Why Gobrecht and Liberty Seated Dollars Should Be Collected

Why Gobrecht and Liberty Seated Dollars Should Be Collected

Gobrecht And Liberty Seated Dollars (1836-1873)

The Gobrecht silver dollar  of 1836-1839 is the most collected design amongst the series. The last time the silver dollar was coined was in 1804 from the dies of earlier dates, there were 19,570 coins minted. The stop of the coins mintage was official on May 1, 1806 and was due to nearly all of them being exported. After that the new silver dollar would be the Gobrecht Dollar minted in 1863.

Gobrecht Dollar (1836-1839)

Silver Dollars Minted

In 1836 the Liberty Seated dollar witch had liberty on the obverse of the coin and a flying eagle on the reverse. This coin is called the Gobrecht dollar today. The coin was struck on a hand operated press and in december 1836 they coined 1,000 mirrored proofs. It wasn't until December of that same year that the newspapers got word of the new coin and started to release their stories. Depictions of the coin will say she is sitting on a rock but this is actually up for debate. The so-called rock could just be parts of her drapery, early sketches of the coin have her sitting on a bench. The coins were sent to the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania and other smaller denomination banks where the coin was then put into circulation and used extensively. With a weight of 416 grains the and some complained about the coin being too metallic. In 1838 stars were added on the obverse on the edge of the coins; they also added reeds. Gobrecht took off his signature on the coin before it was minted. Medalists will put their signichers but coin engravers from the US at least do not usually sign their work. It wasn't until the spring of 1859 that restricts in silver were made. Nearly all 1838 to 1839 Gobrecht  dollars  in the hand of collectors will be restricted or even novodels. 

Die Alignments

Die Alignment I: on the reverse the alignment is 180 degrees from the obverse the eagle is flying upward the words ONE DOLLAR are centered. The 1836 original dated stikes will usually be in this format

Die Alignment II: the reverse and obverse will be the same, the eagle is going on word and upward the ONE DOLLAR is still centered. 

Die Alignment III:the reverse is almost inverted, the eagle is flying horizontally, the ONE DOLLAR is in the lower right. The 1859 will bear this format 

Die Alignment IV: the reverse is inverted, the eagle is upside down this is We caused from the dye not being properly secured.

Pattern Gobrecht Dollars 

1836 (J-58 and 59)

1836 (J-60)

1836 (J-61 and 62)

1836 (J-63 and 64)

1836 (J-65 and 66)

1838 (J-84, 85, and 87)

1838 (J-88 and 89)

1839 (J-104, 105, and 107)

1839 (J-108 and 109) 

US Mint Shenanigans

1859 through the 1870s is when most of the pattern coins above were made also where thousands of other rare coins were made in secret . Most of the coins were sold to local dealers named William K. Idler after his death they were sold to his son in law John W. Haseltine. In the early 1900s Haseltine actually revealed a lot of patterns that were previously not known to exist. 

In 1859 the meat had become very secretive so much so that a member from the numismatic society wrote a letter to James Pollock the current mint director at the time. In the letter it explains how the mint was making secret patterns and selling them to selective dealers which in turn then sold the patterns for an outrageously high price. The director wrote back and basically said that the problem would be taken care of and that more care would be used when Distributing patterns. Even though this was done the patterns still ended up on auction and surprised everyone with their existence.

The 1836 “Name Below Base” Illusion

The Numismatist of January 1909 had an article by Edgar H. Adams called “Beautiful Coin Type by a Calico Engraver” that talks about the illusion. Mr Gobrecht Instructed by the mint director to prepare dies for silver dollars. At first he was hesitant to create the design because he had never done the designing of a coin before only the engraving but nonetheless he created some dies. When his coins made their first appearances they were met with favorable comments and really no criticism except for the placement of his name on the coin and in such a conspicuous position. Gobrecht Soon after removed his name from the coin but the director of the mint was pleased with his work and directed him to place his name back on the coin.  He did obey the mint directors order to put his name back on the coin but decided to place it at the base of the figure of Liberty where it can only be detected with close inspection.

Distribution of Gobrecht Dollars

Most of the Gobrecht Dollars that were struck in December 1836 were put into circulation at their face value. A good majority of them 600 in total got sent to the bank of the United States of Pennsylvania with 400 being kept at the Mint and later distributed to people like the Secretary of the Treasury. In the beginning of the 1850s numismatics was becoming popular and at the same time the silver dollar was not being circulated due to the silver price Rising making them worth more than their face value. Most of the dollars were exported but the Gobrecht dollar was saved in the hundreds by the numismatics of the time and because of this most of the Gobrecht  dollars we see today come from that rescue. 

Grading Gobrecht Dollars

  1. Graded PF-65: A good majority of proofs have been extensively cleaned and we'll have lots of hairlines and dullfields. This applies more to 1836 as opposed to 1839.The grades will be PF-60 through 62. If it has medium hair lines and also a good reflectivity you might be able to see a grade ofPF-64.  There are some rare gems of PF-65 And we'll have very few hair lines. If the grade is PF-66 it should have hairlines so small that  magnification will be needed to even see them.
  2. Graded PF-58: There will be some light wear on the bosoms, knees, head, and thighs. AU-58 the luster will be extensive but incomplete and there will be friction on the field.On the reverse the where will be more evident on the Eagles breast and also on the top of its wings.
  3. Graded PF-45: There will be further wear On all areas of the coin especially omni's size bosom and head. The word LIBERTY  will have a weak Center. Most of the coins at this grade are the 1836 issues. On the reverse there will be further wear On the closest Wing on the top of the furthest wing and also on the tail.
  4. Graded PF-20: There will be further wear  on all areas of the coin with many details worn away; the detail in the hair is mostly gone but detail in the shield somewhat Still Remains. The word LIBERTY will have wear mainly in the center. On the reverse the eagle will have about 60% of its feathers visible.

What To Know When Buying Gobrecht Dollars

Something that is present with almost every coin is to not rely heavily on the grade. you should be looking at sharpness and if it was a clean strike. You should be looking for eye appeal. A coin that is beautiful to the eye with a Lower grade is better than a lifeless coin with a higher Grade. The grading services will pay little attention to the beauty of the coin or its eye appeal but collectors and buyers will. Another thing that I would look for is interesting variants that a good portion of the public is not aware of such as misplaced dates and re-punches although I would advise you to research them before making a purchase. For circulated coins I would avoid coins with scratches and nicks. 

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