Design Types

Liberty Seated dollars were issued from 1840 through 1873 with only one major design change. The two design types – NO MOTTO and WITH MOTTO – differed only on the reverse. The obverse, shown in the following photo, was unchanged through all 34 years of issue.

Liberty Seated Dollar Obverse

Coins minted from 1840 through 1865 used the NO MOTTO reverse, shown in the photo below. These represented the first of the two design types. 1866 NO MOTTO pieces also exist, but they were probably struck at some time after 1866 and are thus considered by most collectors as fantasy pieces rather than part of a set of standard-issue coins. Reqardless of the circumstances surrounding their issue these coins are classic rarities. No business strikes are known, only two proof examples. The most recent of these to change hands sold in the “Classics” auction held by American Numismatic Rarities (now Stacks-Bowers) in September, 2003. The following photo shows the NO MOTTO reverse.

Liberty Seated Dollar NO MOTTO reverse

The reverse was changed slightly in 1866 (possibly 1865), adding the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. This change created the second design type. WITH MOTTO examples were issued from 1866 (possibly 1865) through 1873. WITH MOTTO fantasy pieces exist for 1863 and 1864. They were struck in 1869 or later (reference 24). WITH MOTTO pieces also exist for 1865. The study documented in Reference 24 determined that a few of these pieces were struck in 1865 or early 1866, while most were struck in 1869 or later. If any were struck in 1865, they would be either patterns or regular issue proofs, while the pieces struck in 1869 or later would be restrikes. In this case the regular issue WITH MOTTO coinage could have begun in 1865, rather than the currently accepted date of 1866. If the first strikes of the 1865 WITH MOTTO coins were struck in 1866, they would be fantasy pieces, as would those struck in 1869 or later. The following photo shows the WITH MOTTO reverse.

Liberty Seated Dollar WITH MOTTO reverse

Photo credits:

Obverse and Reverse No Motto:   1851 NGC AU58, from the Osburn-Cushing reference collection.
Reverse With Motto type:   1872-CC NGC MS64, ex. Gene Gardner, from the Heritage archives.

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