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The Full Date 1855-D Gold Dollar

By Doug ……

CoinWeek Content Partner

As part of the Auraria Collection of Dahlonega gold coinage, I recently had the pleasure of selling one of just four known Uncirculated 1855-D gold dollars to a collector in the Upper Midwest. Graded MS61 by PCGS, this coin exhibits an especially sharp strike for the date, with all four digits 100% detailed.

Interestingly, this is the sole 1855-D that has been designated as “Full Date” by PCGS. The other three Uncirculated 1855-D gold dollars graded PCGS/CAC MS64+, PCGS MS64, and PCGS MS62. The first has a Full Date, while the second and the third show a Weak Date.

The Full Date 1855-D Gold Dollar

This is the third time I’ve sold this coin since 2003 as I’ve placed it, previously, in the Vasquez Rocks Collection of gold dollars, and earlier in the Green Pond Collection. For all three individuals I’ve sold this coin to, a key factor in the successful transaction was the clarity of the date.

How rare is this variation? I believe that of the 75 to 100 known 1855-D gold dollars, there are an estimated dozen or so known. Just for kicks, I went through auction records of all the straight-graded 1855-D dollars sold since 2010. Of the 31 records of sale, 10 were Full Date coins while 21 were Weak Date coins. But this is misleading, as at least two of the Full Date coins have been offered multiple times since 2010. As far as I can tell, there were around six distinct coins with a Full Date.

Then I went through the DWN database, which also covers the last 10+ years. During this time, I’ve sold nine coins: four Full Date and five Weak Date. However, this ratio doesn’t factor in my personal bias towards Full Date coins versus the less desirable Weak Date pieces.

There are two die varieties for the 1855-D, as follows:

1855-D $1.00 VARIETY 7-I
1855-D $1.00 VARIETY 7-I
  • Winter 7-I: Quickly identifiable by the position of the second 5, which is fully below the A in DOLLAR. Always seen with extensive clashmarks from the reverse on the obverse.
1855-D $1.00 VARIETY 7-J
1855-D $1.00 VARIETY 7-J
  • Winter 7-J: Quickly identifiable by the position of the second 5, which is slightly right of the A in DOLLAR.

The first variety is at least three times as scarce. More importantly, only Variety 7-I shows the early die state Full Date coins.

There are at least three die states for Winter 7-J. On the first, there is some weakness (mainly on the 8). On the second, the weakness is more extensive, with considerable weakness seen on the 8 that extends up to the LL in DOLLAR. On the third, the 8 in the date is barely visible or not all, while the OLL in DOLLAR is now very weak.

In the past, I have written that there are fewer than 10 1855-D Full Date dollars known. I now think this figure is slightly low, with perhaps 12 or a few more known. This includes the two Uncirculated pieces I mentioned above, as well as four or five in AU and another four to six in Extremely Fine.

Now that PCGS is designating Full Date coins, I believe that these will become far more desirable than their Weak Date counterparts and that they will command a significant premium.

But how much? My guess is that a more affordable collector-grade 1855-D Full Date–say, in EF45–will eventually sell for as much as a 50% premium. The more expensive higher-grade pieces will see a smaller premium due to the high cost of entry.

With the Dahlonega market now showing a lot more tolerance for strong variety premiums (as long as they are recognized by NGC or PCGS), my gut says that premiums for the 1855-D gold dollar will increase if they continue to be designated by the two major services and collectors can see for themselves the improved aesthetics of a Full Date versus a Weak Date.
Doug Winter Numismatics, specialists in U.S. gold coins


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Doug Winter
Doug Winter
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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