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One of the Finest 1855-D Gold Dollars Being Offered on Sept 16th.

1855-D Gold Dollar - Tied Finest Known NGC-MS64Ira and Larry Goldberg will be offering one of the finest Known 1855-D Gold Dollars  in Session 3 of their Pre-Long Beach Auction to be held on Tuesday September 16th.

The true origins of the gold dollar as a denomination lie in John Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. Although a coin of this face value had been proposed on several occasions in the past, and the Bechtlers actually struck examples in North Carolina beginning in the 1830s, Congress did not authorize the United States Mint to produce gold dollars until March 3, 1849.

The primary reason Congress finally relented in that year was because the immense quantities of gold being mined in California forced silver coins out of circulation. Since few people in the United States of the late 1840s/early 1850s placed much trust in paper currency, the gold dollar was seen a logical replacement for the now-absent silver coinage in commercial channels.

This denomination remained in production from 1849-1889, during which time it appeared in three distinct types. (Types 1, 2 and 3) The abolition of the gold dollar was included as part of the Mint Act of September 25, 1890, and it probably resulted from the (by then) long-established unpopularity of the denomination as a circulating medium of exchange.

Supposedly because it was smaller and thicker than should have been, Mint Director Colonel James Ross Snowden ordered the original gold dollar (Type 1) redesigned in 1854 to accommodate an increase in diameter to 15 millimeters. Although Chief Engraver Longacre dutifully carried out this request, his work caused striking problems on this occasion. His Type 2 designs were difficult to strike and wore down rapidly in circulation. These deficiencies affected all issues of this type, and they resulted in its replacement by the Type 3 pieces in 1856 (1857 for the San Francisco Mint).

Due to its brevity, there are only six issues in the Type 2 gold dollar series: 1854, 1855, 1855-C, 1855-D, 1855-O, and 1856-S. The ’55-D is by far the rarest, followed by the ’55-C, ’56-S and ’55-O. Even the “common” 1854 and 1855 are relatively scarce coins in an absolute sense that are quite rare in Mint State from a market availability standpoint.

Perhaps surprisingly for an issue with such a limited original mintage, the 1855-D was struck using two die marriages. The coin being offered, Winter 7-I example (second 5 in date centered beneath A in DOLLAR), is one of the finest-known examples of both varieties, and it is an absolutely stunning representative. The ’55-D typically displays varying degrees of striking irregularity in the center of the reverse that affects several of the letters in DOLLAR and the digits in the date. On this piece, however, one will see a sharply executed reverse strike that qualifies this piece as a Full Date example as defined by Doug Winter. In the 2003 book Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint: 1838-1861, the Winter states,

“Among specialists, full date 1855-D gold dollars trade for a strong premium; in some cases as much as thirty to fifty percent above the price level for a coin with a typical weak date.”

As the only Type 2 gold dollar from the Dahlonega Mint, the 1855-D is an understandably popular coin among collectors. It is also a very rare issue, the original mintage being a mere 1,811 pieces and the total number of survivors probably numbering no more than 70-80 distinct examples. Conditionally rare starting at the Choice EF grade level, Condition Census begins in AU55. The 1855-D is the overall rarest Dahlonega Mint gold dollar after only the 1861-D, and it is prime condition rarity in the D-mint portion of this series.

From Doug Winter’s Article which appeared on CoinLink in July , 2008 titled “THE TOP TEN RAREST DAHLONEGA GOLD COINS – REVISITED” Doug listed the 55-D Gold Dollar first and commented as follows:

“This remains the rarest Dahlonega gold dollar in high grades and it is the second rarest overall with fewer than 100 known. The rarity of this issue with a full date seems to have been exaggerated by me in the first two editions of my book. I would revise the number of 1855-D gold dollars with a full date upwards from “less than a dozen” to around double this amount.

While no new discoveries of note have been recorded, no less than three record prices were recorded between 2006 and 2007. In February 2007, the Goldberg: 2097 example, graded MS64 by NGC, sold for an incredible $149,500; it had sold earlier as Heritage 1/06: 3396 where it brought $109,250. The finest known 1855-D was purchased by a prominent Alabama collector in the Heritage April 2006 sale where it realized $132,250. This coin had previously been graded MS64 by NGC; now it is in a PCGS 64 holder. The only other Uncirculated 1855-D gold dollars, graded MS62 and MS61 by PCGS, sold for $56,350 and $46,000 respectively in the Heritage 2/04 auction. Remarkably, the four finest 1855-D gold dollars all sold at auction between 2004 and 2007(!)”

Pop 3; none finer. Tied for finest graded at either service. (PCGS # 7534).
Click here to view this coin in the Goldberg’s Online Sale 48 – Lot 1220

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