General Comments

1841 is a common date in the Liberty Seated dollar series, with a mintage ranking of 37th out of 47. Examples are easy to locate in virtually any grade desired. They only become rare in choice to gem BU, MS63 or better.

The single finest known business strike is a MS65+ graded by PCGS. Two coins have been graded MS65, one by PCGS and one by NGC. Nine additional coins have been graded MS64, five by PCGS (two of these MS64+) and four by NGC. A few of these almost certainly represent re-submissions. A total of 127 coins have been graded in all mint state grades. Population statistics are as of January, 2019.

In proof format, this date is a classic rarity. The finest known proof is a single PR64 example graded by PCGS, the Pittman-Gardner coin, sold by Heritage in October, 2014. Five additional coins have been graded PR63, one by PCGS, four by NGC. One of the NGC coins was evaluated as PR63+. No others are known at any grade level. One of the four coins graded as proofs by NGC is our die marriage OC-4. This coin was sold by Stacks-Bowers during Rarities Night of their 2017 Summer ANA sale. The catalog states: “The fact that the present example was struck from a different die than the other known survivors supports the linked theories of multiple striking periods, and the distribution of some coins individually.” The coin is very well struck for an 1841, leading us to concur that their explanation is possibly factual. However, other factors, most notably the rim cuds that are visible below the date, lead us to believe that this coin is a very prooflike business strike. We don’t believe that dies with such a notable rim defect would have been acceptable for striking proofs. Thus, it’s likely that no more than 6 true proofs are currently known. One of these, a low-grade example in an ICG VG8 holder, was discovered only recently. It was brought to our table at the 2020 Winter FUN show. The collector who found it had used our book to identify the die marriage. He brought it to us to confirm the attribution. After confirming has attribution we were able to tell him that he had found only the 6th known example of a 1841 proof dollar.

Mintage 173,000
Proof mintage 15 estimated
Mintage ranking 37th
Finest known MS65+
Known obverse dies 3
Known reverse dies 4
Known die marriages 5
Most common die marriage OC-2/ R1
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-1/ R2
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P1 / R7
1841 business strikes are often weakly struck, displaying softness on the hair detail. Stars are usually reasonably well struck, with occasional softness on the centrals. The upper left wing is very often weak. The most common die marriage, OC-2, is almost always very weakly struck, with the weakness particularly notable on the upper edge of the left wing. We can’t recall seeing an example that displayed a full strike on both sides.

High-grade business strikes are sometimes prooflike, but more often frosty. With high mintage, only four business strike die pairings, and only two business strike obverse dies, the dies wore sufficiently to eliminate prooflike surfaces for most examples. Nice prooflike examples can be located with patient searching.

1841 Die Marriages

5 die marriages have been positively identified. Two obverse dies were paired with 3 reverse dies, one transitional from 1840, to strike four business strike die pairs. None of these dies were used for proofs. A single proof die marriage has been identified, combining a unique obverse die with the reverse die used for almost all original proofs through 1854.

The table below summarizes the known die marriages for 1841. Breen lists a “small stars” proof, Breen 5427. We haven’t noted any significant difference in the size of the stars. However, since we’ve identified only one proof die marriage, it’s not really an issue.

Click the links below to view the details of each die marriage.

Die Marriage


Obverse Die

Reverse Die

Estimated Survivors

OC-1 R2 1 1840 A 700
OC-2 R1 1 A 1950
OC-3 R2 2 1840 A 900
OC-4 R1 2 B 1700
OC-P1 R7 P1 1840 PA 8

1841 Business Strike Emission Sequence

The obverse die sequences were easily determined due to die polishing on later states of obverse 1 and rim cuds on the late state of obverse 2.

Emission Order

Die Marriage


1 OC-1 Obverse 1 exhibits repunching on the 4 in early states of OC-1. Evidence of the repunching has been removed by die polishing in the OC-2 usage, indicating that OC-1 was the first issue.
2 OC-2 Evidence of repunching on the 4 has been removed by die polishing, indicating that OC-2 was issued after OC-1. Placements of OC-2 and OC-3 are arbitrary.
3 OC-3 A greater extent of die polishing on Reverse 1840 A indicates that OC-3 was issued after OC-1. Placements of OC-2 and OC-3 are arbitrary.
4 OC-4 Rim cuds below date in the latest die state indicate that OC-4 was issued after OC-3.

1841 Quick Finder Chart

Notably different date placement makes the 3 obverse dies easy to identify. The reverse differences are subtle, but attribution should be easy for any examples grading F12 or better. The steps that lead to quick attribution are as follows: First use the date placement to identify the obverse die. Each obverse is paired with just two reverses (only one for the proof). Next review the die markers that characterize the reverses paired with your obverse. Finally use these markers to identify the reverse, and thus the die marriage. None of the die marriages are particularly rare, so only those collectors wishing to assemble a die marriage set need to worry about attribution.

Die Marriage

Obv. Die

Rev. Die

Right Base
of 1

Keys to Identification

OC-1 1 1840 A L QTR Obverse - Right date, 5-4.0. Repunched 4. Light die lines extend down to the right from the lower right edge of the shield.
Reverse - Vertical shield line 3-3 extends through the inside shield border.
OC-2 1 A L QTR Obverse - Right date, 5-4.0. Light die lines from shield still visible. Repunched 4 gone.
Reverse - Vertical shield line 1-2 extends into the horizontal lines to line 5.
OC-3 2 1840 A B Obverse - Left date, 4-4.5. Die lines slant down to the right above the leg, left of the pole base.
Reverse - Vertical shield line 3-3 extends through the inside shield border.
OC-4 2 B B Obverse - Left date, 4-4.5. Die lines slant down to the right above the leg, left of the pole.
Reverse - A faint die line visible in shield recesses 3 and 4, extending across the vertical shield lines, just above the middle of the recesses.
OC-P1 P1 1840 PA C Obverse - A tiny but strong die dot in the gown just above and left of the pole.
Reverse - Defects on A3.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1841 PCGS PR64 CAC, finest known, ex. Pittman, from the Heritage archives.

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