Seated Liberty dollar, 1836–1873


Obverse Design: Liberty seated on a boulder
Reverse Design: Eagle with outstretched wings and the Union shield on its breast
Edge: Plain
Weight: Originals – ±27.0 grams, Restrikes – ±26.7 grams
Diameter: ±39 millimeters
Composition: Originals – Silver (89.2%), Copper (10.8%), Restrikes – Silver (90%), Copper (10%)
Dates Minted: 1836-1873
Designer: Obverse by Thomas Sully, reverse by Titian Peale, both executed by Christian Gobrecht

The Seated Liberty Silver Dollar coin of 1840 to 1873 was the first regular issue coin of this denomination since 1803 (technically, the 1804 Dollar was struck in 1834 and restruck in the 1860s). Seated Liberty Dollars were introduced in 1840 and were minted in larger quantities than the sparsely minted Gobrecht Dollar that preceded it. The design was based on the Gobrecht dollar, but the soaring eagle used on the reverse of that coin was replaced with a heraldic eagle. In 1866, “In God We Trust” was added to the dollar as well as other denominations following its introduction to United States coinage. Seated Liberty dollar production was officially halted by the Coinage Act of 1873, which authorized the trade dollar, although silver dollar production resumed in 1878 with the Morgan Dollar. The dollars were used in general circulation until 1853. By 1853, the value of a US Silver Dollar contained in gold terms, $1.07 of silver. With the Mint Act of 1853, all US Silver coins, except for the US Silver Dollar and new 3 cent coin, were reduced by 6.9% as of weight with arrows on the date to denote reduction. The Silver Dollar was continued to be minted in very small numbers mainly as a foreign trade to the Orient.

The international trading partners did not like the fact that US coins were reduced in weight. From 1853 onwards, trade with Asia was typically done with Mexican coins that kept their weight and purity in the 19th Century. This ended in 1874 when the price of silver dropped so that a silver dollar has less than $1.00 worth of silver in it. By 1876, all silver coins were being used as money and by 1878, gold was at par with all US paper dollars. Beginning in 1878, huge amounts of the Morgan silver dollars were produced but few were used as money. The size was too large to carry on business so silver certificates were used instead. The mint make the coins, placed them in their vaults and issued the Silver Certificates instead. This is the reason so many Morgan and Peace dollars can be purchased in AU or UNC condition.

Each coin is composed of 0.77344 troy oz of silver. They were minted at Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City, and San Francisco. A Silver dollar is worth $1 in silver at $1.31 per troy ounce.

Collecting Seated Liberty dollar

Mintages for the Seated Liberty dollar only reached 1 million in two years: 1871 and 1872, with a mintage of around 1.1 million in both years. In most cases, mintages were 180,000 or less. The rarities of the series include the following: 1851 (retails $3,150 in Good), 1853 (retails $2,700 in Good), 1854 (retails $1,000 in Good), 1858 (a Proof only issue, retailing $3,000), 1871-CC (retails 2,000 in Good), 1873-CC (retails $900 in Good), and 1873-CC (retails 2,300 in Good). I have left out two pieces that are so rare, abandon all hope of ever owning them: the 1870-S, of which 12-15 are know, would fetch at least $65,000 in Fine condition, and the 1873-S where supposedly 700 were struck, but none are known today.

“Common” dates would include the 1859-O, 1860-O, 1871 and 1872. All these dates retail about $190 in Good, $240 in Fine, $425 in Extra Fine. The Seated Liberty dollar circulated, but not too extensively, which is why there aren’t usually big price jumps from Good to Fine condition, as there would be in other U.S. coin series. Though it may be difficult to find a high-grade piece of Extra Fine or higher, it’s not too hard to find a Seated Liberty dollar in at least, Fine condition.

Seated Liberty dollar counterfeit

The eBay seller accurately describes a Seated Liberty silver dollar, but they did not make Seated Liberty silver dollars in 1877.
The only SL dollars with an O mint mark were struck in 1850, 1859, and 1860. Since the O mint mark plainly shows under the eagle, it seems like the date 1850, 1859, or 1860 was changed to 1877. Look at the date closely. You can readily see the alteration.

Its a modern Chinese couterfiet of a non-existant US coin. In summary, the value of a modern Chinese counterfeit is essentially zero. In America, it is illegal to own counterfeit coins unless they are properly annotated with the word COPY stamped into the design.

It’s obvious the second Seated Silver Dollar is a counterfeit. The most obvious flaw is the scroll with motto on the reverse, all pre-1866 Seated Dollars didn’t have a motto or the scroll on the reverse.

Another obvious problem, is that the coin appears to be “cleaned” but this is more likely caused by the die being polished to mimic circulation wear. It’s a popular tactic among counterfeiters to make a coin look more authentic and to hide incorrect design elements from looking obvious.

Furthermore, this coin doesn’t have the word COPY stamped on it’s surface, making this particular coin illegal to own. Some might argue that since there’s no such thing as an 1847 Seated Liberty Dollar, with a motto on the reverse, then it’s just a fake reproduction.

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