In 1864, the Civil War raged on, with severe consequences both on the battlefield and in commerce. The greenback could not hold its value and Confederate currency was worth next to nothing. Even the stalwart gold dollar fell victim to the war, with the US Mint producing just 5,900 circulation strikes and 50 proofs for the year.
Many gold dollars found their way across the ocean and ended up in foreign hands. Business strikes were used to satisfy foreign obligations and to buy goods in the export trade or to pay certain bondholders. Virtually none circulated, so today — although rare in all conditions — a proportionately large percentage of surviving 1864 gold dollars are in Uncirculated condition. Several of the Mint State pieces may have come back to U.S. shores from small hoards found abroad.
To be sure, 1864 gold dollars are rare in Gem or better condition. In near-perfect MS69, such as the NGC-graded coin we are offering in our January 31 – February 3 Long Beach Signature Auction, they are of highest rarity. PCGS and NGC have each graded one coin for the date in MS69.
This jewel-like gold dollar, previously in the Akers Collection, is exceptional for its gorgeous reddish-gold and lilac color, semi-prooflike fields, and vibrant mint luster. The strike demonstrates pinpoint sharpness in all aspects, including the few faint remnants of die clashing that appear solely on the obverse around Liberty’s headdress and, to a lesser extent, on Liberty’s frosted portrait. Several raised dots near Liberty’s ear may be signs of die rust or improperly annealed dies. The surfaces appear flawless with no apparent abrasions. For the entire long-running gold dollar series (1849 to 1889) just 19 pieces are graded MS69 by PCGS and NGC combined.