General Comments

Those familiar with the series will know that no 1851 dollars were minted in New Orleans. However, the existence of an 1851 with remnants of a New Orleans mintmark has been known for a number of years. The coin, which is unique, was auctioned in early 2016, giving us a chance to study it in detail. The obverse and reverse are pictured above, and an expansion of the mintmark area is pictured below.

1851-(O) mintmark area

Itís long been recognized that this coin is an over-strike. The host planchet was a previously-struck New Orleans dollar. Our study concluded that the coin is an example of our die marriage 1851 OC-P4, a restrike minted in the 1865-1866 timeframe. Since it was minted in 1865 or later the host coin could have been any of the previously-minted New Orleans dollars. The mintmark position eliminates the 1846-O as a possibility. The 1850-O reverse has a mintmark position thatís very similar, making it a possibility. Similarly, both 1859-O and 1860-O have at least one reverse with a very similar mintmark position. Because of the flattening of the underlying mintmark and elimination of other die markers associated with the host coin we concluded that thereís no way to conclusively determine the date of the New Orleans coin which served as the planchet.

Our opinion is that this coin was purposely created by someone at the mint. The host coin was perfectly aligned with the dies so that the mintmark appears in the proper position. The chances that this resulted from random use of a previously struck planchet are remote at best. Significant preparation would have been required to perfectly align the host coin. The midnight minter was certainly involved, apparently in the same time frame in which the restrikes using reverse 1865 PA were created (restrikes of both 1851 and 1852 used this reverse die).

Proof Restrike
Struck on a previously minted New Orleans dollar

Die Pair 1851 P3 - 1865 PA
Date Grid JR of C / 4-2.5 / Level
Obverse Die States a
Estimated Rarity Unique
1, 0 Vertical VSH, VSH
Reverse Die States a

Obverse 1851 P3

The photo below shows the 1851 Obverse P3 attribution grid.

1851 Obverse P3 attribution grid

Obverse 1851 P3 Die States
  1. Perfect die.
No later die states have been observed.

Reverse 1865 PA

Reverse PA exhibits minor die doubling, visible as a widening of the top of the letters UNI. This is shown in the following photo.

Reverse 1865 PA die doubling

The following photo shows an expanded view of the over-struck mintmark.

Reverse 1851-(O) mintmark

Reverse 1865 PA Die States
  1. Perfect die.
No later die states have been observed.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   Courtesy of Stacks-Bowers.
Obverse P3:   1851 J-132 NGC Proof plated, from the Osburn-Cushing reference collection.
Reverse 1865 PA:   1865 PCGS PR55 CAC, from the Osburn-Cushing reference collection.
1851-(O) mintmark:   Courtesy of Stacks-Bowers.

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