VarietyPlus » Seated Liberty Silver Dollar Die Varieties (1840-1873)

Seated Liberty Silver Dollar Die Varieties (1840-1873)

When Christian Gobrecht's Seated Liberty silver dollar design was finally adopted for circulating coins in 1840, it appeared in a noticeably modified form. The seated figure itself was sculpted anew by Robert Ball Hughes, while the bold flying eagle used on the rare issues of 1836-39 silver dollars was set aside in favor of the conventional heraldic eagle reverse that had been used on the fractional silver coins since 1807. This was done so that the dollar would be in conformance with the Seated Liberty Quarter and Half Dollar pieces, which were already circulating with the old style reverse. There is also some evidence that the Flying Eagle reverse did not strike up well, and it may have been replaced on the silver dollar for that reason.

Coinage of the Seated Liberty Silver Dollar was modest in most years. This denomination was already well represented by the many Spanish eight-reales pieces in circulation, and there existed little domestic need for the American version. There were occasional spikes in the mintage figures when silver dollars were needed for export, but this was the exception to the rule. Most coins of this type were struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The branch mints frequently received silver dollar dies that went unused, and only occasionally did they produce coins.

While Seated Liberty silver dollars were collected by date from the outset, most numismatists focused on acquiring proof examples. Currency pieces were sought only when proofs were prohibitively rare, as with the 1853 silver dollar. Otherwise, the collecting of non-proofs and branch mint coins was largely unknown until the 20th Century. Seated Liberty silver dollars have never been especially popular with collectors, though they haveexperienced more interest since the formation of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club in 1974.

Mint state Seated Liberty Silver Dollars are rare, with just a few exceptions, and even nice circulated examples are quite elusive. Completing a Seated Liberty Silver Dollar series by date and mint is possible, though the great rarity of the mysterious 1870-S Dollar has caused it to be excluded by most collectors. Also quite rare, but collectable, are the Carson City Mint dollars of 1871-73.

Due to generally small mintages that required few dies, there are only a handful of collectable varieties within the Seated Liberty Silver Dollar series. NGC will attribute VarietyPlus varieties of Seated Liberty Silver Dollars, and this includes most of the few Cherrypicker listings. The Bowers encyclopedia includes a few more, but these have elicited little interest from collectors.

Denom.MS/PFDateFee*NGC LabelBreenFlynn
S$1MS1859 18/18 S$15VP-001B-5462 
S$1MS1866 MOTTO-   
S$1MS1867/186 $15VP-001B-5478 
S$1MS1868 MPD$15VP-001 MPD-002
S$1MS1871 MPD$15FS-301  
S$1MS1872 MPD$15VP-001B-5491 
S$1PF1851 -   
S$1PF1866 NO MOTTO-   
S$1PF1866 MOTTO-   
S$1PF1867/186 $15VP-001B-5478 

* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading. VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC. For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Bowers, Q. David. Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, Volume One, 1794-1885. Bowers & Merena Galleries, Inc., Wolfeboro, NH., 1993
Bowers, Q. David. A Buyer's Guide to Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States, 3rd Edition. Zyrus Press, Irvine, CA, 2006
Fivaz, Bill & J.T. Stanton, Ken Potter, Editor. The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th Edition, Volume 2. Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2012