1871






General Comments


1871 saw a continuation of the era of ultra-high mintages. In fact, this is one of only two years in the series with a mintage over 1 million coins, the other being 1872. 1871 coins are as readily available as the mintage would indicate. All price guides price the 1871 as a common date. 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, up to MS64, are readily available. However, well-circulated coins are far 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, but much more available than for most other years. The somewhat large population reports in low- to mid-grade mint state seen to be accurate. Mint state examples are frequently seen at coin shows and in auctions. The nearly 2000 coins graded by the two major services confirm that this is one of the most common dates in the series.

Mintage 1,074,760
Proof mintage 960
Mintage ranking 46th
Finest known MS66
PR67
Known obverse dies 14
Known reverse dies 7
Known die marriages 16
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-3/ R5+
OC-14/ R5+
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P2/ R5-
The population reports of both major grading services show a little less than 20% of the graded coins in mint state. The finest known examples are two MS66 coins, one graded by PCGS and one by NGC. Eleven coins have received a MS65 grade, six from PCGS and five from NGC. These figures put this date at a consistent level with many others when the collector evaluates the availability in gem mint state. It’s at the lower mint state level that the availability changes. Nearly 350 coins have received mint state grades from MS60 to MS64. As with most dates the population reports surely include at least a few re-submissions.

In the lower grades the population reports show about 20% of the business strikes graded are less than VF35. This is a big jump from most other dates, particularly when one considers that a total of more than 1,800 coins have been graded for this date, the most for any date except 1860-O (around 2,200). As usual the greatest availability is in the VF-AU55 range. In general all grades of 1871 short of the gem designation are readily available and will bring prices consistent with what most price guides would indicate. Population statistics are as of October, 2016.

In proof the finest known examples are three PR67 coins, one graded by PCGS, two by NGC. PCGS has graded one at the PR66 level (PR66+) while NGC has graded 10. Over 30 coins have received a PR65 grade, and nearly 400 have been graded at all levels of proof. Proof population statistics are as of October, 2016.

1871 examples often display slight softness on the star centrals, less often on the upper left wing feathers and the eagle’s neck feathers. The obverse strikes seem to improve as the emission sequence progresses. An exception is the OC-5 die marriage, which usually exhibits LIBERTY and shield details that are weaker than expected for the grade. Well struck examples can be found and usually turn out to be one of the later issues. High-grade business strikes are sometimes prooflike or semi-prooflike, but more often frosty. With a mintage of over one million the dies wore sufficiently to eliminate prooflike surfaces for most examples. But examples are available for those who love prooflike surfaces. We’ve seen several business strikes erroneously identified as proofs by the grading services. Conversely, we've seen quite a few proofs in business strike holders. However, most of these have been impaired or lightly circulated examples.

1871 Die Marriages


16 die marriages have been positively identified, the most for any year in the series. 12 obverse dies were paired with 5 reverse dies to strike all business strikes. Several of the business strike die marriages are quite rare. We’ve rated four different die marriages as R5 or R5+. No business strike dies were used for proofs, although we’ve seen several examples of business strike die marriages in proof holders, including one example of the OC-1 die marriage in our reference collection in a PCGS PR62 holder. Two different proof die marriages were issued, with two obverse dies sharing a common reverse. The second proof die marriage is very scarce. We’ve rated it as R5-. The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1871. We wouldn’t be surprised if one or two additional marriages are identified. However, we’ve reviewed nearly 2000 coins. This is all we’ve found.

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

Die Marriage
Rarity
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R2 1 A 1050
OC-2 R3 2 A 400
OC-3 R5+ 3 A 45
OC-4 R5 4 A 60
OC-5 R2 5 A 875
OC-6 R3- 5 B 425
OC-7 R2 6 B 800
OC-8 R4 7 B 150
OC-9 R3+ 8 C 275
OC-10 R2 9 C 975
OC-11 R2 10 C 625
OC-12 R3+ 11 D 250
OC-13 R2 12 D 525
OC-14 R5+ 11 E 45
OC-P1 R2 P1 PA 500
OC-P2 R5- P2 PA 75
Rarity estimates updated 10/4/16

1871 Business Strike Emission Sequence

With four of the five known reverse dies used multiple times and exhibiting progressive cracks during their periods of use, determining the emission sequence was relatively easy. However, there were two breaks in the sequence, where no dies were shared with previous marriages. These required arbitrary placement of the two sequences. Another minor issue was the recently discovered OC-14. This die marriage shares an obverse die with OC-12. Our reference example exhibits no notable differences in the die wear, but it’s the only example that we’ve been able to personally examime. Its placement in the emission sequence is our best guess. Our current estimate of the emission sequence is shown below.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-1 Earliest die state of Reverse A.
2 OC-2 Reverse A die state b.
3 OC-3 Reverse A die state b.
4 OC-4 Reverse A die state c.
5 OC-5 Obverse 5 die polishing indicates the OC-5 precedes OC-6. Latest die state of Reverse A.
6 OC-6 Obverse 5 die polishing indicates the OC-6 follows OC-5. Earliest die state of Reverse B.
7 OC-7 Reverse B die state c.
8 OC-8 Reverse B die state c.
9 OC-9 Placement of OC-9 is arbitrary since no dies were shared. We chose to put it after OC-8. Earliest die state of Reverse C.
10 OC-10 Reverse C die state b.
11 OC-11 Reverse C die state b. Die cracks are very slightly advanced from OC-10.
12 OC-14 Placement of OC-12 is arbitrary since no dies were shared. We chose to put it after OC-11. OC-14 shares Obverse 11 with OC-12. We haven't examined enough examples to determine conclusively whether it's #12 or #13 in the emission sequence. This is our best guess.
13 OC-12 Earliest die state of Reverse D.
14 OC-13 Reverse D die state b.

