1868





General Comments

The year 1868 saw a huge increase in seated dollar mintage. However, most were apparently exported to the orient. As a result, the date is much scarcer than its high mintage would indicate. It should be considered as under-rated in all grades, although the market has done a reasonable job of recognizing the rarity of mint state examples. They consistently bring prices that are much stronger than the surrounding dates. Lower grade examples, however, seem to sell near common date prices, although a close look at auction records will show that premium quality examples, particularly pleasing coins in the XF-AU grade ranges, often bring extremely strong prices.

As with most dates from this era high grades, both proof and business strikes, are more available than lower grades, although well-circulated coins seem to be more available than for earlier dates in the 1860ís. Apparently some coins circulated despite the high export rate. Highest availability remains in the mid-VF to mid-AU grade ranges. Problem-free coins below VF are very rare. Although the population reports in low- to mid-grade mint state are somewhat large, these coins seem to be rare. Their value has been well-recognized by the market.



Mintage 162,700
Proof mintage 600
Mintage ranking 35th
Finest known MS66+
PR68 Cameo
Known obverse dies 5
1 unconfirmed
Known reverse dies 4
Known die marriages 7
1 unconfirmed
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R3-
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-2/ R4-
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P1/ R4

The finest known examples are two MS66+ coins encapsulated by PCGS. PCGS has graded one additional coin MS66. The finest NGC example is a single coin graded MS66. NGC has graded five coins MS65. PCGS shows none at that level. The total of nine coins makes this one of the rarest dates at the gem level. The population reports of both major grading services show nearly 20% of the graded coins in mint state, so in this year the balance of high vs. low grades begins to get a bit better. In the lower grades, the population reports show that less than 10% of the business strikes graded are less than VF20. Collectors seeking to assemble a G-VF set still have a problem, with fewer than 35 examples in VF20 or less to choose from. The greatest availability is in the VF-AU55 range. In general, all grades of 1868 are scarce to rare, and will generally bring prices at or above what most price guides would indicate.

In proof, the finest known example is a single PR68 cameo graded by NGC. PCGS has graded two coins at the PR67 level, one of these designated deep cameo. NGC has given 7 coins a PR67 grade, including two designated cameo, and two ultra cameo. Sixteen additional coins have received a grade of PR66, six by PCGS and ten by NGC, while 56 have been evaluated as PR65. Population statistics are as of December, 2016. As with most dates these statistics probably include several resubmissions.

1868 examples are usually well struck. Star centrals are normally sharply defined, only occasionally showing very slight weakness. All other details are normally above average. Reverses are usually sharp, infrequently displaying slight weakness on the upper left wing. Proofs often show slight weakness on the upper left wing, and occasionally on the feathers of the left leg. High-grade business strikes are often prooflike or semi-prooflike, but frosty examples can be located.

1868 Die Marriages


7 die marriages have been positively identified. Three obverse dies were combined with three reverses to strike five business strike die pairs. All reverse dies were unique to 1868. None of these dies were used for proofs. Two proof die pairs used two different obverse dies, each paired with 1866 Reverse PA, now in its third year of use. A possible sixth business strike die marriage exists, but we have been unable to confirm it. The obverse is pictured in the section describing the individual die marriages. The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1868:

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 480
OC-2 R4- 2 A 200
OC-3 R4- 2 B 180
OC-4 R3+ 3 B 230
OC-5 R3- 3 C 410
OC-? Unconfirmed4 ? Unconfirmed
OC-P1 R4 P1 1866 PA 125
OC-P2 R3+ P2 1866 PA 250
Rarity estimates updated 12/8/16

1868 Business Strike Emission Sequence

With every die marriage including die overlap with either a previous or a subsequent die marriage the emission sequence was relatively easy to determine.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-1
2 OC-2 Die cracks in late reverse states place OC-2 after OC-1
3 OC-3 Reduction in the unfinished area under the chin indicates OC-3 after OC-2
4 OC-4 Die cracks on Reverse B in its OC-4 use place OC-4 after OC-3
5 OC-5 Slight reduction in unfinished areas indicates OC-5 after OC-4

1868 Proof Emission Sequence

Both proof die marriages share the same reverse, but there was very little degradation in that reverse die. This is simply our best guess based on microscopic evaluation of the condition of Reverse 1866 PA in each die marriage.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-P1
2 OC-P2 We believe that this represents the latest state of Reverse 1866 PA, but the degradation is barely detectable, so significant uncertainty still exists.

1868 Quick Finder Chart

Attribution of 1868 die marriages is relatively easy. Date positions are similar, but most obverses display other characteristics that distinguish them. The following table lists the keys for identifying each die marriage:

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Right
Base of 1

Keys

OC-1 1 A B Obverse: 6 in denticles. Lump in drapery.
Reverse: Die line in motto from bottom of E through TR.
OC-2 2 A JR of LE Obverse: 6 in denticles, business strike MPD-001.
Reverse: Die line in motto from bottom of E through TR.
OC-3 2 B JR of LE Obverse: 6 in denticles, business strike MPD-001.
Reverse: A small lump left of the W in the motto.
OC-4 3 B JR of LE Obverse: Numerous die lines in the denticles below the 6.
Reverse: A small lump left of the W in the motto.
OC-5 3 C JR of LE Obverse: Numerous die lines in the denticles below the 6.
Reverse: Die line through upper part of M.
OC-? 4 C JL of C See individual die marriage write-up.
OC-P1 P1 1866 PA L QTR Obverse: 18 on rim, proof MPD-001.
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 1866 PA RE Obverse: Tripled 1, repunched 8's.
Reverse: A heavy horizontal die line in the motto from the top right corner of the N through the bottom of GOD.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1868 NGC PR68 Cameo, finest known, from the Heritage archives.


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