HomeUS Coins1875-S Twenty-Cent Piece : A Collector's Guide

1875-S Twenty-Cent Piece : A Collector’s Guide

1875-S Twenty-Cent Piece. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1875-S Twenty-Cent Piece. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

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

In the first week of June 1875, the San Francisco Mint began to strike the new Liberty Seated Twenty-Cent piece. By the end of the year, the mint’s output of the new coin would dwarf the total number of quarters it produced. Excluding Proofs, the 1875-S accounts for 85% of the total number of all twenty-cent pieces struck. As conceived, the twenty-cent piece was meant to be a western-state denomination as minor coinage was struck only at the Philadelphia Mint. This was not to be, and the denomination’s failure to catch on was immediately felt. The San Francisco Mint would not strike the denomination in 1876, and by the next year, the issue was relegated to Proof-only status, only to be eliminated with the passage of the Bland-Allison Act of 1878.

Brunner and Frost report 23 die marriages for the 1875-S. They vary in scarcity from R-1 to R-5, with BF-3 and BF-8 being among the most challenging. Dealer Gerry Fortin has published an excellent online resource for die information.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

The 1875-S is a popular type coin due to its availability. Examples of this issue are readily available in Gem.

Top Population:  PCGS MS68 (1, 4/2024), NGC MS68 (1, 4/2024), and CAC MS67 (1:0 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

  • PCGS MS68 #25501736: Knoxville Collection; “The James W. Lull Collection,” Bowers and Merena, January 2005, Lot 678; As PCGS MS68 #21817908. Heritage Auctions, November 3, 2005, Lot 2093 – $66,125. As PCGS MS68 #25501736. “The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation,” Stack’s Bowers, August 2015, Lot 10071 – $52,875. Top pop, pop one when offered. Dark rim toning primarily focused on the right side of the obverse. Mottled reverse toning. Top pop, pop one when offered. The certification number is no longer active.
  • PCGS MS67 #43230689: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, January 27, 2022, Lot 98 – Passed. PQ green, red, and blue target toning on both sides. Certification number no longer active.
  • PCGS MS67 #38823517: Stack’s Bowers, March 19, 2020, Lot 3142 – $14,000 Reserve Note Met; Heritage Auctions, October 15, 2020, Lot 3045 – $17,400. BF-3 Die Marriage. Weak tops of TED STA as is typical. All over woodland toning on both sides. 
  • PCGS MS67 #37754648: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, May 16, 2019, Lot 379 – $19,387.50; Legend Rare Coin Auctions, September 26, 2019, Lot 224 – $18,212.50.
  • PCGS MS67 #35824497: Stack’s Bowers, October 25, 2018, Lot 2072 – $19,200; GreatCollections, August 16, 2020, Lot 868305 – View.
  • PCGS MS67 #60164499: Heritage Auctions, September 6, 2018, Lot 3043 – $33,600. BF-9 die marriage. Brilliant. A spot to the left of the cap. The first star is flat-struck. Hit to the top left of star 10. Hit of Liberty’s bent forearm. On the reverse, there is a dark spot to the left of the eagle’s head. Hit to the left of the eagle’s leg. Die crack around ATES OF AMERICA.
  • NGC MS67 #1919805-002: As NGC MS67 #1919805-002. Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2006, Lot 5155 – $16,100. Heritage Auctions, November 2007, Lot 60498 – $15,525; As NGC MS67 #1852577-002. “The Oliver Collection”, Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2011, Lot 7097 – $16,100. Mottled toning throughout. Shattered reverse die. Clogged S mintmark. Heritage attributes the coin as an MPD-002. 
  • NGC MS67 #138796-001: Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2006, Lot 5156 – $23,000. Brilliant. Die crack from the rim below star thirteen to Liberty’s ankle. Planchet flaw at the rim at 9 o’clock. Diagonal die scratch from the eagle’s wing to the eagle’s left leg. Shattered reverse de with spiderweb cracks around the legend. Mint mark is flatly struck.
  • NGC MS66 #4240759-007: Stack’s Bowers, March 27, 2024, Lot 5304 – View. Brilliant. There is a dark spot on the top of Star 8.

