General Comments

1842 is one of the most common dates in the Liberty Seated dollar series, with a mintage ranking of 38th 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 finest known business strikes are three MS64+ coins graded by PCGS. The two major services have graded a total of 40 coins MS64, 20 at PCGS and 20 at NGC. 37 additional coins have been graded MS63. With no coins graded MS65 it’s safe to assume that several re-submissions are represented in these statistics. A total of 182 coins have been graded in all mint state grades. Population statistics are as of January, 2019.

In proof format, this date is a significant rarity. The finest known proofs are two PR65 examples, one graded by PCGS, one by NGC. Eight additional coins have been graded in lower proof grades, two in PR64 three in PR63, three at lower levels. The lowest of these is PR61. Population statistics are as of January, 2019.

Mintage 184,618
Proof mintage 25 estimated
Mintage ranking 38th
Finest known MS64+
Known obverse dies 7
Known reverse dies 3
Known die marriages 8
Most common die marriage OC-2/ R1
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-6/ R6
Rarest proof strike die marriage OC-P1/ R6+
1842 business strikes are usually reasonably well struck, but show some weakness on the star centrals and hair detail. The left side stars are normally flat for die marriage OC-1, but better defined for the other marriages. Wing feathers are usually well defined, but occasionally will show some weakness on the eagle’s left leg.

High-grade business strikes are sometimes prooflike, but more often frosty. Prooflike and/or sharply struck examples can be located with patient searching.

1842 Die Marriages

8 die pairs have been positively identified. 6 obverse dies were paired with 2 reverse dies to strike seven business strike die pairs. One of these is very scarce, another very rare. The other 5 can be easily located. None of these business strike dies were used for proofs.

A single proof die marriage was issued, using a unique obverse die paired with the reverse die used for almost all original proof issues from 1840 through 1854. We estimate a total proof population of around 15.

The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1842:

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

Die Marriage


Obverse Die

Reverse Die

Estimated Survivors

OC-1 R3 1 A 425
OC-2 R1 2 A 1675
OC-3 R2 3 A 1125
OC-4 R1 3 B 1250
OC-5 R5- 4 B 75
OC-6 R6 5 B 20
OC-7 R2 6 B 930
OC-P1 R6+ P1 1840 PA15

1842 Business Strike Emission Sequence

The 1842 emission sequence can be accurately determined since only two reverse dies were used for the 7 die marriages. We have considerable confidence in the first 4 marriages in the sequence. Reverse A, used for the first 3 die marriages, was polished several times, each time removing some of the unfinished areas that are present in its initial state. By observing the reduction in these areas, we were able to accurately determine the order of the first 3 marriages. Reverse A was then retired and replaced with reverse B, without changing the obverse die, Obverse 3. Obverse 3 exhibits notable degradation during its use. In its final state, it exhibits light rim cuds below the date. These are seen only on die marriage OC-4, which places that marriage as the next in the sequence. The sequence following OC-4 is more difficult. Reverse B showed virtually no degradation during its use. The only change in state that we’ve observed is a small rim cud that appears as state b. We’ve seen that state on only a single coin, so we would feel more comfortable if we saw another example to confirm it. We’ve tentatively used it to place die marriage OC-7 at the end of the sequence. We’ve made our best guess to determine the placement of the other two marriages. Our estimate of the emission sequence is documented in the following table.

Emission Order

Die Marriage


1 OC-1 Unfinished areas of reverse A are reduced by die polishing in each of the first 3 die marriages.
2 OC-2
3 OC-3
4 OC-4 Obverse 3 rim cuds indicate that OC-4 followed OC-3.
5 OC-5
6 OC-6
7 OC-7 The only pairing of reverse B state b (an observed but unconfirmed die state) indicates that OC-7 is the terminal die state for Reverse B.

1842 Proof Emission Sequence

With only a single proof die marriage the emission sequence is simple.

Emission Order

Die Marriage


1 OC-P1

1842 Quick Finder Chart

1842 coins are relatively easy to attribute. Only 2 reverse dies were used. They can usually be easily identified even on low-grade coins. 6 obverse dies were used, but the date positions are different. The best approach to attribution is to first identify the reverse die, then choose from the obverse dies known to be paired with that reverse the one which best fits your coin. This approach should allow quick attribution of almost any coin down to a grade of VG.

Die Marriage

Obv. Die

Rev. Die

Right Base of 1

1 Verticle

2 Verticle


Keys to Identification

OC-1 1 A LE SH SH 4-4.5 Obverse:   Die lines from shield edge below Y. Die lines in field above right arm.
Reverse:   3 parallel die lines slant slightly down in upper left shield recess.
OC-2 2 A JR of C VSH VSH 5-5.0 Obverse:   Far right date, 5-5.0.
Reverse:   3 parallel die lines slant slightly down in upper left shield recess.
OC-3 3 A R QTR VSH SH 5-2.0 Obverse:   Die lines parallel left arm above finger.
Reverse:   3 parallel die lines slant slightly down in upper left shield recess.
OC-4 3 B R QTR VSH SH 5-2.0 Obverse:   Die lines parallel left arm above finger.
Reverse:   2-2 and 2-3 across first shield border at bottom.
OC-5 4 B L QTR VSL C 5-2.5 Obverse:   Heavy die line above the bend of the right elbow.
Reverse:   2-2 and 2-3 across first shield border at bottom.
OC-6 5 B B C SL 5-5.5 Obverse:   Far right date, 5.4.5.
Reverse:   2-2 and 2-3 across first shield border at bottom.
OC-7 6 B B SL SL 5-4.0 Obverse:   2 in rock. Die lines above leg left of pole. Die chip in denticles above star 8. Obverse cuds in late states.
Reverse:   2-2 and 2-3 across first shield border at bottom.
OC-P1 P1 1840 PA LE C VSL 5-5.5 Obverse:   Repunched 1. 1 is centered. Date slants slightly down.
Reverse:   Defects on A3.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1842 PCGS PR65, ex. Norweb/Kaufman, from the Heritage archives.

Copyright © 2015-2021, by Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing, All rights reserved.