Welcome to Liberty Seated Dollars! The fact that you’re reading this indicates that you have more than a passing interest in the series. That’s good from many aspects. The Liberty Seated Dollar series has been under-appreciated for many years. Collectors have passed by the series due to many reasons. Probably foremost is the cost of entry. A common Liberty Seated Dollar in a low but undamaged grade can cost $300 or more. Compare this to any other Liberty Seated Series. Common date half dimes, dimes, quarters, and halves cost the collector a tenth of that price or less. The most expensive, twenty cent pieces, are in the $100 range. For this reason alone, all but a few experienced collectors have completely ignored Liberty Seated Dollars, assembling a two-piece type set at most.
But now look at what many collectors have missed. Liberty Seated Dollars, even common dates, are truly rare by most modern standards. The entire series, covering 34 years and 47 dates, has a total mintage of 6.5 million pieces. Numerous single dates of the Morgan Dollar series, and even some dates of other Liberty Seated denominations, have higher mintages. Considering an expected survival rate of 5% or less, the total population of existing Liberty Seated Dollars is probably less than the surviving population of 1909-S-VDB cents. THESE COINS ARE TRULY RARE!!
Compare the third-party grading statistics for Liberty Seated Dollars with a few of the classic key coins (statistics are as of April 27, 2017, for problem-free coins only):
** Source - NGC Population Report, May 1, 2017
*** Source - Coin World Coin Values. Liberty Seated Dollar value is for a common date type coin
The statistics shown above clearly underscore the point that Liberty Seated dollars are scarce. The type collector looking for a single Liberty Seated dollar example has fewer coins to choose from than the Lincoln cent collector seeking to fill the key hole in the set. The key Mercury dime and Morgan dollar are a little scarcer, but tell a similar story.
A by-product of the low collector interest has been the lack of detailed information on the series. Very few individuals have made serious attempts to study Liberty Seated Dollars. Exceptions are the CC dates and a few of the rarities, such as 1851, 1852, and 1870-S. Even in the Gobrecht Journal, the bible of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club (reference 1), information on Liberty Seated Dollars has been limited, with articles on other series greatly out-numbering those on dollars. One purpose of this book is to begin correcting that lack of information, by creating a reference similar to those pioneered by Gerry Fortin for Liberty Seated Dimes (reference 2) and Bill Bugert (with Randy Wiley) for Liberty Seated Halves (reference 3).
This reference has two parts – a web book and a paper book. The web book, found at www.seateddollarvarieties.com, is free to all who wish to use it. It includes all the same information that can be found in the printed book, but will be updated with new findings as they are reported to the authors. The paper book is published in two versions. The hardcover version is a limited edition, available by subscription prior to publication. The regular version is more widely available, and is published in paperback form. Updates will be available from the authors as new die marriages or die states are discovered.
A few words about what this reference is, and isn’t. It is a detailed listing of the known die marriages of the Liberty Seated Dollar series, including both proofs and business strikes. It provides detailed information on coins struck using each known obverse and reverse die combination. We make no claim that we’ve found all the existing die marriages. We hope that we’ve made it to 95% or more. We further hope that the web book and/or the paper book will provide impetus for collectors to attribute their dollars, and that through this process additional die marriages will be identified and reported to us. As they are confirmed and documented we’ll include them in the web book and create new additions to the paper book. Revised editions of the paper book will be published when current supplies are exhausted, and will include all new information that has been identified since the previous publication.
The web book will be updated over time to include photos of die states. Because of page limitations these will usually not be included in the book.
This isn’t intended to be a go-to reference to learn the history of Liberty Seated Dollar production. That topic has already been well-covered by numerous authors. Probably the foremost of those is Q. David Bowers with his epic reference, “Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States, a Complete Encyclopedia” (reference 4). Although out of print, that reference can be found on the after-market with a little effort. We’ve included only limited historical information on each date, mostly as it pertains to determining the surviving population. Our focus is on identifying and carefully documenting all known die marriages and varieties.
We do hope that there’s enough here to whet your appetite for this challenging series. Good hunting! And please let us know if you find a coin that appears to be a die marriage or a die state not described in this reference.
Copyright © 2015, by Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing, All rights reserved.