General Comments

1870-S is the key date in the Liberty Seated Dollar series. Most collectors with average or even above average resources can never hope to own one. The mintage is unknown. No mint records have been found to confirm the number issued. Nine pieces have been confirmed. A tenth probably exists, and an eleventh is rumored to be in the lost cornerstone of the San Francisco mint. Assuming a mintage of at least 10 coins and certainly at most 25 or 30, the date ranks first or second in the Liberty Seated Dollar series, depending on whether the 1866 NO MOTTO is considered.

Mintage Unknown
Proof mintage None
Mintage ranking 2nd
Finest known MS62
Known obverse dies 1
Known reverse dies 1
Known die marriages 1
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R7-
Rarest die marriage OC-1/ R7-

The finest known example is a PCGS MS62 that currently resides in the Legend Collection, now owned by Dell Loy Hansen. The known examples are listed below (reference 19).

James A. Stack Specimen, PCGS MS62
Norweb Specimen, PCGS AU58
Eliasberg Specimen, PCGS AU53
Ostheimer-Gardner Specimen, PCGS XF40
Quellar Specimen, NGC XF40
Schultz Specimen, PCGS VF25
Carter Specimen, VF
Eureka Specimen, F/VF scratched
Boyd Specimen, PCGS VF, tooled to remove initials

1870-S Die Marriages

A single die pair was used to strike all currently known 1870-S examples. The obverse die was one previously used in Carson City to strike 1870-CC die marriage OC-1. The mint had not provided obverse dies dated 1870 to San Francisco, so this obverse die was shipped from Carson City prior to the ceremony laying the symbolic cornerstone for the new San Francisco mint. The ceremony was held on May 25, 1870. The discovery this re-use of the 1870-CC obverse die was documented by the authors in an article in Issue #128 of the Gobrecht Journal, published in the spring of 2017 (reference 21).

The obverse die was polished prior to its use in San Francisco. Many of the die markers noted in our description of its use at Carson City were removed by the polishing. However, enough remained to make a positive identification. The findings that led to this conclusion were documented in our article in Issue #128 of the Gobrecht Journal, published in the spring of 2017 (reference 21). To our knowledge this is the only known example of a die being used at two different mints. The reverse die is unique to 1870-S. We have not found it in any other years. Some publications have speculated that the mintmark was engraved in the die. Our findings indicate that it was not only punched, but actually double-punched. This is discussed more in the next section.

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

Die Marriage
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R7- 1870-CC 1 A 9-11

Photo credits:

All 1870-S photos:   1870-S PCGS XF40, ex. Gene Gardner, from the Heritage archives.

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