1870






General Comments


The year 1870 saw a continuation of the era of ultra-high mintages. As opposed to the situation with 1869 issues, 1870 coins seem to be as readily available as the mintage would indicate. 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 observations of ready availability in all grades. Even low grades, which are scarce or rare for virtually all 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 more available for this date than for most others. Highest availability remains in the mid-VF to mid-AU grade ranges. Problem-free coins below VF are scarce. 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.

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. They’ve graded three additional coins MS65. Two of these are MS65+. NGC has graded four at that level. PCGS has graded 17 coins at the MS64 level while NGC has graded 16. Population statistics are as of November, 2016. As with most dates the population reports surely include at least a few re-submissions.





Mintage 416,000
Proof mintage 1000
Mintage ranking 43rd
Finest known MS66
PR67
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 only about 5% of the business strikes graded are less than VF20. Collectors seeking 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 1870 are available and will bring prices consistent with what most 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 five. Two of those received a star designation. At the PR66 level PCGS has graded seven coins, with one receiving a Cameo designation and one Deep Cameo. NGC has graded five. Two of those received a star designation. At the PR65 level PCGS has graded 33 examples while NGC has graded 13. Proof population statistics are as of November, 2016. This 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. We’ve seen at least one business strike incorrectly slabbed as proof. This doesn’t seem to be as common as it is for coins dated 1869. Many proofs show strike weakness on the eagle feathers. It’s actually difficult to find a well-struck proof.

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 ten business strike die pairs. All business strike dies were unique to 1870. One obverse die was also used to strike proofs. It should be noted that two of the die marriages are very rare, currently rated R6. Another is rated as R5+. We’ve seen each of the R6 die marriages only as a single middle-grade example in the Heritage archives. We’ve 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 isn’t a second example to confirm the attribution. We’ve chosen to include these two die marriages (OC-8 and OC-10) in hopes 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. Note that OC-10 pairs the proof obverse with Reverse A, making it one of the exceptions to our observation that proof dies were seldom used to strike business strikes.

Three proof die pairs shared the same obverse die, our obverse 1870 P1. The first die marriage paired it with 1869 Reverse PA, now in its second year of use. The second die marriage paired it with a new reverse die unique to 1870, Reverse 1870 PA. We 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 die marriage paired it 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:

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

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R5+ 1 A 40
OC-2 R3- 2 A 450
OC-3 R2 3 A 1175
OC-4 R3- 4 A 450
OC-5 R3+ 5 A 250
OC-6 R2 5 B 720
OC-7 R3+ 6 C 225
OC-8 R6 6 A 20
OC-9 R4 7 A 150
OC-10 R6 P1 A 20
OC-P1 R3- P1 1869 PA 450
OC-P2 R4+ P1 PA 100
OC-P3 R5 P1 1866 PA 50
Rarity estimates updated 11/28/16

1870 Business Strike Emission Sequence


Progressive die cracking allowed rather easy determination of the emission sequence for the numerous die marriages which used Reverse A. The placement of OC-7 is somewhat arbitrary. We only know that it came after OC-8. There is significant uncertainty in the placement of OC-8 and OC-10 since we’ve seen only pictures of one mid-grade example of each.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-8 The only example seen has a perfect reverse.
2 OC-1 Reverse A clashing places OC-1 after OC-8.
3 OC-2 Reverse A clashing places OC-2 after OC-1.
4 OC-3 Reverse A die cracks place OC-3 after OC-2.
5 OC-4 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-4 after OC-3.
6 OC-5 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-5 after OC-4.
7 OC-6 Reduction in unfinished areas due to die polishing places OC-6 after OC-5.
8 OC-9 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-9 after OC-6.
9 OC-10 Progressive reverse A die cracks place OC-10 after OC-9.
10 OC-7 Placement of OC-7 in the emission sequence is somewhat 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 R QTR 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: Large lump between legs.
Reverse: A strong die line connects leaves 1 and 2.
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.
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 JL of C Obverse: Lumps under chin. A large lump in gown just left of pole.
Reverse: Curving die lines in motto - in first fold, 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 PA LE Obverse: A curved die line off the left end of the ribbon.
Reverse: Largely unfinished around the leaves.
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, by Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing, All rights reserved.