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Unimprovable 1865 Seated Dollar, PR68
The Single Finest Example Known

1865 $1 PR68 NGC. Of the 373 1865 proof silver dollars that have been certified as of (1/08) by both NGC and PCGS combined, the current coin stands above all others with regard to state of preservation and technical grade. A smattering of examples exist at the PR66 and PR67 levels, but only one, the piece offered here, has been awarded the seemingly unattainable grade of PR68. The fields are deeply mirrored and the devices display significant mint frost which yields an unacknowledged cameo contrast beneath the multiple layers of toning. Rose and sea-green toning are seen over each side to varying degrees of intensity. The devices are fully struck in all areas, as one would expect. What is unexpected, however, are the extraordinarily clean surfaces. We simply do not see any defects on this coin.
Although 46,500 Seated dollars dated 1865 were struck for circulation, the number of survivors is comparable to that of the 500 proof coins produced that same year. According to Bowers in his seminal work on the subject, Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States (1993), the reason for this fact is twofold: most of mintage of 1865 business strike dollars were exported to Central and South America whereas the full production of 500 proof pieces were distributed with the 1865 silver proof sets. Today fewer than 400 business strikes are extant, with the vast majority of those survivors in circulated grades. Approximately the same number of proof examples are available today, based on a thorough review of auction records, population data and independent analyses of numismatic researchers. The problem encountered by advanced collectors of business strike Seated dollars, however, is the fact that few Mint State pieces dated 1865 exist. The inclusion of a high grade proof specimen into one's regular issue collection is often a tempting, and sometimes the only, option.
Breen (1977) claims to have seen one of the 1865 proof sets as produced by the Mint: "I have since seen one in original case of issue, black morocco, lined with blue satin and aquamarine plush ... ." When contemplating how an 1865 proof silver dollar could have survived 143 years in Superb Gem condition, it is easy to visualize a piece that was struck with great care under perfect conditions and immediately placed into one of the original proof set cases as described by Breen. While most of the early sets were disassembled over the years and handled with less than perfect care, this proof dollar was under the constant custodianship of an astute numismatist, or put away and forgot about throughout the decades. Whatever the case may be, numismatists of our time rejoice in the fact that this coin has defied the odds.
Regardless of state of preservation or ranking in the Condition Census, all 1865 proof Seated dollars are imbued with historical significance. 1865 was the final year of the Civil War, but it is important to note that all 500 proof silver dollars of this date were issued between February 25 and March 24. Mere days later and approximately 300 miles to the south, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The current piece has not changed since the instant it was struck and, as such, is a time capsule of America's history and a numismatic masterpiece. Census: 1 in 68, 0 finer (1/08).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 252K, PCGS# 7008)

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Auction Dates
March, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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