The recovery of a cache of silver Seated Liberty Half Dollars from the SS Republic has allowed for an unprecedented study of 1861 coins struck at the New Orleans mint.
Full Set of Die Marriages to be Displayed for First Time Ever at NGC's ANA Booth
The recovery of a cache of silver Seated Liberty Half Dollars from the SS Republic
has allowed for an unprecedented study of 1861 coins struck at the New Orleans mint.
Odyssey Marine Exploration, the leader in deep-ocean shipwreck exploration and the
company that discovered and delicately recovered the coins, commissioned noted Seated
Liberty half dollar expert, Randall E. Wiley, to carefully review the 1861-O halves
remaining in the Odyssey inventory. Wiley's extensive examination has allowed, for
the first time ever, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) to certify the die marriage
and attribution of each coin to either the Union, State of Louisiana, or the Confederate
States of America (CSA) control of the New Orleans Mint.
Thousands of coins were individually studied by Wiley and each was attributed to
a specific die "marriage" or die variety. Among the SS Republic
silver half dollars recovered by Odyssey Marine, Wiley found examples struck from
all 14 die marriages used in production by the United States, Louisiana, and the
Confederacy in 1861. Only the 15th die marriage, pairing the Federal Seated Liberty
obverse with the Confederate-made CSA reverse design, was not found aboard the SS
Republic. Just four specimens of the famous "CSA Reverse" half
dollar are known to exist, as the coin was not put into production. The last one
sold at auction brought $632,500.
Of the 15 obverse/reverse die marriages identified by Wiley, and based on the conclusions
he published in the November 2005 Gobrecht Journal, a quarterly publication
for collectors of the Liberty Seated coin series, only two were attributed to the
federal government's control of the mint. His findings further indicated that the
balance of die marriages were used by the secessionist State of Louisiana and subsequently
by the Confederate States of America.
All of the 1861-O Seated halves recovered from the SS Republic still in
Odyssey's inventory are scheduled to be re-certified by NGC to identify their die
marriage and attribution to either the Union, the State of Louisiana, or the Confederacy.
New labels will note the coin's specific die marriage and issuing government in
addition to its SS Republic pedigree. A complete set of all 14 die marriages
and 3 die varieties will be displayed for the first time ever at NGC's booth at
the ANA World's Fair of Money® convention, August 16-19, 2006, in Denver, Colorado.
Some of the die-marriages/varieties recovered from the SS Republic were
in very limited quantities, so only a small number of full sets are possible. Odyssey
Marine plans to offer a handful of these sets for sale. Collectors will also have
the opportunity to own a set of 1861-O half dollars attributed to all three governments.
There will also be an offering of 1861-O halves struck from the same obverse die
used to mint the rare and famous Confederate Half Dollar.
Collectors desiring more information about the 1861-O half dollars from the SS Republic
may contact Odyssey Marine at (800) 575-6468, or by visiting Odyssey's Web site