can neither believe the quality of the coin nor the price he paid for it.

 

1869-P

R-7

VR:  2

One author said in his book that over 4,000 uncirculated 1869 dollars exist.  John Dannreuther attributed this incredible mis-statement to “some treasury hoard dream induced stupor.”

 

1870-P

R-6

VR:  1.6

At this point in my analysis – when almost every coin is rare – redundancy sets in.  How many times can you say “rare” without getting an uneasy feeling of overkill?

There are a few Gems recorded over the years, the best remembered by me was owned by Gene Edwards.

 

1870-CC

R-10

VR:   5

Since there is a Gem BU 1870-CC Quarter and Half Dollar in the Carson City Mint Collection, I couldn’t wait to see the Seated Dollars.

One date was missing, one had a hold in it, one had solder on it, and old was a polished low grade Circ.

That’s okay, though.  They were better than the Trade Dollars.

 

1870-S

R-10

VR:  ?

Every time an 1870-S dollar in any grade appears on the market, there is a big write-up in the numismatic publications complete with obverse/reverse photos.

To even imagine that this date might exist in MS-65/better goes beyond fantasy.

 

1871-P

R-6

VR:  1.3

A Treasury hoard date; therefore, there are lots of Gems around.  In fact, they’re flooding the market.  There’s a roll or two on the tape every day.  They’re over promoted by unscrupulous dealers.

Oops, excuse me.  For a moment, I thought I was writing an article on rare coins for “The Wall Street Journal.”

 

1871-CC

R-10

VR:  8

I considered just writing “good luck” and letting this date go, but it wouldn’t be right to say only two words about this great date.  So…lots of luck!

 

1872-P

R-5

VR:  1

This is also a Treasury hoard date, but the quality is a little better on this date than the 1871.  That means you see one every two years instead of every three years.

Notable pieces include the Auction ’81 coin and Fairfield specimen.

 

1872-CC

R-9 (or better)

VR:  4.5

In the past ten years there have been a half dozen or so “60-ish” 1872-CC Dollars on the market.  Many (if four out of six can be called “many”) had deep Prooflike surfaces, outstanding strike, and relatively clean fields.

If any of the “CC” Seated Dollars exist in true MS-65, it is probably this date.

 

1872-S

R-10

VR:  7

If you check back through this article, you will notice that every “S” mint Seated Dollar has an R-10 rating.  As far as I can tell, there are no San Francisco Seated Dollars known in MS-65 – any date.

There are a couple of “Unc.” coins reported, such as Fairfield, one handled by Greg Holloway, and maybe one or two more.

 

1873-P

R-6

VR:  1.2

One superb con owned by NIOF several years ago.  A few other MS-65 pieces reported.  The “Treasury Hoard” seems to have had no affect on today’s supply of Gem coins.

 

1873-CC

R-10

VR:  8

Once again, the “60-ish” coin appears occasionally, such as the Bareford coin or the example Fred Sweeney purchased at the 1973 Boston ANA that had been found in the cornerstone of a Carson City building.

Need I say it? – No Gems reported.

 

1873-S

R-10 (all grades)

VR:   —

This date is unknown in any collection (or anywhere else) in any grade.

There was a reported “discovery piece” years ago.  A numismatic publication wrote it up as fact, then followed it up later with more “information.”  The coin had a hole in it!  Still, even a damaged piece was a great find.  Then, later, more information:  it was a Trade Dollar.

I can see how the confusion developed.  The coins are so similar, except that Liberty’s body faces opposite directions, the eagles face opposite directions, one says “Trade Dollar” and one doesn’t, one was legal tender…ad infinitum.

John Dannreuther summed up this issue in two words:  “Good date.”

 

 

 

The preceding article was originally published as a two-part series in the July and August, 1982 issues of “The Coin Dealer Newsletter.” 

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