1870






General Comments


The year 1870 saw a continuation of the era of ultra-high mintages. However, 1870 coins are as readily available as the mintage would indicate, while 1869 and earlier years are not. Most price guides price the 1870 as a common date, similar to 1871 and 1872, the two highest mintage dates in the series. This is consistent with our observation of ready availability in all grades. Even low grades, which are scarce or rare for many dates, are available with patient searching.

As with most dates from the Seated Dollar series high grades are more available than lower grades, although as noted above well-circulated coins seem to be easier to locate for this date than for most earlier dates. Highest availability remains in the mid-VF to mid-AU grade ranges. Problem-free coins below VF are scarce. Low- to mid-grade mint state coins are easy to find. Mint state examples are frequently seen at coin shows and in auctions. As with all Liberty Seated Dollar dates very choice to gem coins, MS64 or better, are rare and seldom seen.

The population reports of both major grading services show about 25% of the graded coins in mint state. The finest known business strikes are two MS66 coins graded by PCGS. Theyve graded five additional coins MS65, two of them MS65+. NGC has graded four coins MS65. PCGS has graded 20 coins at the MS64 level, while NGC has graded 13. Population statistics are as of September, 2022. The population reports almost certainly include numerous re-submissions.





Mintage 416,000
Proof mintage 1000
Mintage ranking 43rd
Finest known MS66
PR67 Cameo
Known obverse dies 8
Known reverse dies 6
Known die marriages 13
Most common die marriage OC-3/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-8/ R6+
OC-10/ R6+
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P3/ R5+
In the lower grades, the population reports show about 7% of the business strikes graded VF20 or lower. This seems low, but with the higher mintage and high population its better than previous years. Collectors seeking a certified set in VF20 or less still have fewer than 60 examples to choose from. The greatest availability is in the VF25-AU55 range. In general, all grades of 1870 can be found with patient searching, and will bring prices consistent with what the more accurate price guides would indicate.

In proof, the finest known examples are PR67. PCGS has graded two at that level, with one designated as Cameo. NGC has graded three, two cameo and one ultra-cameo. At the PR66 level PCGS has graded eight coins, with one receiving a Cameo designation and two Deep Cameo. NGC has graded 16. Four of those were evaluated as cameo, one ultra-cameo. At the PR65 level PCGS has graded 36 examples while NGC has graded 27. Proof population statistics are as of September, 2022. 1870 is one of the most available years in proof.

1870 examples are often weakly struck. Several die marriages usually exhibit weak stars and sometimes weak hair detail. Reverses are usually sharp except for slight softness on the lower portions of the horizontal shield lines. High-grade business strikes are sometimes prooflike or semi-prooflike, but just as often frosty. Weve seen four business strikes incorrectly slabbed as proofs by the major grading services. This doesnt seem to be as common as it is for coins dated 1869. Many proofs show strike weakness on the eagle feathers. Its a challenge to find one well-struck.

1870 Die Marriages

13 die marriages have been positively identified, one of the larger yearly totals for the series. Seven obverse dies were combined with four reverses to create 10 business strike die pairs. All business strike dies were unique to 1870. It should be noted that two of the business strike die marriages are very rare, currently rated R6+. Another is rated as R5+. Weve seen each of the R6+ die marriages only as a single middle-grade example in the Heritage archives. We found no additional examples in our updated review of the archives in September, 2022. Weve not been able to personally examine either of these coins. Any time a die is identified solely from a picture there can be some degree of uncertainty, particularly when there isnt a second example to confirm the attribution. However, we have high confidence in the attribution of these two coins. The dies involved have markers that are easy to see, even on a picture. Weve chosen to include them in our listings (OC-8 and OC-10), even though our attribution relied on only a single picture of a middle-grade coin. We hope that other collectors will be able to find examples to confirm the attribution and refine the descriptions. Please report any such findings to the authors. Also, if any collector reading this volume owns one of the two coins wed be grateful to have the opportunity to personally examine it. The OC-8 example was auctioned by Heritage June 1, 2008. The coin resides in an NCS holder, #5200818-005, graded VF/ reverse graffiti. The OC-10 example was auctioned, also by Heritage, on February 2, 2004. The coin resides in an ANACS holder, #2575727, graded AU/ cleaned, net XF40.

Note that OC-10 pairs obverse P1 with Reverse A in a business strike pairing, making it one of a small number of exceptions to our observation that proof dies were seldom used to strike business strikes.

In addition to the 10 known business strike die marriages weve discovered two re-marriages. Dies 3-A and 4-A were each paired twice during the year at different times. These re-marriages are noted in our discussion of the emission sequence. These are currently among a very small number of documented re-marriages in the Liberty Seated dollar series.

Three proof die pairs shared the same obverse die, our obverse P1. The first die marriage paired it with 1869 Reverse PA, now in its second year of use. The second die marriage also paired it with an 1869 reverse, Reverse 1869 PB. The use of this reverse in 1869 was discovered recently, well after the publication of the 1st Edition, so it was not known at that time that the die was transitional, and it was identified as 1870 Reverse PA. In this second edition Ive changed the nomenclature to identify the die as 1869 Reverse PB to recognize its transitional use. 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 third 1869 proof die marriage paired Obverse P1 with Reverse 1866 PA, now in its fifth year of use. The third die marriage is rare, currently rated R5+.

