Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 75

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Lot 2116

1855-C. NGC graded MS-61. Nice even gold toning. Only 9,803 struck. Attractive and very scarce. It is plain to see that care was taken in its acquisition, with an eye for detail and historical significance, all of which will redound to the buyer. A bright coin soaking up mint glow on warm orange gold surfaces with nothing to censor it from its refined grade. The only weak spot in the strike is seen at the topmost hair and decorative headdress feathers. This is a trait with most all Type 2 Gold Dollars due to their high relief Liberty head and thin planchets. Problems striking these, especially at Dahlonega and Charlotte branch mints, gave impetus to the Mint to redesign the issue in 1856.

Upon receiving his post to Mint Director in 1853, Colonel James R. Snowden readied plans to modify the gold dollar that James B. Longacre had created in 1849. To this end, Longacre increased the diameter of the denomination from 13 to 15 millimeters and reduced the thickness proportionately. At the same time, he used the opportunity to refashion both the obverse and reverse devices. The chief engraver altered the gold dollar's resemblance to the double eagle when he utilized his replica of the marble Venus Accroupie from the Three-dollar gold piece. The wreath of corn, cotton, maple, and tobacco that Longacre would in due course immortalize on the Flying Eagle cent also made the move from the Three-dollar gold piece to the new gold dollar. Once the Treasury Department agreed to the new design, coinage began on August 19, 1854. Soon, however, daily production runs laid bare the new design's shortcoming: The relief of the obverse motif was too high and Longacre had situated it opposite the highest points of the reverse. This created poor metal flow into the die cavities and even the capable Philadelphia Mint could rarely generate fully struck examples. Most pieces emerged from the Mint with weak devices and rapidly wore down to illegibility. The barely identifiable survivors that the Mint retrieved from circulation were melted as hastily as they had been designed, according to some sources. After two years of production at Philadelphia and token outputs at the branch mints that extended into 1856, Longacre reworked the denomination and created the Type Three gold dollar.

The 1855-C is the rarest collectible gold dollar from the Charlotte Mint in higher grades. A dozen or so accurately graded Aus are known as well as a scattering of Mint State coins; the appearance and poor manufacture of this date make it extremely difficult for any but the grading service experts to grade. This is certainly among the finest 1855-C gold dollars that have been made available to collectors in many years and it is a highlight of the Gold Dollar section, these are rarely ever sold at public auction. Pop 8; 4 finer in 62. (PCGS # 7533) Estimated Value $24,000 - 25,000


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