1869






General Comments


The year 1869 saw another huge increase in Seated dollar mintage, and began a short-lived era of ultra-high mintages, at least by Liberty Seated dollar standards. The current availability tells a completely different story, as this date is at least scarce. The reasons for this paradox are still debated. Some claim that many were sent to the orient. Others say they just never left the government vaults. Iíll steer clear of that debate. Whatever the reason, the date is much scarcer than its high mintage would indicate. In most price guides, it prices barely above the 1871 and 1872, the two highest mintage dates in the series. It should be considered as under-rated in all grades. All grades are more available than earlier dates in the 1860ís, but not enough so to merit a common date price.

As with most dates from the Seated dollar series high grades are more available than lower grades, although well-circulated coins seem to be more common for this date than for earlier dates in the 1860ís. Apparently, some coins circulated despite the disappearance of most of the issue. Highest availability remains in the mid-VF to mid-AU grade ranges. Problem-free coins below VF are rare. The somewhat large population reports in low- to mid-grade mint state seem to be accurate. Mint state examples are frequently seen at coin shows and in auctions.


Mintage 424,300
Proof mintage 600
Mintage ranking 44th
Finest known MS66+
PR67 Deep Cameo
Known obverse dies 11
Known reverse dies 5
Known die marriages 14
Most common die marriage OC-2/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-7/ R5
OC-9/ R5-
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P5/R7+
The population reports of the major grading services show that over 22% of the graded coins are mint state. The finest known example is a single MS66+ coin graded by PCGS. PCGS has graded one additional coin MS66. Five coins have received a MS65 grade, two at PCGS and three at NGC. An additional 16 pieces have been graded MS64. In the lower grades, the population reports show that only 8% of the business strikes graded are below VF20. Collectors seeking to assemble a certified G-VF set have fewer than 40 examples to choose from. The greatest availability is in the VF-AU55 range. In general, all grades of 1869 are scarce, and will usually bring prices at or above what most price guides indicate. As with most dates the population reports surely include a significant number of re-submissions. Population statistics are as of September, 2023.

In proof, the finest graded examples are eleven coins that have been given a PR67 grade, two by PCGS and nine by NGC. One PCGS coin is designated deep cameo. Three NGC coins are designated cameo and one ultra cameo. Itís likely that the NGC grading records represent at most 4 or 5 different coins, with one or more individuals trying to get their coin into the finest known category. PCGS has given fourteen coins a grade of PR66, with two of these receiving a cameo designation and four deep cameo. NGC has evaluated nineteen as PR66, including five designated cameo and three ultra cameo. A total of 55 coins have received a PR65 grade. Over 500 coins have been graded at all levels of proof. In my opinion, the statistics for this date probably include many re-submissions, possibly more than any date in the series. Iíve also noted numerous early business strikes mis-attributed as proofs by the grading services, further inflating the proof population numbers. Proof population statistics are as of September, 2023.

1869 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 except for slight softness on the upper left wing, which seems to be more normal for this year than for most others. High-grade business strikes are often prooflike or semi-prooflike, but frosty examples can be located. Several die marriages are particularly noted for displaying prooflike surfaces. Iíve seen several of these mis-attributed as proofs by major grading services. The business strike die marriage that Iíve most often encountered in a proof holder is my die marriage OC-2. The OC-2 obverse die was first used to strike proof die marriage OC-P4, then brought back into service to strike the OC-2 business strike die marriage. As a result, many early-state OC-2 examples exhibit highly prooflike surfaces. The OC-2 dies were also polished at least once during their use. Strongly prooflike surfaces are the rule rather than the exception for this die marriage.

Those familiar with the first edition of this book will note that an additional die marriage has been added to the 1869 listings. OC-P5 was discovered during my research for the 2nd Edition. It pairs the previously known obverse P1 with newly discovered reverse PB. Only two examples have been identified. The first, PCGS PR65, was sold by Heritage as lot #5171 in an auction on April 19, 2012. The second, PCGS PR64, was also sold by Heritage, as lot #4053 in an auction on August 16, 2019. I had reviewed pictures of the first coin while preparing the 1st Edition, but failed to note the minor differences between reverses PA and PB. See the write-ups on the details of the 1869 proof die marriages for complete details on the diagnostics which differentiate the two dies.

