1860






General Comments

1860 is similar to 1859 in that it would appear to be a common date based on its mintage ranking of 39th out of 47. We rate the date as scarce, and one of the most under-rated in the series. Most of the coins minted were exported to the Orient and subsequently melted for their silver content. Examples can be located, but patient searching is required. They are scarce in all grades, but more available than 1859 in high grades. They only become rare in gem BU. We note that the Heritage archives show more 1861’s offered than 1860’s, even though the 1861 is considered a Civil War date and one of the keys to the series. With price guide valuing it as a common date, 1860 defines the term “under-rated”.

The finest known business strike is a single MS67 graded by NGC. The finest coin graded by PCGS is a single MS66+. They have graded two additional coins MS66. NGC has graded none at that level. Eight coins have been graded MS65, 3 by PCGS and 5 by NGC. A total of 147 coins have been given a mint state designation by the two major grading services. A few of these surely represent re-submissions, but the date is still much more available than 1859. However, in lower grades it’s at least as scarce, possibly more so. Nearly half of the coins graded by PCGS and NGC are mint state. With most price guides pricing it as a common date in all grades we consider the lower grades to be extremely under-rated. Low grades are rare, emphasizing the fact that most were exported, with few reaching circulation. PCGS and NGC together have graded only seven coins below VF, with 19 more graded at the various VF levels. Population statistics are as of March, 2017.




Mintage 218,930
Proof mintage 1330
Mintage ranking 39th
Finest known MS67
PR67
Known obverse dies 4
Known reverse dies 5
Known die marriages 8
Most common die marriage OC-P1/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-7/ R6
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P1/ R2
The finest known proofs are PR67 examples. PCGS has graded two coins at that level, both given a cameo designation. NGC has graded eight, six of them cameo, with three of the cameos also awarded a star. 23 coins have been given a PR66 designation, 12 by PCGS and 11 by NGC. One of the NGC coins is graded PR66+. 32 have received a PR65 grade. A total of 354 coins have been graded as proofs by the two major grading services, making the proofs more available than the business strikes. As with the business strikes a few of these almost certainly represent re-submissions. Population statistics are as of March, 2017.

1860 examples are usually well struck, occasionally displaying very slight softness on the star centrals and hair detail. Reverses are usually sharp. High-grade business strikes are often prooflike or semi-prooflike. With high mintage and a small number of die pairings we would expect that the dies wore sufficiently to eliminate prooflike surfaces for most examples, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Apparently, the coins that stayed in the United States came from the early part of the mintage. We’ve noted numerous proofs that display slight strike weakness, particularly on a few of the stars and the upper edge of the eagle’s left wing. Since that proof dies were later used to create business strikes it’s possible that these weakly struck proofs are actually early business strikes. We’ve found no conclusive way to separate those coins intended to be proofs from those intended for circulation.

1860 Die Marriages

8 die marriages have been positively identified. Four obverse dies were paired with 5 reverses to strike seven business strike die marriages. All of them are scarce, with three considered rare. One of the business strike marriages is from the same dies used to strike proofs. We’ve given this die marriage a business strike identifier, even though the dies are identical to those used for the proofs. The business strikes were minted after the proof mintage was concluded. OC-P1 is the only proof die marriage that we have confirmed. The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1860:

Click the links below to view the details of the die marriages.

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R3 1 A 300
OC-2 R4 2 B 120
OC-3 R4+ 2 C 100
OC-4 R5- 3 C 75
OC-5 R5 3 D 60
OC-6 R3+ P1 PA 225
OC-7 R6 2 A 20
OC-P1 R2 P1 PA 525


1860 Business Strike Emission Sequence

There is enough overlap among the 6 of the 7 business strike die marriages to identify the emission sequence, although the Reverse A die wear that separates OC-1 and OC-7 is minor. We’ve only examined two pictures of the OC-7 die marriage, so the placement of OC-7 after OC-1 is open to review when we are able to directly examine a high-grade example. The position of OC-6 is arbitrary since the die pair is unique. However, we know that these coins were minted after all proofs were issued, so we assumed that they fall at the end of the sequence.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-1 Placement of OC-1 is arbitrary. We chose to put it at the start of the sequence.
2 OC-7 Reverse A die wear places OC-7 after OC-1.
3 OC-2 Obverse 2 die wear places OC-2 after OC-7 and before OC-3.
4 OC-3 A heavy Obverse 3 die line, apparently from die damage, is noted on all OC-3 examples, but not on OC-2. This places OC-3 after OC-2.
5 OC-4 Obverse 3 clashed midway through the issue. Reverse C is perfect early in the issue. This places OC-4 after OC-3.
6 OC-5 More advanced Obverse 3 die clashing places OC-5 after OC-4.
7 OC-6 No dies are shared with other die marriages (except the proofs). We know that this die marriage was generated after all proofs were minted, therefore late in the year. We assumed that it was last in the sequence.

1860 Proof Emission Sequence

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

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-P1

1860 Quick Finder Chart

Attribution of 1860 die marriages can be difficult. Neither the obverse nor reverse dies display major markers. Date positions are different enough to allow attribution, but the differences are minor, so care must be taken. The following table lists the keys for identifying each variety.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Right
Base of 1

Keys

OC-1 1 A JL of RE Obverse: No notable markers. 1 is vertically centered.
Reverse: No notable markers. The shield recesses are almost completely finished.
OC-2 2 B LE Obverse: Date slants VS down. Die lines in denticles above stars 6-7.
Reverse: Die line in the the denticles above A3. In late states die lines join the lower serifs of E2 and S2.
OC-3 2 C LE Obverse: Date slants VS down. Die lines in denticles above stars 6-7. Die line in gown left of Y.
Reverse: A small die chip off the bottom of the middle arrow shaft, directly above the upper tip of the arrow head.
OC-4 3 C B Obverse: Date slants VS down.
Reverse: A small die chip off the bottom of the middle arrow shaft, directly above the upper tip of the arrow head.
OC-5 3 D B Obverse: Date slants VS down. Heavy clash marks in the drapery near the base of the pole.
Reverse: A light die line in the unfinished area between them joins leaves 1 and 2.
OC-6 P1 PA LE Obverse: Both 1 and 0 are VSH.
Reverse: Faint die lines in the shield recesses.
OC-7 2 A LE Obverse: Date slants VS down. Die lines in denticles above stars 6-7.
Reverse: No notable markers. The shield recesses are almost completely finished.
OC-P1 P1 PA LE Obverse: Both 1 and 0 are VSH.
Reverse: Faint die lines in the shield recesses.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1860 NGC MS65, from the Heritage archives.


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