1859-O






General Comments

1859-O is one of the two most-available dates in the Liberty Seated Dollar series (the other is 1860-O), not because their mintages are the highest, but because of the release of coins from the treasury hoard in the early 1960’s. Dave Bowers cites many estimates of the coins released (reference 4). We can summarize the situation by saying that at least 2000 1859-O coins were released, and that the ratio of 1859-O dated coins to those of 1860-O is about 1:2. As a result mint state examples are extremely common. However, since most of the coins released had been kept in bags for nearly 100 years the average mint state grade is low, and most examples are heavily bag-marked.

Very choice and gem coins are as rare as most other dates in the series. The finest known are three MS65 examples, two graded by PCGS and one by NGC. Another 56 coins have received a MS64 grade, 32 at PCGS (including two MS64+ examples) and 24 at NGC (including 3 MS64+). Several of these coins are almost certainly re-submissions, trying to get one of the MS64 coins into the rarified atmosphere of MS65. Population statistics are as of April, 2017.



Mintage 360,000
Proof mintage None
Mintage ranking 42nd
Finest known MS65
Known obverse dies 2
Known reverse dies 3
Known die marriages 4
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R1
Rarest die marriage OC-5/ R4
Below MS64 the population explodes. Over 700 coins have been graded in the MS60-MS63 range. As noted many of these are heavily bag-marked and therefore not particularly attractive. But if you want a NO MOTTO type coin at the lowest possible price 1859-O and 1860-O are the years to go after. You’ll have a wide range of choices at any large coin show.

1859-O examples are usually well struck. In fact, if strike is one of your strong interests, this is probably one of the best dates in the series for finding examples that are sharply struck. It seems to be the rule rather than the exception. We’ve seen a few examples that display softness on the right-side stars, including a MS65 coin graded by NGC that’s one of the three finest known, but it’s almost tougher to find a coin that displays a weak strike than to find one that’s well-defined. Similarly, we’ve seen a few that show some flatness on the eagle’s left talon, but only a few. This is one of the few dates that almost never shows weakness on the upper left edge of the eagle’s wing. They may be common, but at least you can find them well struck!

1859-O surfaces are usually frosty. They can be found prooflike, but with a large mintage and only four die pairs identified so far, the runs were long enough that most of the coins exhibit frosty surfaces.

1859-O Die Marriages


Two obverse dies were paired with three reverses to strike a total of four die marriages. None seem to be rare, although locating an example of OC-5 can be difficult. Note that OC-4 is unassigned, as is Reverse C. We originally believed that a third Obverse die and fourth reverse existed in a die marriage OC-4. However, after completing our research in the Heritage archives we determined that Obverse 3 was a late state of Obverse 1. Similarly, Reverse C was an early state of Reverse A. To maintain our practice of not changing die marriage terminology after the initial publication of our web site (www.seateddollarvarieties.com) we’ve eliminated die marriage OC-4 and Reverse die C while maintaining all other previously defined die identifiers and die marriage nomenclature.

Click the links below to view the details of the known 1859-O die marriages.

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R1 1 A 4000
OC-2 R1 1 B 2000
OC-3 R2 2 B 850
OC-5 R4 1 D 150

We note that Breen (reference 20) identified two different varieties. He listed Breen 5459 as “normal date, heavy mintmark”. Breen 5460 was listed as “Heavy date, thin mintmark”. We don’t consider the differences as significant enough to note, but believe that Breen 5459 would be our die marriages OC-1 and OC-5. Breen 5460 would be our die marriages OC-2 and OC-3.

As can be seen from the survival estimates most of the coins released by the Treasury in the early 1960’s were die marriages OC-1 and OC-2.

1859-O Emission Sequence

Each 1859-O die marriage shared one or both dies with at least one other marriage. This allowed conclusive determination of the emission sequence.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-5 Largest unfinished area under the chin indicates that this is the earliest use of Obverse 1. Obverse 1 clashed during this usage.
2 OC-1 Obverse 1 clashing advanced from state b to state d during this usage.
3 OC-2 Obverse 1 was polished before this usage. This die marriage has been seen only with obverse state d, but with both reverse states a and b.
5 OC-3 This die marriage has been seen only with reverse die state b.

1859-O Quick Finder Chart

1859-O examples can be difficult to attribute, even though very few dies are involved. Reverses A and D are very similar. Obverse 1 was used to strike most of the coins issued during the year, making it one of the most-used dies in the entire series. The differences between the diagnostics for early and late die states can be significant, making some examples appear to have a different obverse.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Right
Base of 1

Keys

OC-1 1 A L QTR Obverse:    No notable markers other than date position. RB of 1 is L QTR.
Reverse:    Mintmark high, very close to stem and feather tip, slightly left of centered, slight CW rotation. Die cracked in later states.
OC-2 1 B L QTR Obverse:    No notable markers other than date position. RB of 1 is L QTR.
Reverse:    Mintmark well-separated from stem and feather tip. A tiny lump at the top of the first shield recess. Other markers at the top of recesses #2 and #3.
OC-3 2 B R QTR Obverse:    A tiny lump on the hemline right of the shield tip. RB of 1 is R QTR.
Reverse:    Mintmark well-separated from stem and feather tip. A tiny lump at the top of the first shield recess. Other markers at the top of recesses #2 and #3.
OC-5 1 D L QTR Obverse:    No notable markers other than date position. RB of 1 is L QTR.
Reverse:    Mintmark high, very close to stem and feather tip, slightly left of centered, slight CCW rotation. Lumps created by die rust around ONE, leaves, and lower left wing.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1859-O NGC MS65, tied for finest known, ex. Gene Gardner, from the Heritage archives.


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