After confirming the new die I also determined that it was transitional to 1870. The die previously identified as 1870 Reverse PA is the same die. The identifier for that die has been changed to 1869 Reverse PB to reflect itís initial use in 1869.

1869 Die Marriages


14 die marriages have been positively identified, one of the larger yearly totals for the series. The large number of die marriages is an indication that the mintage of nearly 425,000 coins is accurate, even though the scarcity of the date would indicate a smaller mintage.

Nine obverse dies were combined with only two reverses to strike nine business strike die pairs. All dies were unique to 1869. One of the obverse dies was used to strike proofs prior to being used for business strikes.

Five proof die pairs used three different obverse dies. The first paired an obverse used only for proofs, Obverse P1, with 1866 Reverse PA, now in its fourth year of use. A second marriage paired the obverse that was later used for business strikes, Obverse P3, with a new reverse die, Reverse PA, used only for proofs. Reverse PA was paired with two additional proof-only obverse dies, Obverses P1 and P2, to produce two more proof die marriages. Reverse PA was used again in 1870 to strike one proof die marriage, 1870 OC-P1. The fifth proof die marriage, newly discovered since the publication of the 1st Edition, pairs Obverse P1 with a new reverse, PB. Reverse PB was also transitional to 1870, used to strike 1870 OC-P2. Note that this die was also used to strike several patterns dated 1870 and 1871. A more notable usage was the striking of the 1863 WITH MOTTO fantasy pieces, Judd-345, Judd-346, and Judd-347.The table below summarizes the known die marriages for 1869.

Note that there is no Obverse 2. After our website went live on-line we discovered that Obverse 2 and Obverse P3 were the same. Since the first usage was in the proof pairing we retained Obverse P3 as the identifier and eliminated the use of Obverse 2.

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

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R4 1 A 140
OC-2 R2 P3 A 850
OC-3 R3+ 3 A 250
OC-4 R4+ 4 B 85
OC-5 R3+ 5 B 250
OC-6 R5 6 B 60
OC-7 R4 7 B 140
OC-8 R4 8 B 150
OC-9 R5- 9 B 75
OC-P1 R5+ P1 1866 PA 45
OC-P2 R4- P1 PA 175
OC-P3 R4 P2 PA 160
OC-P4 R5- P3 PA 65
OC-P5 R7+ P1 PB 5


1869 Business Strike Emission Sequence

With only two reverse dies used, and each cracking progressively as its usage continued, it was relatively easy to determine the business strike emission sequence. The only assumption required was the placement of OC-4, which shared no dies with three Reverse A die marriages. Prior to the publication of the 1st Edition of my book, when by web site went live, I chose to place it after OC-3, and numbered the die marriages accordingly. I later discovered that Obverse 3 was the same as Obverse P3. This discovery made it far more likely that die marriages which used Reverse A were struck after those that used Reverse B, since the use of Obverse P3 to strike proofs came relatively late in the proof emission sequence. For this reason Iíve changed my estimate of the business strike emission sequence accordingly.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-4 Placement of OC-4 is arbitrary relative to OC-1 through OC-3 since no dies were shared. I assumed that the OC-4 through OC-9 sequence came before OC-2 since that die marriage used an obverse die that was previously used to strike the proof die marriage OC-P4, which is next to last in the proof emission sequence.
2 OC-5 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-5 after OC-4
3 OC-6 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-6 after OC-5
4 OC-7 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-7 after OC-6
5 OC-8 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-8 after OC-7
6 OC-9 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-9 after OC-8
7 OC-1 I assumed that the OC-1 through OC-3 sequence came after the OC-4 through OC-9 sequence since OC-2 used an obverse die that was first used to strike proof die marriage OC-P4, which was late in the proof emission sequence.
8 OC-2 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-2 after OC-1
9 OC-3 Progressive reverse die cracks place OC-3 after OC-2


