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It is quite likely that these were the first San Francisco Mint silver dollars coined in 1879, using reverse dies that remained unused in the previous year. The number of actual dies employed, or the quantity minted from these old reverse dies, is not known today. At the time these coins were struck, nobody gave any thought to recording the number of coins struck from each individual die, and even if they had, it is likely that the records would not have specified old or new dies. Although it has only become a popular rarity in the last 40 years, discovery of this variety is credited to George W. Rice who made a brief mention of it in the June 1898 issue of The Numismatist. At the 1913 ANA Convention, Howard Rounds Newcomb displayed an example and reported that it was a rarity. A discussion of this variety and its display appeared in the October 1913 issue of The Numismatist. The exact number of these coins struck is not specifically known today. The Van Allen and Mallis (VAM) Encyclopedia describes varieties produced from seven different reverse dies of this hub type. Dave Bowers suggested a mintage of 600,000 coins, assuming a mintage of 100,000 coins per die for 'a half dozen or more die pairs.' Given the scarcity in Mint State grades, and the rarity in Gem quality, the actual number struck is probably not more than this, although it is not known how many may have been melted under provisions of the Pittman Act.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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