The Liberty Seated Dollars

The Liberty Seated Dollar was the coin that succeeded the Draped Bust Dollar, particularly the 1804 Draped Bust Heraldic Eagles. It was in the year 1840 when the nation’s coinage system was all about Silver and Gold coins, and when paper money was still considered worthless by the public. And so, the US Mint worked hard to create a Silver Dollar Coin that will be used in the circulation.

Robert Maskell Patterson, the US Mint Director back then have always been a huge admirer of the British Copper Coinage – particularly the Seated Brittania. with this, he envisioned a new Silver Dollar Coin that would truly embody an emblematic portrait of Lady Liberty. Thus, he went to work and employed Thomas Sully, a renowned portrait painter to create the design for the new Miss Liberty similar to that of that Seated Brittania.

Sully obliged and began to create sketches of Miss Liberty while she sits on a rock while wearing a gorgeous Grecian robe. On her right arm, she is holding a pole with a small Liberty Cap on the top, while her left arms can be seen supporting a Union shield where the legend Liberty is inscribed on a scroll.

Once the sketch is done, Christian Gobrechtm the US Mint Engraver Assistant went to work and used Sully’s portrait of Miss Liberty to make it suitable for coinage. These were used in bass-relief art and the design appeared on some dimes, half-dimes, quarters, dollars, half-dollars and 20 cents minted from 1836 up until 1891.

The final design used for the Liberty Seated Dollar was Miss Liberty having a rounded head and her right long arm dangling while her left arm appears to be remarkably shorter. Patterns for the Liberty Seated Dollars in 1836 and 1839 have the artist’s signature but bearing no stars on the obverse. As for the reverse’s original design, a magnificent Eagle is featured flying in a plain or starry sky. Unfortunately, the No Motto Silver Dollar Coin that was minted during 1840-1865 replaced the flying Eagle with one that has a shield on its chest and dropped wings. Miss Liberty is seen seated with 13 stars surrounding her and the date placed below.

The No Motto Seated Liberty Dollar do no bear the IN GOD WE TRUST motto just yet. Each coin bears the mintmark of the Mints that produced them: those minted in Philadelphia bears no mint mark, those minted in the San Francisco Mint has the mintmark S while those made in New Orleans has the mintmark O. The series consists of 2,895,673 pieces of coins struck.

Starting 1866, the Seated Liberty Dollar was minted with the motto In God We Trust. The reason behind this was US Mint Director James Pollock received a letter sent by Salmon P. Chase, current US Mint Director at that time. The letter by Chase suggested that all US Coins bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST as a form of recognition of deity.

Wasting no time, Pollock set to work and had patterns created with the suggested motto. He sent these to Secretary Chase together with a letter suggesting that the motto is shortened to GOD, OUR TRUST. Pollock felt the idea was concise, and suggested that the placement of the motto be placed on the just above the eagle, within a scroll on the reverse side of the coin.

Half dollars, as well as Eagles, were struck in patterns bearing the motto GOD OUR TRUST with dates 1861 and 1862. More patterns were minted from 1863-1865 bearing the mottos GOD OUR TRUST, IN GOD WE TRUST and GOD AND OUR COUNTRY.

Finally, in 1865, Secretary Chase approved a motto. IN GOD WE TRUST appeared on US Coins and finally, the Seated Liberty Dollar was minted with the said motto after the Mint Act of March 3, 1865, authorized this on Gold and Silver Coins.

Seated Liberty Dollars with Motto were minted from 1866 up to 1873. The obverse features Miss Liberty seated on a boulder while supporting a shield of the union on her right hand and the word LIBERTY inscribed on it. She was holding a pole on her left hand where a Liberty cap is topped. She was surrounded by a total of 13 stars.

On the other side of the coin, an Eagle is seen with its wings outstretched. It has the union shield placed on its chest while grasping a single olive branch on one talon and three arrows on the other. Surrounding the Eagle above is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination ONE DOL. Below the Eagle. Those US Mints that bear their respective mintmarks can be seen directly below the Eagle.

This design bears a powerful message. Freedom is reflected in the Liberty cap while the unity of the nation is marked by the Union Shield while the motto IN GOD WE TRUST is the religious statement that is equivalent to a prayer.

Those Seated Liberty Dollars bearing the Motto may have low mintages but were nevertheless used well by the public. according to records, 3.6 million pieces of the Seated Liberty Dollars with Motto were minted while 6.060 pieces of proof coins were produced. By 1873, the US Coinage System was standardized with Gold Coins, where the Coinage Act of 1873 was named The Crime of ’73.

