General Comments

In the final year of Liberty Seated dollar coinage, the mintage receded from the high point reached in 1872, though it was still large by Seated dollar standards. This date is often lumped together with 1871 and 1872 and considered common. It’s not rare, but it is tougher to find than its two younger sisters. Examples of the date are readily available. There is, however, an additional demand on the available supply, since many collectors like to add the first and/or last year of issue to their type sets. Because of this 1873 coins bring a slight premium over other common dates.

As with most common dates from the Seated dollar series high grades, up through MS63, are readily available. Well-circulated coins are a little more available for this date than for many others. Highest availability remains in the mid-VF to mid-AU grade ranges. Problem-free coins below VF are scarce, more so than the previous two Philadelphia products, but more available than many other years. That said, the population reports still show that only a little over 5% of the available problem-free coins are less than VF20.

The population reports of both major grading services show that more than 30% of the graded business strikes are mint state, a higher percentage than for most common dates. Apparently, the last year of issue was saved by many collectors of the day. The finest known examples are four coins graded MS66, two by each grading service. One of the PCGS coins is graded MS66+, the single finest example of the date. 13 additional coins have received a MS65 grade, 7 by PCGS and 6 by NGC. 40 have been graded MS64. A significant number of the grading records surely represent re-submissions, particularly among the 40 MS64 examples. Population statistics are as of February, 2019.

Mintage 293,600
Proof mintage 600
Mintage ranking 41st
Finest known MS66
Known obverse dies 4
Known reverse dies 3
Known die marriages 5
Most common die marriage OC-2/ R2
Rarest business strike die marriage OC-3/ R5+
Rarest proof die marriage OC-P1/ R3
The finest known proof is a single PR68 example graded by NGC. That coin is designated as ultra cameo. PCGS has graded a single coin PR67. It was designated as deep cameo. 23 coins have received a PR66 grade, with 4 of them graded PR66+. 46 have been given a PR65. Overall the statistics show that 1873 is equally available when compared to the earlier with motto dates. Proof population statistics are as of February, 2019.

1873 strikes vary significantly. We’ve seen fully struck examples, but we’ve also seen coins that exhibit major strike weakness. Our die marriage OC-4 seems particularly susceptible to strike weakness, often seen with right side stars that are very flat and additional weakness on the upper left wing edge. Two MS65 examples auctioned since 2015 have shown major weakness on the right side stars. However, well-struck examples can be found with patient searching.

High-grade business strikes are sometimes prooflike or semi-prooflike, but more often frosty. With a mintage of nearly 300,000 coins spread over only three obverse dies and two reverses the dies wore sufficiently to eliminate prooflike surfaces for most examples. But examples are available for those who love prooflike surfaces.

It should be noted that our research indicates that a new obverse hub or master die was introduced in 1873 and used to produce the proof obverse die, Obverse P1, and at least two business strike obverses, Obverse 1 and Obverse 2. Numerous lumps that appear on Miss Liberty’s neck and are diagnostic of Obverse P1, the proof obverse die (see the description for OC-P1) have also been noted on Obverse 1 and Obverse 2, indicating that they came from the hub, or the master die. These are not seen on any earlier obverse dies, nor on Obverse 3.

1873 Die Marriages

Five die marriages have been positively identified. 3 obverse dies were paired with 2 reverses to strike four business strike die pairs. All reverse dies were new, with none transitioned from 1872. None of the business strike dies were used for proofs. A single proof die marriage is known, pairing two unique dies. The reverse die is transitional, first used in 1872. The following table summarizes the known die marriages for 1873. We would not be surprised if one or two additional marriages are identified in the future. We’ve looked at many examples, but suspect that we haven’t found them all.

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

Die Marriage
Obverse Die
Reverse Die
Estimated Survivors
OC-1 R4- 1 A 175
OC-2 R2 1 B 880
OC-3 R5+ 2 B 45
OC-4 R3 3 B 400
OC-P1 R3 P1 1872 PA 360

1873 Business Strike Emission Sequence

The 1873 emission sequence is conclusive, with die polish on shared dies clearly identifying the order in which they were used.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
1 OC-1
2 OC-2 Obverse 1 die polish significantly reduced the unfinished area under the chin, placing OC-2 after OC-1
3 OC-3 Reverse B die polish reduced the relief of the end of the scroll under UST, placing OC-3 after OC-2
4 OC-4 Reverse B die polish further reduced the relief of the end of the scroll under UST, placing OC-4 after OC-3

1873 Proof Emission Sequence

With only a single proof die marriage identified the emission sequence is simple.

Emission Order
Die Marriage
1 OC-P1

1873 Quick Finder Chart

All dies have notable markers. However, the date positions are similar, so care should be taken in making attributions. First identify the reverse die, then determine the date position. The following table shows the best markers to allow quick attribution.

Die Marriage

Obv Die

Rev Die

Base of 1

1st 1


OC-1 1 A LE SH Obverse: High date. Right base of over LE. Lump on neck below Miss Liberty's chin (from the master die).
Reverse: Tiny die lumps around E in WE. A die line slants down to the left connecting the lower right side of the G in GOD to the edge of the scroll.
OC-2 1 B LE SH Obverse: High date. Right base of over LE. Lump on neck below Miss Liberty's chin (from the master die).
Reverse: Several lumps right and just above the serif of G in GOD.
OC-3 2 B JR of C SH Obverse: High date. Right base of 1 is JR of C. Grid = 4-5.0, farthest left date in 1873.
Reverse: Several lumps right and just above the serif of G in GOD.
OC-4 3 B RE C Obverse: 1 is centered vertically, 3 is slightly low. Lumps in 7th shield recess above Y in LIBERTY.
Reverse: Several lumps right and just above the serif of G in GOD.
OC-P1 P1 1872 PA RE C Obverse: Numerous lumps on Miss Liberty's neck and breast (from the master die).
Reverse: Strongly doubled reverse die.

Photo credits:

Obverse and reverse full photos:   1873 NGC PR66 Ultra Cameo, from the Heritage archives.

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