1869 Proof Emission Sequence

The proof emission sequence was determined by evaluating the extent of die polish displayed by the shared dies. Differences are microscopic, so some uncertainty remains in the results of this evaluation. I assumed that the die marriage which included the reverse transitioned from 1866, OC-P1, was first in the sequence. The placement of OC-P5 relative to OC-P3 is arbitrary since I know only that it came after OC-P2.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-P1 We assume that the die marriage which used the common reverse die for 1866 through 1870 was the first for the year.
2 OC-P4 Slightly larger unfinished areas on Reverse PA indicate that OC-P4 preceded OC-P2
3 OC-P2 Slightly smaller unfinished areas on Obverse P1 indicate that OC-P2 followed OC-P1. Slightly smaller unfinished areas on Reverse PA indicate that OC-P2 followed OC-P4
4 OC-P3 Slightly smaller unfinished areas on Reverse PA indicate that OC-P3 followed OC-P2
5 OC-P5 Slightly smaller unfinished areas on Obverse P1 indicate that OC-P5 followed OC-P3. Its placement at the end of the sequence rather than after OC-P2 is arbitrary


1869 Quick Finder Chart

Attribution of 1868 die marriages is relatively easy. Date positions are similar, but most obverses display other characteristics that distinguish them from other dies for the year. 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 LE Obverse: Doubled die obverse. Repunched 1.
Reverse: Doubled die, most visible on the motto. Minor doubling on the G in GOD.
OC-2 P3 A R QTR Obverse: 6 in denticles, MPD-001. Repunched 1. Lumps in the field below the center of the 1. These lumps are very weak on this 3rd use of Obverse P3.
Reverse: Doubled die, most visible on the motto. Minor doubling on the G in GOD.
OC-3 3 A JR of LE Obverse: Misplaced 1. Serif visible between 18
Reverse: Doubled die, most visible on the motto. Minor doubling on the G in GOD.
OC-4 4 B JR of C Obverse: RB of 1 R QTR. No notable markers.
Reverse: Small die chip in the eagle's mouth.
OC-5 5 B RE Obverse: Misplaced 186 in denticles.
Reverse: Small die chip in the eagle's mouth.
OC-6 6 B RE Obverse: Doubled die obverse.
Reverse: Small die chip in the eagle's mouth.
OC-7 7 B RE Obverse: Minor repunched date. Large lump in the skirt above the left side of the 6.
Reverse: Small die chip in the eagle's mouth.
OC-8 8 B JL of RE Obverse: Lumps in the unfinished area under the chin.
Reverse: Small die chip in the eagle's mouth.
OC-9 9 B R QTR Obverse: Die line from shield edge into skirt at base of shield line 5-2.
Reverse: Small die chip in the eagle's mouth.
OC-P1 P1 1866 PA B Obverse: Lump on Liberty's neck below the ear lobe.
Reverse: A heavy horizontal die line in the motto from the top right corner of the N through the bottom of GOD.
OC-P2 P1 PA B Obverse: Lump on Liberty's neck below the ear lobe.
Reverse: Doubled die, most visible on the left side of the motto. NO doubling on the G in GOD.
OC-P3 P2 PA RE Obverse: Die line in denticles below 89
Reverse: Doubled die, most visible on the left side of the motto. NO doubling on the G in GOD.
OC-P4 P3 PA R QTR Obverse: 6 in denticles, MPD-001. Repunched 1.
Reverse: Doubled die, most visible on the left side of the motto. NO doubling on the G in GOD.
OC-P5 P1 PB B Obverse: Lump on Liberty's neck below the ear lobe.
Reverse: Largely unfinished between the leaves. No doubling on IN in the motto. Minor doubling on the top of WE. Several tiny marks around TRU.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1869 NGC PR67 Cameo, finest known proof, from the Heritage archives.


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