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HomeUS Coins1851 Gold Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1851 Gold Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1851 Gold Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1851 Gold Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The 1851 Gold Dollar has the second-highest mintage of any Type 1 Gold Dollar. The Philadelphia Mint struck 3,317,671 gold dollars in 1851. Many examples survive in MS64 and below, but the most frequently encountered grade report by the three leading grading services is MS62. Connoisseurs have bid competitively at the small handful of coins that grade MS67 or finer. From this small subset of surviving specimens, U.S. gold coin specialist and CoinWeek content partner Doug Winter suggests that the PCGS MS68+ from the Akers, Duckor, and Simpson collections is the finest he has ever seen, finer even than the single coin graded MS69 by NGC. The PCGS MS68+ upgraded by one-half point before the Simpson sale after last being graded MS68 in 2015; it graded MS68 in its prior submission, as well.

Although it took many dies to strike over three million coins, a common feature on many condition census examples is a raised “pimple” on the chin and evidence of die lapping on the reverse where fine details like the stems leading to the berries or the thinner areas of the ribbon have been effaced from the die. Perhaps these coins were saved together many years ago.

A survey of recent sales at the collector grade of MS63 shows prices realized in the $550 to $650 range. Coins bringing higher numbers tend to be CAC-approved PCGS examples. Coins in that “common” MS62 grade sell for about $400. With so many coins available, we advise collectors against purchasing any 1851 Gold Dollar with visual impairments or coins below the grade of MS62.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population:  PCGS MS68+ (1, 5/2024). NGC MS69 (1, 5/2024), and CAC MS68 (1:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

  • NGC MS69 #2027565-001: Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2015, Lot 5229 – $58,750. Pleasing toned gold. Small “pimple” on chin. Missing berries from lapped die. Small tick in the right obverse field between stars at 3 and 4 o’clock. Small tick above tip of the coronet.
  • PCGS MS68+ CAC #40276027: David W. Akers. As PCGS MS68. Stack’s Bowers, August 13, 2011, Lot 7579 – $63,250. Pop two, with none finer, when offered. As PCGS MS68 CAC #24463214. “The Duckor Family Collection of Gold Dollars,” Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2015, Lot 4241 – $94,000. Duckor / Akers on insert. As PCGS MS68+ CAC #40276027. “The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part IV,” Heritage Auctions, February 23, 2021, Lot 3082 – $108,000. Coin upgraded one-half point. Top pop, pop one when offered. Simpson novelty insert. Small “pimple” on chin. Berries missing stems. Tick at the tip of the coronet. Three light streaks between stars at 12 and 1 o’clock. Diagonal planchet void at star at 2 o’clock. A tiny planchet void below TA and two tiny hits to the left of 1 are on the reverse. Thin vertical scratch on 1. Pleasing toned gold. Pop two, with none finer, when offered. Doug Winter called this coin the finest known in 2015. Plate coin for this profile.
  • NGC MS68 #1743973-017: Heritage Auctions, June 3, 2004, Lot 6160 – $19,550.
  • NGC MS68 #956086-017: “An Exquisite Gold Dollar Collection Consigned by a Financial Institution,” Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2002, Lot 6650 – $24,150. Small “pimple” on chin.
  • NGC MS67 #6605857-004: Heritage Auctions, February 9, 2023, Lot 3786 – $11,100; Heritage Auctions, May 5, 2023, Lot 5006 – $10,500. Thin diagonal mark above the head at 2 o’clock. Tiny horizontal tick near the bottom of the neck. Small die crack on the reverse over D and S Horizontal tick between big 1 and first L of DOLLAR. Reflective areas above and below the date.
  • NGC MS67 #302057-002: “The Richard C. Jewell Collection,” American Numismatic Rarities, March 2005, Lot 518; Heritage Auctions, September 15, 2006, Lot 3007 – $12,075; “The Madison Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2008, Lot 3041 – $16,100; “The Larry H. Miller Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, December 17, 2020, Lot 1110 – $10,200. Green copper spot at the right tip of the star at 6 o’clock. Hit at the bottom of 1. Gouges around ribbon- ribbon incomplete.
  • PCGS MS67 #36051389: Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2020, Lot 4313 – $11,400; Heritage Auctions, November 20, 2020, Lot 3363 – $11,100. Diagonal mark from the tip of the nose to the neck. Tiny gouge on neck. Streaks to the right of star at 7 and 9 o’clock On the reverse, two diagonal marks to the left of the big 1.
  • PCGS MS67 #05904747: “The Oliver Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2011, Lot 7405 – $17,250. Small “pimple” on chin. Berries missing stems. Tiny hit above star at 5 o’clock. Orange discoloration at the back of the bust truncation. On the reverse, there is a small copper spot under O of OF. two small streaks below 1 of the date. 
  • PCGS MS67: Stack’s Bowers, March 28, 2011, Lot 6164 – $20,125. Tiny copper spot on neck and to the left of the star at 6 o’clock. Small diagonal mark to the right of the star at 10 o’clock. On the reverse, there is a thin lintmark between RI. Small scuffs on 1. Small tick below U.
  • NGC MS67 #1633063-001: Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2007, Lot 3350 – $16,100; Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2011, Lot 7404 – $14,950; Heritage Auctions, June 1, 2012, Lot 4722 – $13,800. Die cracks at the lower left of the obverse. Vertical striae on both sides. Discoloration above the star at 5 o’clock. Tick in left obverse field between stars at 9 and 10 o’clock. On the reverse, orange copper spot over C.
  • PCGS MS67: “The James and Margaret Carter Collection of United States Gold Coins,” Stack’s, January 1986, Lot 13; “New York Connoisseur’s Collection,” American Numismatic Rarities, March 14, 2006, Lot 1389 – $16,100. “Pimple” on chin.
  • PCGS MS67: American Numismatic Rarities, July 25, 2003, Lot 617 – $20,700. “Pimple” on chin.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1851
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 3,317,671
Alloy: .900 Gold, .100 Copper
Weight: 1.672 g
Diameter: 13.00 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: James Barton Longacre
REV Designer: James Barton Longacre
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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