General Comments

Most of the 1872-S mintage was held at the San Francisco mint and either released at a later time or melted after April, 1873 (reference 4). Some may also have been exported to the orient. When these factors are combined with the incredibly low mintage we see why 1872-S is a key date in the Liberty Seated Dollar series, though its price in lower grades puts it within the reach of most collectors. A mintage ranking of 11th out of 47 doesnít seem too challenging, but itís mintage of 9,000 would make it at least a key, at most a stopper, in almost any other series. Estimates of the rarity and availability of the date have varied widely. Our opinion is that 1872-S dollars are rare, but possibly a little more available than their mintage would indicate. We suspect that most of the mintage reached circulation, a situation much different from most Seated Dollars.

Nice problem-free examples can be located, but patient searching is required. Lower grade examples, VF or less, can be found without too much trouble, making this date a little different than most of the other rare dates in the series, and confirming Dave Bowers' opinion that much of the mintage was probably released for circulation. San Francisco coins seem to have circulated more than their Philadelphia counterparts.

Mintage 9,000
Proof mintage None
Mintage ranking 11th
Finest known MS64
Known obverse dies 1
Known reverse dies 1
Known die marriages 1
Most common die marriage OC-1/ R3-
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-1/ R3-
Mint state examples are extremely rare. Fewer than 25 examples have received a mint state grade at any level from the two major grading services. When re-submissions are considered the total is probably under 20. Choice examples are truly rare, virtually unobtainable. In MS63 or better this is one of the toughest dates in the entire series. The highest currently graded business strikes are four MS64 examples, two at PCGS and two at NGC. Each service has graded four additional coins MS63. As with most dates at least two or three of these choice coins probably represent re-submissions. A confirmation of our observations and those of Dave Bowers, that an above-average percentage of the 1872-S mintage actually circulated, is seen in the total number of coins certified by the major services Ė nearly 350 as of March, 2017. This puts 1872-S well above many other Seated Dollar issues. The bulk of those certified are AU50 and below, supporting the conclusion that these coins were used in commerce.

1872-S dollars almost always exhibit strikes that are stronger than average for the series. Very few examples have been seen with even minor strike weakness. High-grade examples are often semi-prooflike, but fully frosty examples can also be located. A small number of fully prooflike examples may be out there, but we havenít seen them. They are surely very rare if not non-existant.

1872-S Die Marriages

A single die pair was used to strike all currently known 1872-S examples. Neither die exhibited any signs of wear during the usage. No die cracks or other issues have been noted.

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

Die Marriage
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R3- 1 A 500

1872-S Business Strike Emission Sequence

With only a single business strike die marriage the emission sequence isn't terribly interesting.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
1 OC-1

1872-S Quick Finder Chart

With only a single die marriage known the quick-finder keys should be used primarily to verify that examples are genuine.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Base of 1


OC-1 1 A L QTR Obverse:   RB of 1 is L QTR. Date slants down.
Reverse:   The mintmark is small and completely left of the feather tip.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1872-S NGC MS63, ex. Gene Gardner, from the Heritage archives.

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