General Comments

All the 1872-S mintage was held at the San Francisco mint and released either during the year or in early 1873. Up to 1000 may have been exported to the orient. See reference 23 for an excellent analysis of the distribution of this date.

The mintage alone, 9000 pieces, makes this a key date in the Liberty Seated dollar series, although 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 a mintage of 9,000 would be 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. The fact that most of the mintage reached circulation makes this date much different from most Seated dollar issues.

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 that much of the mintage was 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 almost surely represent re-submissions. A confirmation of our observations, and those of Dave Bowers (reference 4), that an above-average percentage of the 1872-S mintage circulated, is seen in the total number of coins certified by the major services: 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 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 link below to view the details of the only 1872-S die marriage.

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 is simple.

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.

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