Dollars – Liberty Seated Dollar With Motto, 1866-1873

The With Motto Seated dollar was the third of the type, following both the initial Gobrecht dollar with its dramatic soaring eagle on the reverse and the No Motto Liberty dollar. As the nation moved closer to open conflict in the early 1860s, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase received a suggestion from a Pennsylvania minister that a religious motto be added to the nation’s coins. Secretary Chase asked Mint Director James Pollock to develop plans for implementing a suitable representation of this sentiment on America’s coins. Several alternatives were proposed, including GOD AND OUR COUNTRY, GOD IS OUR SHIELD, and GOD OUR TRUST. Chase selected the now-familiar IN GOD WE TRUST.

Appearing first on the two-cent coin, the Mint Act of 1865 authorized the placement of the motto on silver and gold coins. It was added to the Liberty Seated dollar in 1866. Though mintages of the No Motto dollar exceeded one million coins twice, year by year mintages were erratic because coins were produced at the Mint specifically at the request of depositors of silver bullion. Many of the coins continued to be shipped overseas for silver content regardless of the face value. Seated dollars ended by an act of omission; no additional domestic dollars were authorized in the Coinage Act of 1873, which instead created the Trade dollar for export trade.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

The obverse of the Liberty Seated dollar displays Liberty seated on a rock in Classical flowing robes, head turned toward her right (viewer’s left). Her left arm is bent, raised hand holding a liberty pole with a cap. The right arm is extended downward at her side, with the hand balancing a shield across which the word Liberty is displayed in a curving banner. Thirteen six-point stars surround the seated figure inside a denticled rim with seven on the left side, one between Liberty’s head and the cap, and the remaining five along the right. The date is centered at the bottom between the base of the rock and the rim. On the reverse, an eagle is prominently displayed inside a denticled rim. The eagle’s wings are partially spread but folded downward at the joint as if the majestic bird had just landed or perhaps instead is preparing to fly off. An olive branch is in the dexter claw (viewer’s left); the sinister claw clutches three arrows. A banner displaying IN GOD WE TRUST twists above the eagle’s head below UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, which encircles the top two-thirds of the coin inside the rim. The ONE DOL. denomination is centered at the bottom. Most were minted at Philadelphia; branch Carson City (CC) and San Francisco (S) mintmarks are located below the eagle, above the denomination.

Mintages of the Liberty Seated dollar varied extensively year by year, from a low of 12 from San Francisco in 1870 to over one million in 1871 and 1872. Census/population reports shown several thousand business strike grading events, mostly between XF to near-Mint state; few have graded Gem or higher, none above MS67. Some prooflike coins have been certified. No Proofs were made for about half of the With Motto years with several hundred to a high of 1,000 coins in the remainder. The highest-certified Proof grade is PR69. Approximately two dozen varieties are known in both business strikes and Proofs, most of minor punching variations or die combinations. Prices for business strikes are below those of the No Motto coins, achieving approximate parity at MS63, with some key exceptions. The very rare 1870-S is a set stopper for most collectors and Carson City dates (1870, 1871, 1872, 1873) command price multiples of up to fifteen times their more humble Philadelphia counterparts. With Motto Proofs are roughly equivalent in price to the to non-key business strikes at the same grade. Several dozen cameo and deep cameo Proofs have been certified, showing modest price premiums that increase at top grades.


Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Circulation Mintage: high 1,105,500 (1872), low 12 (1870-S, estimated; none for 1873-S)
Proof Mintage: high 1,000 (1870), low 600 (1868, 1869, 1873; none for 1870-S, 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1872-S, 1872-CC, 1873-S, and 1873-CC)
Denomintion: $1.00
Diameter: ±38.1 mm, reeded edge
Metal content: 90% Silver – 10% copper
Weight: ±26.73 grams
Varieties: Several known, though not extensively collected.

Additional Resources :

Coin Encyclopedia:
A Buyer’s Guide to Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States. Q. David Bowers (author), John Dannreuther (editor). Zyrus Press.
The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. R.S Yeoman (author), Kenneth Bressett (editor). Whitman Publishing.
A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Q. David Bowers. Whitman Publishing.
The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Q. David Bowers. Whitman Publishing.
The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Don Taxay. Arco Publishing
Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Walter Breen. Doubleday.


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