General Comments

In 1864 silver dollar mintage continued the recovery that began in 1863. Over 30,000 coins were minted. This date is like 1861, 1862, and 1863. Itís very popular with collectors due to both low mintage and its status as a Civil War date. However, we note a little more availability than those earlier Civil War dates. 1864 coins are scarce, but not so much so as the three previous Civil War issues. The exception is high-grade examples. In mint state this date is tied with 1865 as the rarest of the Civil War dates. Most price guides recognize the additional availability in the lower grades. When offered, nice examples usually sell near the prices listed. In mint state grades, itís a different story. Mint state coins of 1864 and 1865 should be priced higher than the other Civil War dates, with the availability being about half. In most cases, all the Civil War dates are listed in the same price range. We believe that this date is still slightly underpriced in circulated grades, and significantly underpriced in mint state. Donít underestimate the influence of the demand created by Civil War collectors.

Nice examples can be located, but patient searching is required. As with most dates from this era high grades, both proof and business strikes, are more available than lower grades. However, 1864 coins are much more available in lower grades than their Civil War predecessors. The population reports show that more than half of the business strikes currently in holders are less than AU50, whereas for the previous years this number is around 25%. Problem-free examples in grades lower than XF are still very scarce, and will generally bring prices at or above what most price guides would indicate.

Mintage 31,170
Proof mintage 470
Mintage ranking 20th
Finest known MS66
Known obverse dies 4
Known reverse dies 3
Known die marriages 5
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-1/ R2
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P3/ R6-
Conversely, as noted above, high-grade examples of the date are scarcer than might be assumed. Only 54 coins have received a mint state grade. Compare this to the previous Civil War years. Reports show mint state populations of 106, 124, and 107 coins for 1861, 1862, and 1863 respectively. 1864 is unexpectedly rare in mint state! The finest known business strike is a single MS66 example graded by PCGS. 16 coins have been graded MS65, 9 at PCGS and 7 at NGC. Three of the PCGS coins were evaluated as MS65+. Another 15 coins have received a MS64 grade. As with all dates several of the coins noted above surely represent re-submissions. Population statistics are as of February, 2019.

The finest known proofs are three PR68 coins graded by NGC. The highest proof graded by PCGS is a single PR67 example. NGC has graded two coins at this level. 14 coins have received a PR66 grade. One PCGS coin was evaluated as PR66+. 43 have been designated PR65. A total of 405 coins have been graded at all levels of proof by the two major services. This number places 1864 proofs in a consistent pattern with earlier dates after 1858. It also underscores the problem of re-submissions reported in the grading service population reports. We estimate that only a total of 300 1864 proofs survive. Population statistics are as of February, 2019.

1864 examples are usually well struck. Star centrals are usually sharply defined, and all other details above average. Reverses are almost always sharp, only occasionally displaying slight weakness on the upper left wing. High-grade business strikes are often prooflike or semi-prooflike, but frosty examples are equally available. In reviewing auction records we noted two different business strike examples in proof holders, one of them graded PR63.

1864 Die Marriages

5 die marriages have been positively identified. A single die pair was used to strike all business strikes. Neither die was used for proofs. Three different obverse dies were paired with two different reverses, both carried over from the 1863 proof production, to produce four proof die marriages. The following table summarizes the known die marriages:

Click the links below to view the details of each die marriage.

Die Marriage
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R2 1 A 600
OC-P1 R4 P1 1863 PA 150
OC-P2 R4+ P2 1863 PA 110
OC-P3 R6- P3 1863 PB 25
OC-P4 R5- P1 1863 PB 65

We should note that a fourth obverse die was available for proof production. It was used to strike the with motto patterns (J-396, J-397, J-398, and J-399). To date we havenít confirmed the use of this die for regular issue 1864 proof production. The reverse die used for these patterns was our Reverse 1871 PA, indicating that they were probably struck in the 1870-1871 timeframe.

1864 Business Strike Emission Sequence

With only a single business strike die marriage the emission sequence is simple.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
1 OC-1

1864 Proof Emission Sequence

We believe that the extent of die polish on Obverse P1 and Reverses 1863 PA and 1863 PB indicates that the sequence listed below is correct (with the exceptions noted). However, the differences are minute, and open to interpretation. OC-P4 is a recently discovered die marriage. As a result it appears to be out of order in the emission sequence.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
1 OC-P1
2 OC-P4 Obverse P1 die polish slightly reduced the unfinished area under the chin
3 OC-P2 Sequencing of OC-P2, OC-P3, and OC-P4 is partially subjective. We know that OC-P2 and OC-P4 came after OC-P1, and that OC-P3 came after OC-P4. Placement of OC-P2 and OC-P4 in positions 2 and 3 is arbitrary. The positions could be reversed.
4 OC-P3

1864 Quick Finder Chart

Attribution of 1864 die marriages is relatively easy. Neither the obverse nor reverse dies display major markers, but the obverse date positions are different enough to allow attribution of the obverse without worrying too much about the reverse. Only OC-P1 and OC-P4 share an obverse die. Minor reverse die markers allow easy identification of those two die marriages. The following table lists the keys for identifying each variety.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Base of 1


OC-1 1 A JL of C Obverse: RB of 1 is JL of C. Very high date.
Reverse: Vertical lines 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3 extend very faintly to horizontal line 2.
OC-P1 P1 1863 PA JL of RE Obverse: Centered date slants S down. Base of 1 is JL of RE.
1 lines up 5-4.0.
Reverse: No extensions of the vertical shield lines. The lowest horizontal shield line crosses the shield border, barely poking into the wing feathers. Dies usually but not always rotated 5-15 degrees counterclockwise.
OC-P2 P2 1863 PA L QTR Obverse: Slightly high date slants down. Base of 1 is JL of RE.
1 lines up 5-1.5.
Reverse: No extensions of the vertical shield lines. The lowest horizontal shield line crosses the shield border, barely poking into the wing feathers.
OC-P3 P3 1863 PB JL of C Obverse: Low level date. Base of 1 is JL of C. 1 lines up 4-2.5.
Reverse: Vertical shield line 1-3 extends to horizontal line 5.
OC-P4 P1 1863 PB JL of RE Obverse: Centered date slants S down. Base of 1 is JL of RE.
1 lines up 5-4.0.
Reverse: Vertical shield line 1-3 extends to horizontal line 5.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1864 NGC PR68, finest known, from the Heritage archives.

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