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    Description

    Elusive Gem Proof 1856 Gold Dollar

    1856 G$1 Slanted 5 PR65 PCGS. The year 1856 was in many ways a transitional year at the nation's mints. Preparations were under way to do away with the filthy and unpopular "old copper" half cents and cents, and accordingly the Philadelphia Mint struck a large number of pattern Flying Eagle cents made of copper-nickel, in a new, small-size format. The arrows at the date from 1853-1855 on minor silver coinage, signifying a reduced silver content, were removed in this year. The newly opened San Francisco Mint struck its first dimes and quarter eagles, along with the only Indian Princess, Small Head (Type Two) gold dollars produced in 1856. Meanwhile, the newly designed Indian Princess, Large Head (Type Three) gold dollars were produced at the Philadelphia and Dahlonega mints.
    The Philadelphia Mint manufactured more than 1.76 million business strike gold dollars during 1856, in two styles, with the 5 in the date either upright or slanted. An unknown but small number of proofs was also produced, usually estimated at 10 to 15 pieces. Most other coin denominations, with a couple of exceptions, from 1850 to 1856 show slanted 5s, while they disappear altogether by 1857. A popular numismatic chestnut holds that Mint Engraver James B. Longacre preferred his 5s slanted, while other mint personnel favored the upright 5s. For much more on the phenomenon of slanted or italic 5s, see the article "A New Slant on Coins of 1850-56" by Craig Krueger and John W. Dannreuther in The Numismatist, June 2002. Krueger and Dannreuther draw a distinction between "slanting" and "italic" numerals, and note that they are mutually exclusive: "Slanting" numerals can be non-italic, and some upright numerals show italic characteristics.
    Although Walter Breen believed that the Upright 5 gold dollar in the Floyd T. Starr sale (Stack's, 10/1992) was a proof, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth's recently released Gold Encyclopedia states categorically that the piece was a prooflike business strike, and that all proofs are of the "Slant 5" style. The current specimen shows the date low and slanting upward to the right, a diagnostic for genuine proofs, but beyond that it shows the unmistakable characteristics of proof coinage.
    The surfaces exhibit rich reddish-gold coloration. The fields show the deep mirrors one would expect from a proof, and the devices are nicely frosted and give the coin a two-toned appearance. One interesting aspect seen on this piece is light die clashing in the reverse fields. This was a common problem on Type Two gold dollars, and it appears that mint personnel continued to consider a planchet optional before striking even in the first year of Type Three production. Population: 2 in 65, 0 finer (11/06).(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# B48N, PCGS# 7606)

    Weight: 1.67 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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