1866






General Comments

1866 begins the post-Civil War era of the seated dollar, and represents the beginning of the With Motto type. As a date 1866 is scarce, but not rare. They are more available than their Civil War predecessors, although high grades, gem and above, are still very rare. Proofs seem to be available in all grades, with numerous examples graded in PR65 or better.

1866 examples are relatively easy to locate, but patient searching may still be required to find truly problem-free coins. As with most Seated Dollars high grades, both proofs and business strikes, are more available than lower grades. The population reports show that about 30% of the business strikes currently graded as problem-free are MS60 or better. Another 35% are in various grades of AU. Problem-free examples in grades lower than XF are scarce, but generally more available than the Civil War years. They will generally bring somewhat higher prices than most price guides indicate.

The finest currently graded mint state examples are 3 coins graded MS67, two by PCGS and one by NGC. An additional six coins have received a MS66 grade. Four more have graded MS65, and 29 have received a MS64 grade. A few of these are likely re-submissions. The overall availability of mint state examples is like other dates of the era. Population statistics are as of March, 2017.


Mintage 49,625
Proof mintage 725
Mintage ranking 26th
Finest known MS67
PR69 Cameo
Known obverse dies 4
Known reverse dies 3
Known die marriages 4
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriageOC-1/ R2
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P1/ R4-
OC-P3/ R8
(no motto)
The finest currently graded proof coins are PR69 cameo. The population reports show one at PCGS and two at NGC. We suspect that these represent at most two coins. PCGS has evaluated one additional coin as PR68 cameo. At the PR67 level PCGS has graded one coin while NGC has graded seven. The population reports show 24 coins at the PR66 level and 33 at PR65. A total of 550 have been graded at all proof levels. Since we estimate that only 500 exist, this figure underscores the level of re-submissions represented in the population reports. It’s also interesting to note that a larger than normal percentage of the 1866 proofs are designated cameo. The dies were apparently carefully prepared for this first year of With Motto coinage. Population statistics are as of March, 2017.

1866 examples are usually well struck, with star centrals sharply defined and all other details above average. Reverses are almost always sharp. High-grade business strikes are sometimes prooflike or semi-prooflike, but frosty examples are equally available. Beware of mis-attributed coins. You’ll note that our example of Obverse P2 is an example that PCGS slabbed as a business strike. As noted above proofs are often cameo.

1866 Die Marriages


4 die marriages have been positively identified. A single die pair was used to strike all business strikes. Neither die was used for proofs, although many were very prooflike and have been mis-attributed as proofs. As a result, both Bowers (reference 4) and Breen (reference 7) list a third proof die pair with a repunched 1. Bowers mentions that copper patterns were issued from the same die pair. However, these patterns were struck by the business strike die pair rather than an additional pair of dies. We’ve concluded that two obverse dies were paired with two reverse dies to produce three proof die marriages. The third of these die pairs, P2-1865 PB, our die marriage OC-P3, is the historic No Motto die pair, of which only two are known. This die pair is covered in an additional chapter at the end of this section. The With Motto reverse, Reverse PA is transitional. It was used to strike proofs for 5 years, beginning in 1866 and ending in 1870. The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1866.

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

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R2 1 A 1000
OC-P1 R4- P1 PA 175
OC-P2 R3 P2 PA 325
OC-P3 R8 P2 1865 PB 2

1866 Business Strike Emission Sequence

With only a single business strike die marriage the emission sequence isn’t terribly interesting.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-1

1866 Proof Emission Sequence


Sequencing of OC-P1 and OC-P2 is based on die polishing noted on Reverse PA. The shield recesses are notably unfinished on OC-P1, but much more finished on OC-P2. OC-P1 was clearly the first die pair. To place OC-P3, the No Motto issue, into the sequence we assumed the frequently documented theory that the No Motto pieces were minted after 1866. We haven't been able to confirm this by directly examining the coins.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-P1 This is apparently the earliest reverse die state, but the differences are minute.
2 OC-P2
3 OC-P3 We assumed this position in the emission sequence based on the widely accepted assumption that these were minted at some time after 1866

1866 Quick Finder Chart


Attribution of 1866 die marriages is relatively easy. Both the obverse and reverse of the business strike die pair show some notable markers. The only challenge is differentiating the two known With Motto proofs. These share the same reverse die, but the date position of the two obverse dies is significantly different.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Right
Base of 1

Keys

OC-1 1 A C Obverse: Repunched 18. 2nd 6 is L
Reverse: Doubled die reverse, most visible on the motto.
OC-P1 P1 PA R QTR Obverse: Date grid is 4-2.0.
Reverse: A heavy horizontal die line in the motto from the top right corner of the N through the bottom of GOD.
OC-P2 P2 PA R QTR Obverse: Date grid is 5-2.0.
Reverse: A heavy horizontal die line in the motto from the top right corner of the N through the bottom of GOD.
OC-P3 P2 1865 PB JL of RE Obverse: Date grid is 5-2.0.
Reverse: No motto.


1866 No Motto

We won’t try to go over all the history of this date. That’s been covered in detail elsewhere (references 4 and 7 are suggested). For our purposes, it’s sufficient to say that the 1866 No Motto dollar is the rarest coin in the series, with only two examples known. One now resides in a Texas collection. The second, the famous DuPont coin, is in the ANA Money Museum.

Consistent with our approach throughout this reference we’ve tried to let the dies tell the story of these coins. Unfortunately, in this case we haven’t had the opportunity to carefully examine an example. We hope to change this in the future by examining the coin in the ANA Money Museum, but for the time being our conclusions are based on pictures provided by Stacks-Bowers.

We’ve identified the No Motto die marriage as OC-P3. We’ve reviewed relatively high-resolution pictures of both the obverse and the reverse, those provided by Stacks-Bowers. Based on the position of the date we believe that the obverse die is our Obverse P2, which was also used to strike the 1866 OC-P2 die marriage, a With Motto type. The reverse die appears to be 1865 PB. The only other appearance of this die is in the 1865 OC-P1 die marriage, an extremely rare marriage, with only four examples confirmed. This die displays no notable markers, so there’s a significant level of uncertainty in our attribution. Eliminating the uncertainty would require examination of the two coins together with the aid of a microscope or high magnification. With only four examples of 1865 OC-P1 known, and only two examples of the 1866 No Motto, this is highly unlikely, so for now we’ll have to rely on our photo observations.

Since the literature seems to agree that the No Motto coins were struck at some point later than 1866 we’ve placed it in the emission sequence after the With Motto die marriages. Again, we’d love to confirm this in the future by examining the 1866 No Motto dollar together with an example of 1866 OC-P2, but for now we’ll just make the assumption.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1866 NGC PR67 Cameo, from the Heritage archives.


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