1871 Proof Emission Sequence

The emission order of OC-P1 and OC-P2 is a judgement call. The change in die wear between the two issues is virtually undetectable.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
Comments
1 OC-P1
2 OC-P2 The extent of Reverse PA die polishing indicates that OC-P2 was issued after OC-P1. However, the differences are nearly undetectable, so the sequence is really a judgement call

1871 Quick Finder Chart

With 16 different die marriages, the most for any year in the series, attribution can be difficult. Fortunately, only 5 reverse dies were used. All except the recently discovered Reverse E have notable markers. For quick attribution identify the reverse die first, then determine the obverse die from the identified options based on date placement and other notable features. The table following table shows the best markers to look for to facilitate quick attribution.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Right
Base of 1

1st 1
Vertical

Keys

OC-1 1 A LE C Obverse:   Two small lumps in gown just right of Y in LIBERTY.
Reverse:   Curved die line on the scroll between TR, off the right base of the T. A small die lump off the lower edge of the D in GOD.
OC-2 2 A C H Obverse:   Date is high, RB of 1 is JR of C.
Reverse:   Curved die line on the scroll between TR, off the right base of the T. A small die lump off the lower edge of the D in GOD.
OC-3 3 A L QTR SL Obverse:   Date is slightly low, slants VS down.
Reverse:   Curved die line on the scroll between TR, off the right base of the T. A small die lump off the lower edge of the D in GOD.
OC-4 4 A JL of RE H Obverse:   Farthest right of any 1871 date, grid = 6-3.0.
Reverse:   Curved die line on the scroll between TR, off the right base of the T. A small die lump off the lower edge of the D in GOD.
OC-5 5 A JL of RE VSH Obverse:   Minor repunching on the date. Die line in the gown above the upper left edge of the shield.
Reverse:   Curved die line on the scroll between TR, off the right base of the T. A small die lump off the lower edge of the D in GOD.
OC-6 5 B JL of RE VSH Obverse:   Minor repunching on the date. Die line in the gown above the upper left edge of the shield.
Reverse:   Die lines - slanting up to the left from the scroll border into the upper part of the D in GOD; another slanting up to the left on the end of the scroll under the last T in TRUST.
OC-7 6 B L QTR C Obverse:   Large but shallow lump in the gown right of bottom of Y in LIBERTY. Another more defined lump between the legs left of the pole base.
Reverse:   Die lines - slanting up to the left from the scroll border into the upper part of the D in GOD; another slanting up to the left on the end of the scroll under the last T in TRUST.
OC-8 7 B RE H Obverse:   Doubled die, most visible on the left side of the horizontal shield lines.
Reverse:   Die lines - slanting up to the left from the scroll border into the upper part of the D in GOD; another slanting up to the left on the end of the scroll under the last T in TRUST.
OC-9 8 C JR of C VH Obverse:   Circular die line at the intersection of Miss Liberty's right leg with her body.
Reverse:   A die line joins the middle of WE.
OC-10 9 C B C Obverse:   Centered date, RB of 1 is B.
Reverse:   A die line joins the middle of WE.
OC-11 10 C B H Obverse:   High date, RB of 1 is B.
Reverse:   A die line joins the middle of WE.
OC-12 11 D C C Obverse:   MPD - 187 in denticles.
Reverse:   A strong lump just right of the lower edge of the upper serif of the G in GOD.
OC-13 12 D JL of RE VSL Obverse:   Diagonal die lines extending from the lower right edge of the shield into the gown, below the Y in LIBERTY.
Reverse:   A strong lump just right of the lower edge of the upper serif of the G in GOD.
OC-14 11 E C C Obverse:   MPD - 187 in denticles.
Reverse:   NO lump right of serif of G in GOD.
OC-P1 P1 PAJR of LE VSL Obverse:   Two tiny lumps in the lower part of shield recess #4. Date grid = 4-4.0.
Reverse:   A circular die line in the motto at the top of the scroll right of WE.
OC-P2 P2 PAJL of C C Obverse:   First 1 is vertically centered, RB of 1 is JL of C. Date grid = 5-4.0.
Reverse:   A circular die line in the motto at the top of the scroll right of WE.


Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1871 PCGS MS65 CAC, from the Heritage archives.


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