The finest known proof is a single PR69, the Kaufman coin, graded by NGC. NGC has graded two additional coins
at the PR68 level, both given a cameo designation, and four more at PR67. The highest proof graded by PCGS is
a single PR67+ cameo example. They’ve given 13 additional coins a PR66 rating, two of these evaluated as PR66+.
NGC has graded 6 coins at the PR66 level, with one of those receiving a plus and a star. A total of 377 coins
have been graded at all levels of proof by the two major services. This figure underscores the number of
re-submissions that are represented in the grading service population reports. We estimate that only 300
proofs exist for this date. Population statistics are as of February, 2019.
In 1863 silver dollar mintage recovered somewhat from its bottom in 1862, but was still low, just over 27,000 coins.
This date is similar to 1862. It’s very popular with collectors due to both low mintage and its status as a Civil
War date. 1863 coins are rare in any grade. Price guides reflect the rarity of the date, pricing it accordingly.
Still the date often trades well above most price guides.
Nice examples can be located, but patient searching is required. High grades, both proof and business strikes, are
most available. Population reports show that over 40% of the business strikes currently in holders are MS60 or
better, with over 20% in various grades of AU. Problem-free examples in grades lower than XF are rare, though a
little more available than any of the other Philadelphia-minted coins after 1849. They will generally bring much
higher prices than most price guides would indicate.
The finest known business strike is a single MS67+ example graded by NGC. Two additional coins have been given a
MS67 grade, one by NGC and one by PCGS. Five have been graded MS66, four by PCGS and one by NGC. Another four coins
have received a MS65 grade. Only in MS64 does the date become somewhat available, with 39 coins graded at that level.
A total of 107 coins have been graded at all levels of mint state. As with all dates several of these grading
records surely represent re-submissions. As noted previously this date is far more available in high grades than low.
Collectors seeking a G-VF set will have a real challenge. PCGS and NGC together have graded only 22 coins below VF,
with another 34 graded at the various VF levels. Population statistics are as of February, 2019.
|Mintage ||27,660 |
|Proof mintage ||460 |
|Mintage ranking ||19th |
|Finest known ||MS67+ |
|Known obverse dies ||2 |
|Known reverse dies ||3 |
|Known die marriages ||3 |
|Most common die marriage ||OC-1/ R3- |
|Rarest business strike die marriage ||OC-1/ R3- |
|Rarest proof die marriage ||OC-P1/ R4 |
1863 examples are usually well struck. Star centrals are usually sharply defined, and all other details above
average. Reverses are almost always sharp. High-grade business strikes are often prooflike or semi-prooflike,
but frosty examples are equally available.
1863 Die Marriages
3 die marriages have been positively identified. A single die pair was used to strike all business strikes.
Neither die was used for proofs. A single obverse die was paired with two different reverses to produce two
proof die marriages. Both proof reverses are transitional. Reverse PA is re-used in 1864 for two additional
die marriages, Reverse PB for one. The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1863.
Click the links below to view the details of each die marriages.
||R3- ||1 ||A ||450 |
||R4 ||P1 ||PA ||130 |
||R4- ||P1 ||PB ||170 |
We note that Dave Bowers (reference 4) described two proof die marriages, but with two different obverse dies.
We have observed that with motto patterns (J-345, J-346, and J-347) were struck with a different obverse die.
This indicates that a second die was available. However, we’ve been unable to confirm its use to strike
regular issue proofs. The reverse die used for these patterns was our Reverse 1870 PA, indicating that they were
probably struck in the 1870 timeframe.
1863 Business Strike Emission Sequence
With only a single business strike die marriage the emission sequence is simple.
|1 ||OC-1 || |
1863 Proof Emission Sequence
We believe that progressing die polish on Obverse P1 indicates that the sequence listed below is correct.
However, the differences are minute, and open to interpretation. Suffice it to say that we made our best educated guess.
|1 ||OC-P1 || |
|2 ||OC-P2 ||Die polish slightly reduced the unfinished area under the chin |
1863 Quick Finder Chart
Attribution of 1863 die marriages is relatively easy. Neither the obverse nor reverse dies display major markers,
but the obverse date positions are notably different on the two known obverse dies. The only challenge is
differentiating the two known proof reverse dies. Fortunately, proofs are usually relatively high grades,
making the minor diagnostics visible. The following table lists the keys for identifying each variety:
Base of 1
|OC-1 ||1 ||A ||C
||Obverse: 1 is VSH. |
Reverse: A light die line joins the lower two leaves.
|OC-P1 ||P1 ||PA ||LE
||Obverse: 1 is L. |
Reverse: No extensions of the vertical shield lines. The lowest horizontal shield line crosses the shield border,
barely poking into the wing feathers.
|OC-P2 ||P1 ||PB ||LE
||Obverse: 1 is L. |
Reverse: Vertical shield line 1-3 extends to horizontal line 5. The lowest horizontal shield line crosses the shield border,
but doesn’t poke into the wing feathers, and the extension is lighter than that of Reverse PA.
Obverse and reverse full photos:   1863 NGC PR69, finest known, ex. Kaufman, from the Heritage archives.