Description and Analysis
Seated Liberty Dollars
1840 $1 PF
Description & Analysis
The number of proof silver dollars coined with the date 1840 is unknown and likely to remain so. Their manufacture and sale didn't require the same accountability as did coins for circulation, and proofs were treated more like medals than coins. They were struck from the Mint's reserve stock of bullion, rather than being the result of silver deposited by businesses and individual for their own accounts.
Osburn and Cushing identified four die marriages for proofs. These were the product of mixing three obverse dies with a like number of reverses. A fifth die marriage was listed tentatively, as it was reported years ago by Walter Breen but was not available for study. Interestingly, some of the dies were later used for producing currency strikes dated 1840, while one of the reverses is known mated to obverse dies of 1841-54 proofs (excluding 1851 and 1853). The small number of proofs struck during those years made it possible for a die to last more than a decade, as long as it was coated with oil or wax between uses to prevent corrosion.
The certified populations of both NGC and PCGS almost certainly include duplicate submissions, as the total estimate of proof survivors is only about 25 pieces. No one disputes that gems are exceedingly rare.