A key date in the Seated Liberty dollar series, the 1871-CC has the lowest mintage of the four Carson City Mint issues, with only 1,376 struck. In spite of this, more 1871-CCs–many of them in circulated condition–have survived than dates like the 1873-CC. But like much else in numismatics, this fact is relative; PCGS reports 125 examples in all grades below Mint State, and only three in low Mint State. Besides the coin on offer at GreatCollections, there is one additional specimen certified MS-61 and the top pop coin is a solitary MS-64.
One has to go back almost a decade to find auction records for a PCGS MS-61 1871-CC dollar. In August 2012, an example sold for $69,000 USD, but a year earlier in August 2011 one sold for $126,500. Six years prior to that, in July 2005, another coin went for $115,000.
At the time of publication, the high bid for this 1871-CC Seated Liberty dollar is $62,555 after a total of 61 bids.
For more auction results, you can search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.
History of the Carson City Mint
The Carson City Mint was established by Congress in 1863 to refine and coin the silver coming out of the famous Comstock Lode, where one of the largest veins of silver ore in American history had been discovered just years before. The Civil War precluded actual construction of the mint until 1866, by which time Nevada had become a state (1864). Abraham Curry, the first superintendent of the Carson City Mint, oversaw the construction of Alfred B. Mullet’s Renaissance Revival-style brick building.
Producing silver and gold coins, the Carson City Mint began striking coins on February 11, 1870, when the first CC-mint Seated Liberty silver dollars came off Press No. 1. It closed temporarily in 1885, a victim of party politics in Washington, but reopened in late 1889. The facility operated for almost another four years until it closed for good in 1893.
Carson City’s status as an official branch mint was rescinded in 1899 – around the time that the Comstock Lode itself stopped producing. It served as an assay office until 1933 and was sold to the state in 1939 as the home of the newly founded Nevada State Museum.
During its time as a U.S. branch mint, the Carson City facility struck Seated Liberty dimes, Twenty Cent pieces, Seated Liberty quarters, half dollars and dollars, Trade dollars, and Morgan dollars in silver, and Liberty Head $5 half eagles, $10 eagles and $20 double eagles in gold. Several issues from Carson City are considered key dates for their series, such as the 1879-CC Morgan dollar, the 1870-CC Seated Liberty quarter, or the 1870-CC half eagle.
But in general, coins from Carson City–with their connection to the “Old West“–have always held a strong allure for collectors.
The Seated Liberty design was created by Christian Gobrecht, the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint at the time. The Seated Liberty motif appeared on silver dollars from 1840 through 1873.
The obverse of the Seated Liberty dollar has Liberty seated on a rock in Classical flowing robes, her head turned toward the right (viewer’s left). Her left arm is bent, her 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-pointed stars surround Liberty 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 is preparing to launch itself into the sky. An olive branch is in its right claw (viewer’s left) while its left claw clutches three arrows. A banner with the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST twists above the eagle’s head below the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, which encircles the top two-thirds of the coin inside the rim. The denomination ONE DOL. is centered at the bottom. Most With Motto Seated Liberty dollars were minted at Philadelphia; Carson City (CC) and San Francisco (S) mintmarks are located below the eagle, above the denomination.
The edge is reeded.
With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars: A Rough Guide to the Market
Mintages of the Liberty Seated dollar varied extensively year by year, from a low of perhaps 12 from San Francisco in 1870 to over one million from Philadelphia 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. 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.
Approximately two dozen varieties are known in both business strikes and Proofs, most consisting of minor punching variations or die combinations. Prices for business strikes tend to fall below those of No Motto coins, achieving approximate parity at MS63 with some key exceptions (including the 1871-CC offered here). 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 15 times their more humble Philadelphia counterparts. With Motto Proofs are roughly equivalent in price to non-key business strikes at the same grade.