1861 $1 MS65 PCGS....
1861 Silver Dollar, MS651861 $1 MS65 PCGS. The 1861 Seated Liberty dollar claims a nominal mintage of 77,500 pieces, but the date is quite challenging for present-day collectors. The 1861 was the first issue of the Civil War era, and distribution patterns changed radically during that period. Until 1861, most silver dollars were used in the China trade, and significant numbers of 1861 dollars undoubtedly found their way to the Orient, as well. However, it seems that most dollars of this date remained in this country, to be melted for bullion used to strike subsidiary coinage. R.W. Julian reports:
"There was very heavy melting of dollars in 1861 for use as bullion in the manufacture of subsidiary silver. In one case there were 40,000 silver dollars melted at Philadelphia. I suspect that a careful investigation of archival material would turn up meltings well in excess of that."
Whatever the fate of the majority of the 1861 mintage, it is certain that examples in Gem condition are very rare today. Heritage has only handled two other 1861 Seated Liberty dollars in MS65 in prior auctions, one in lot 6504 of the 1993 ANA Sale, and another in lot 2119 of the Queller Family Collection of Silver Dollars (Heritage, 4/2008). The Queller coin realized $46,000. Currently, PCGS has certified four coins in Gem condition, with a single specimen finer, while NGC has graded only three examples in MS65, with none finer (6/12).
The present coin is a remarkable Gem specimen, a realistic candidate for Condition Census, and one of the finest examples known of this scarce date. The striking details are quite sharp, an important consideration with this issue, as the 1861 is known for its weak definition. The surfaces are completely brilliant, and the fields display pronounced semiprooflikeness from heavy die striations. Satiny mint luster adds to the considerable eye appeal.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 24Z4, PCGS# 6951)
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