1858





General Comments

1858 is a proof-only year. No business strikes were issued. Weve seen no good explanation for the lack of business strikes. David Bowers (reference 4) speculates that there was simply no demand for dollars that year. However, extremely large numbers of lower denomination silver coins were issued, so it seems there would have been at least a small demand. On the other hand, a consensus opinion is that large numbers of 1857 dated dollars were exported to the orient and melted there, which would confirm a lack of demand within the United States. Well let the historians decide the true reason for the total lack of business strikes.

1858 is one of the most desirable dates in the Liberty Seated Dollar series due to its low mintage, rarity, and its status as a proof-only issue. No mint records have been found, but most estimates put the mintage at around 300 pieces. With this mintage ranking 3rd out of 47 the collector would expect that it would be incredibly rare. However, since all the coins issued were minted for collectors the survival rate is considerably higher than that of dates that were struck for use in commerce. Examples are expensive but available. Ten or more are offered each year, usually at auctions. Examples are occasionally found in dealer inventories.




Proof mintage 300 originals
10 restrikes
(estimated)
Mintage ranking 3rd
Finest known PR67+
Cameo
Known obverse dies 1
Known reverse dies 2
Known die marriages 2
Most common die marriage OC-P1/ R4-
Rarest die marriage OC-P2/ R7+
The highest currently graded coin is a single PR67+ Cameo graded by NGC. The NGC population report shows four more at the PR66 level. The highest graded at PCGS is a single PR65+. They have graded four additional coins PR65, while NGC has graded seven at that level. At the PR64 level PCGS has graded eleven coins while NGC has graded fifteen. Its probable that several of these coins represent re-submissions. Population statistics are as of February, 2017.

Strike isnt an issue for this date since all were proofs. The obverse strikes are almost always needle sharp. The reverses sometimes show some weakness on the upper edge of the left wing. Its possible that these coins were struck in two different groups, one of which shows the reverse weakness. The well-struck coins seem to be slightly more prevalent.

1858 Die Marriages


Two die marriages have been identified for 1858. A single obverse die was paired with two different reverse dies. The following table summarizes the known die marriages, with specific comments following.

Die Marriage

Rarity

Obverse Die

Reverse Die

Estimated Survivors

OC-P1 R4- P1 1856 PA 175
OC-P2 R7+ P1 1859 PA 5

The more common die marriage, our OC-P1, pairs the 1858 obverse with Reverse 1856 PA, previously used to strike proofs in 1856, and 1857. The finest known example is a PR67+ encapsulated by NGC.

The second die marriage, our OC-P2, is somewhat controversial. This marriage pairs the same obverse die used for OC-P1 with a reverse die that is seen on 1859 regular issue proofs and 1851, 1852, and 1854 restrikes. Several references indicate that this die marriage is as common (or nearly so) as the OC-P1 marriage. Our research shows that its at least R7+, with 5 or less coins existing. After reviewing over 60 sales in the Heritage archives, representing nearly 50 different coins, we found only one example, an NGC PR65 with a CAC sticker. One other example, a PCGS PR64 with a CAC sticker, was sold by Stacks-Bowers when they auctioned the Blue Moon collection in March, 2017.

Based on our analysis of the obverse die states we believe that OC-P1 is the earlier issue. This makes it very possible that OC-P2 is a restrike, since the same reverse was used to strike at least three other restrikes. However, we havent been able to personally examine an example of the OC-P2 die marriage, so our conclusion is based only on high resolution photos. If we have an opportunity to examine an example of OC-P2 it may be possible to compare the state of the 1859 PA die to confirm that the 1858 coins were minted after 1859. We should also note that weve seen several examples of OC-P1 that exhibit an unfinished area under the chin thats much less than many examples of that die marriage, and also much less than the two examples weve seen of OC-P2. That would mean that part of the OC-P1 mintage was produced at a different time, after the obverse die had been polished, and after the OC-P2 mintage. Thus, its possible that both OC-P2 and part of the OC-P1 mintage are restrikes.

1858 Emission Sequence


Emission sequence is important for this year because we believe that both OC-P2 and part of the OC-P1 mintage are restrikes.

Emission Order

Die Marriage

Comments

1 OC-P1
2 OC-P2 Unfinished area under the chin reduced, indicating that the die was polished either during the OC-P1 run or between OC-P1 and OC-P2
1 OC-P1 Several examples seen with the unfinished area under the chin significantly reduced relative to both the early strikes of OC-P1 and OC-P2


It should be noted that the obverse die states of OC-P1 and OC-P2 are virtually identical, so our emission sequence conclusion has some degree of uncertainty. Were hoping that at some time in the future well have an opportunity to examine several coins together, including an example of the OC-P2 die marriage, to increase our confidence in the emission sequence described above.

1858 Quick Finder Chart


With only 1 obverse die and 2 die marriages 1858 die marriages are relatively easy to identify. The following chart gives the key attribution points for each die marriage.

Die Marriage

Obv. Die

Rev. Die

Right Base
of 1

Keys to Identification

OC-P1 P1 1856 PA L QTR Obverse Centered date.
Reverse Small lumps on the top of the lower left side of the L in DOL.
OC-P2 P1 1859 PA L QTR Obverse Centered date.
Reverse Notable lumps in the eagle's lower left wing.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1858 NGC PR66, ex. Kaufman/ Gardner, from the Heritage archives.


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