The Seated Liberty Dollars were made up of 90% Silver and 10% Copper. They have reeded edges, weighs about 26.73 grams and are 39 millimeters in diameter.

The Four Types of Seated Liberty Dollars

Type 1 Flying Eagle Reverse with Stars Seated Liberty Dollars

The first Seated Liberty Dollars minted in 1836 features a flying Eagle surrounded by strategically placed stars on the reverse side of the coin. These were all proof coins that were the original designs made by Gobrecht.

1836 Original – Coin Alignment Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1836 Original – Medal Alignment Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

Type 2 Flying Eagle Reverse with no Stars Seated Liberty Dollars

Only one Proof was minted with the reverse featuring no stars. The Eagle on the 1839 Seated Liberty Eagle was a bit more conservative – an adaptation from the Gold Coins issued in earlier years.

1839 Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 300 coins were minted in Philadelphia

Type 3 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars

Designed by Christian Gobrecht for the US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1865-1$-Seated Liberty (no motto), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

Regular-strike coins were finally issued in 1840 up until 1865 bearing no motto. This was the first large-scale minting of Seated Liberty Dollars with a design parallel of the other earlier issues – Seated Miss Liberty is surrounded with 13 stars while the Eagle on the reverse side of the coin no longer has the scattered stars.

Regular Strikes

1840 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 61,005 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1841 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 173,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1842 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 184,618 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1843 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 165,100 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1844 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 20,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1845 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 24,500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1846 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 110,600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1846-O No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 59,000 coins were minted in New Orleans

1847 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 140,750 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1848 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 15,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1849 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 62,600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1850 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 7,500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1850-O No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 40,000 coins were minted in New Orleans

1851 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,300 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1852 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,100 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1853 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 46,110 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1854 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 33,140 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1855 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 26,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1856 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 63,500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1857 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 94,490 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1859 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 255,700 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1859-O No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 360,000 coins were minted in New Orleans

1859-S No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 20,000 coins were minted in San Francisco

1860 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 217,600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1860-O No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 515,000 coins were minted in New Orleans

1861 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 77,500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1862 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 11,540 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1863 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 27,200 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1864 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 30,700 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1865 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 46,500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

Proofs

1840 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1841 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1842 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1843 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1844 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1845 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1846 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 20 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1847 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1848 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1849 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 15 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1850 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 20 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1851 Restrike No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 35 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1852 Original No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 3 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1852 Restrike No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 35 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1853 Restrike No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 12 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1854 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 30 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1855 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 60 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1856 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 50 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1857 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 50 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1858 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 300 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1859 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 800 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1860 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 1,330 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1861 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 1,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1862 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 550 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1863 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 460 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1864 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 470 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1865 No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1866 No Motto No Motto Seated Liberty Dollars (Proof) – a total of 3 coins were minted in Philadelphia

Type 4 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars

Designed by Christian Gobrecht for the US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1873-1$-Seated Liberty (motto), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

The last type of Seated Liberty Dollars were minted with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST located on a ribbon on the reverse side of the coin.

Regular Strikes

1866 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 48,900 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1867 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 46,900 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1868 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 162,100 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1869 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 423,700 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1870 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 415,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1870-CC With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 12,462 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1870-S With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 15 coins were minted in San Francisco

1871 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,074,760 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1871-CC With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,376 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1872 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,105,500 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1872-CC With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 3,150 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1872-S With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 9,000 coins were minted in San Francisco

1873 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 293,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1873-CC With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 2,300 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1873-S With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 700 coins were minted in San Francisco

Proofs

1866 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 725 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1867 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 625 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1868 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1869 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1870 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 1,000 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1871 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 960 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1872 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 950 coins were minted in Philadelphia

1873 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars – a total of 600 coins were minted in Philadelphia

Collecting Seated Liberty Dollars

All Seated Liberty Dollars can be considered as a numismatic treasure. In collecting Seated Liberty Dollars, some of the rarities include 1851, 1852 and 1858 With Motto Seated Liberty Dollars. When grading Mint State Seated Liberty Dollar coins, most have either abrasions, bag marks and even softly struck coins.

The places to look for signs of wear are Miss Liberty’s hair above the eye, her breast, and her right leg. Silver coin collectors usually collect Seated Liberty Dollars as type coins for the reason that most of these are hard to fin at affordable prices. Most collectors will have No Motto and With Motto variants.

The price ranges from $130.00-$250,000.00 for PCGS-graded Seated Liberty Coins. All Carson City minted coins are considered the keydates for the Seated Liberty Collars: 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1872-CC and 1873-CC.

References:

PCGS, PCGS Coinfacts, NGC Coin, US Coin Values Advisor, Coin Facts