The following table summarizes the known 1870 die marriages. Note that the two noted re-marriages were discovered in 2022, well after the publication of the first release of our book.

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

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R5+ 1 A 40
OC-2 R3 2 A 375
OC-3 R2 3 A 1200
OC-3a R5- 3 A 80
OC-4 R4+ 4 A 105
OC-4a R3+ 4 A 265
OC-5 R3+ 5 A 240
OC-6 R2 5 B 790
OC-7 R3+ 6 C 225
OC-8 R6+ 6 A 15
OC-9 R4- 7 A 175
OC-10 R6+ P1 A 15
OC-P1 R3- P1 1869 PA 460
OC-P2 R4+ P1 1869 PB 100
OC-P3 R5+ P1 1866 PA 40

1870 Business Strike Emission Sequence


Progressive die cracking allowed determination of the emission sequence for the numerous die marriages which used Reverse A. The exceptions are OC-1. OC-2. And OC-8. All examples seen exhibit the same reverse die state, so the placement relies on estimating the extent of reverse die polishing. There is some uncertainty in the placement of OC-8 and OC-10 since weve seen only pictures of one mid-grade example of each.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-4 All examples seen have a perfect reverse.
2 OC-1 All examples seen have a lightly clashed reverse, but no die cracks. OC-1 was placed in the 2nd position by estimating the extent of reverse die polishing.
3 OC-2 All examples seen have a lightly clashed reverse, but no die cracks. OC-2 was placed in the 3rd position by estimating the extent of reverse die polishing.
4 OC-8 The only example seen has a lightly clashed reverse, but no die cracks. OC-8 was placed in the 4th position by estimating the extent of reverse die polishing.
5 OC-3 Reverse A die cracks place OC-3 after OC-1, 2, and 8.
6 OC-9 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-9 after OC-3.
7 OC-10 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-10 after OC-9.
8 OC-4a This re-marriage is identified by Reverse A die cracks that have advanced beyond those noted on OC-10.
9 OC-5 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-5 after OC-4a.
10 OC-6 Reductions in unfinished areas of the obverse die due to die polishing place OC-6 after OC-5.
11 OC-3a OC-3a has only been seen exhibiting the latest die state of Reverse A.
12 OC-7 Placement of OC-7 is arbitrary. We know only that it came after OC-8 due to obverse die wear.

1870 Proof Emission Sequence


Die polishing allowed determination of the proof emission sequence, although the differences are minute, so our results are open to interpretation.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-P1
2 OC-P2 Obverse P1 die polishing places OC-P2 after OC-P1
3 OC-P3 Obverse P1 die polishing places OC-P3 after OC-P2

1870 Quick Finder Chart


Attribution of 1870 die marriages is relatively easy, although lower grade coins may prove to be difficult. 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 JL of RE Obverse: Date is slightly low. 1 = 5-1.0.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
OC-2 2 A RE Obverse: Die lines and rust in gown left of pole base.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
OC-3 3 A JR of C Obverse: Small lump between legs, left of pole base.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2. The reverse die is state b, c, or d.
OC-3a 3 A JR of C Obverse: The lump between legs is now huge.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2. The reverse is state f.
OC-4 4 A B Obverse: Lump at left of unfinished area under the chin. 1 = 4-3.5.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2. The reverse die is state a.
OC-4a 4 A B Obverse: Lump at left of the unfinished area under the chin. 1 = 4-3.5.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2. The reverse die is state f.
OC-5 5 A R QTR Obverse: Date slightly low. Farthest left of any date for the year. 1 = 4-2.0.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
OC-6 5 B R QTR Obverse: Date slightly low. Farthest left of any date for the year. 1 = 4-2.0
Reverse: Die lines in motto - through US, along the left side of the shaft of the 2nd T in TRUST.
OC-7 6 C JR of C Obverse: Lumps under chin. A large lump in gown just left of pole.
Reverse: Curving die lines in motto - in first fold and off left side of R.
OC-8 6 A JR of C Obverse: Lumps under chin. A large lump in gown just left of pole.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
OC-9 7 A B Obverse: Farthest right of any date for the year. 1 = 5-3.5.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
OC-10 P1 A LE Obverse: A curved die line off the left end of the ribbon.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
OC-P1 P1 1869 PA LE Obverse: A curved die line off the left end of the ribbon.
Reverse: Very minor doubled die. 80% finished around the leaves.
OC-P2 P1 1869 PB LE Obverse: A curved die line off the left end of the ribbon.
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.
OC-P3 P1 1866 PA LE Obverse: A curved die line off the left end of the ribbon.
Reverse: Die line from top right corner of N through bottom of GOD.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1870 NGC PR67 Ultra Cameo, finest known proof, from the Heritage archives.


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