By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com ……
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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About Doug Winter
Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was 10 years old, buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.
In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare US Gold coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.
Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award-winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and a recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and an exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins have made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought-after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality, and fair and honest pricing. Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small. He can be reached at (214) 675-9897.
Doug has been a contributor to the Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Red Book”) since 1983, 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.
In addition, he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:
- Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
- Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
- Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
- The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
- Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
- An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
- The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
- A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
- The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
- Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
- Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis
Finally, Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.