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Choice Proof 1856 Silver Dollar From a Late Reverse Die State

1856 $1 PR64 NGC. This intriguing example was struck from the die marriage that Bowers describes as No. 1 in his 1993 Silver Dollar reference. The most readily evident diagnostic of the obverse die is a series of die lines in the drapery at the junction of Liberty's torso and right (facing) thigh. A thin, curved die line in the field above the ITED in UNITED, a rust lump over the lower left base of the L in DOL, and another rust lump on the rim below the right base of that letter identify the reverse die. This die was also used to produce the proof 1857 and 1858 examples in the Silverman Collection, but there seem to be different die states. The present coin and the 1858 display another prominent rust lump over the upper left corner of the D in DOL, a feature that is not present on the reverse of the Silverman proof 1857 specimen. Bowers' assertion that "one example [of the proof 1856] seen has a raised area somewhat resembling die rust on the lower left of the upright of L in DOL" suggests that some proof 1856 Seated Dollars struck from this reverse die do not display this feature. It seems likely, therefore, that the Mint prepared this die in 1856 and used it to strike original proofs that year. These coins would be identifiable by lack of die rust on the L in DOL. The Mint then used this die to produce original proof 1857 examples, by which time die rust had formed over the lower left base of the L in DOL, but not over the upper left corner of the D in DOL. The die was once again pressed into service to strike original proof 1858 Seated Dollars, the rust over the upper left corner of the D in DOL having formed in the interim. As the present 1856 representative is from the same die state as the 1858, it is probable that this coin was produced in 1858.
Of course, the possible status of this coin as a restrike should have no effect on its value to advanced Seated Dollar collectors. The proof 1856 Dollar is a rare issue, having been struck in an era before proof coinage, and numismatics in general, had become popular among the American public. Breen (1989) stated that perhaps 40 proof Silver Dollars of this date are extant. This near-Gem is lightly overlaid in golden patina through which uniform reflectivity shines at virtually all angles. A few faint spots of tan colored iridescence are scattered over the central reverse, but there are no noteworthy hairlines or contact marks. Light planchet porosity is evident in the obverse field, particularly before Liberty's portrait and around the date. A small lintmark (as struck) in the field between Liberty's head and star 8 is mentioned for pedigree purposes. Fully defined, as befits a specimen striking. (NGC ID# 252A, PCGS# 6999)

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Auction Dates
April, 2002
25th-27th Thursday-Saturday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 3
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 344

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