1858 Seated Dollar, PR66
1858 $1 PR66 NGC. This splendid Premium Gem is fully
detailed on both sides, complementing impressive magenta and
sea-green toning. The fields exhibit deep reflectivity, and any
faint, wispy hairlines are fully obscured by the rich patina. The
visual appeal is truly exceptional from every angle.
Rare Proof-Only Issue
Among the Finest Known
Population Data (5/14): NGC has certified a mere four examples in PR66, Cameo and non-Cameo pieces combined, with only a single piece numerically finer. None have graded this high at PCGS, with or without a Cameo designation.
Heritage Commentary: From a small mintage estimated at about 300 coins, the 1858 is the most famous proof Seated dollar of the series due to its status as the sole proof-only date issued from 1840 to 1873. It is also one of the least-understood of all American numismatic issues.
Duncan Lee, a well-known specialist on Seated coinage, compiled an excellent two-page study of proof Seated dollar rarity, published in the August 2006 "Monthly Supplement" of the Coin Dealer Newsletter. For the 1858 issue, Lee writes:
"The 1858 is the only Proof-only date in the Liberty Seated silver dollar series. All known survivors were struck from one obverse die paired with at least two reverse dies, one being the same reverse die used for some 1856 and 1857 proofs ... Several others were made with the reverse die which was used to produce some 1859 proofs."
In his Proof Encyclopedia, Walter Breen described two different reverse dies, with diagnostics differing slightly from Lee's study. For one reverse, Breen recorded that the "claws touch, [and] two lower arrowheads touch shafts; often, depressed mark (from foreign matter on die) in field near beak."
The coin here offered appears to feature characteristics of both of Breen's reverses. Like the second reverse, the shallow depression is indeed seen near the beak, but like the first, the claws are separated and the two lower arrowheads are distant from the shafts above. Additionally, a straight die line is seen in the narrow space over ITE of UNITED, which appears identical to a diagnostic die line seen on one of the 1856 proof reverses, as evidenced by Lee.
It seems die studies for proof 1858 dollars are in need of substantial overhauling, as different authors use different notations with little consistency. Whatever the case may be, however, precious few representatives of this seldom seen proof-only issue come close to the quality and visual appeal of this piece, and few other issues in the Seated dollar series are as intriguing and elusive as the 1858 proof.
Provenance: ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 1802; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5638, which brought $41,400.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 252C, PCGS# 7001)
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