1875-S Liberty Seated Twenty-Cent Piece, “Misplaced Date,” FS-301

Close-up of the 1875-S Twenty-Cent FS-301 variety. The disturbed area in the denticles below the 8 is thought to be a misplaced date punch. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
Close-up of the 1875-S Twenty-Cent FS-301 variety. The disturbed denticle area below the eight is considered a misplaced date punch. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
  • NGC MS67 #3209949-001: Heritage Auctions, July 31, 2008, Lot 1625 – $23,000; Heritage Auctions, May 28, 2009, Lot 598 – $14,950. Heritage Auctions, July 14, 2022, Lot 3072 – $13,800. New holder. The certification number is no longer active. Brilliant. Two ticks on Liberty’s upright forearm. Tony rim nick above star 8. Mint mark is flatly struck. Hit on the eagle’s right leg. Highly reflective are behind the eagle’s head and above the wings. Die scratch from wing to eagle’s left leg.
  • PCGS MS67 #3489068: Pinnacle Rarities to Eugene H. Gardner, November 2006; “The Eugene H. Gardner Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 23, 2014, Lot 30339 – $19,975. Dark discoloration on Liberty’s neck and the space between her head and the cap. Mottled toning throughout the obverse and reverse.

1875-S Liberty Seated Twenty-Cent Piece “Dollar Sign Variety,” FS-302

Close-up of the 1875-S Twenty-Cent FS-302 variety. Not the rotated mintmark underneath. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
Close-up of the 1875-S Twenty-Cent FS-302 variety. Not the rotated mintmark underneath. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

BF-16. R-1. Repunched mintmark with an obvious rotational shift. Possibly misplaced digit 5 in the denticles below the date. This variety was discovered in the late 1950s and is scarce. In higher grades, the variety trades on par with other 1875-S twenty-cent pieces in the same grade.

  • PCGS MS67 #46469479: Heritage Auctions, February 9, 2023, Lot 3718 – $21,600. Variety attributed by Heritage Auctions. Rainbow target toning on the obverse. 
  • NGC MS67 #4842510-001: Heritage Auctions, October 17, 2019, Lot 3067 – $16,200; Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2020, Lot 3695 – $12,600; Heritage Auctions, February 24, 2022, Lot 3043 – $15,600. BF-16. Variety attributed by Heritage Auctions. Brilliant. Scattered rust toning between stars 1 and 2 and on the ribbon of through LI. Shattered reverse die.
  • NGC MS67 #1849240-002: Heritage Auctions, May 31, 2007, Lot 855 – $17,250; “The Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two,” Heritage Auctions, April 30, 2009, Lot 2297 – $14,950. Variety attributed by Heritage Auctions. Brilliant. With shattered reverse die. Hit above the eagle’s head.

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Design

Obverse:

Liberty is seated; she is facing to the left. She holds a rod in her left hand. Atop the rod is a pileus. Her left-hand holds the corner of the federal shield. A ribbon atop the shield displays the word LIBERTY. Thirteen six-pointed stars partially encircle the design. The date appears at the bottom. Denticles border a raised rim.

Reverse:

An eagle stands with its wings outstretched, clutching an olive branch and a bundle of three arrows in its talons. This is the same design that appears on the United States Trade Dollar. Encircling the design is the text UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and TWENTY CENTS. The two inscriptions are bookended by six-pointed stars. The mintmark “S” appears above the Y of TWENTY, below the crossing of the plant stem and arrow fletching.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue:  1875
Denomination: Twenty Cents (USD)
Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 1,155,000
Alloy: .900 Silver, .100 Copper
Weight: 5.00 g
Diameter: 22.00 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: William Barber
REV Designer: William Barber
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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