Old Liberty Half Dollar, 1860-O

Interesting coin: 1860-O Seated Liberty dollar.Its MS-60 price of $1,825 makes it the cheapest Mint State Seated Liberty dollar.It goes to $2,800 in MS-63 and $48,000 in MS-65, but for Seated Liberty money, those are quite low prices with few dates coming near.

New Orleans was notorious for having low Mint State coin supply, notably in 1860 and prior, therefore the 1860-O must raise doubts.The obvious exception is the 1860-O.Though low-mintage, the 1860-O dime is nearly unknown in Mint State.Prices suggest the 1860-O dollar is common.

Reason must exist, and it does.In 1860, silver dollar production was mostly for export.Actually, Seated Liberty dollars had never circulated in any numbers, but in 1860, dollar coins in change were gold dollars.The 1853 silver coin changes lowered the amount of silver in all silver denominations except the dollar, sealing the deal.The goal of making silver dollars after 1853 was to export them.

Early on, it didn't matter because New Orleans didn't create silver money.In 1850 and 1846, New Orleans minted 40,000 and 59,000 silver dollars, but no other silver dollars were created before or after 1853.

Then something odd happened.New Orleans produced 360,000 silver dollars in 1859.That set a New Orleans silver dollar and Seated Liberty dollar total record.In 1860, New Orleans manufactured 515,000 1860-Os.New Orleans produced 875,000 silver dollars in two years after 18 years of 99,000.Clearly, something was odd.

Though we don't know what was going on, the 1860-O and 1859-O were likely exported even with bigger mintages. At least one $1,000 bag was shipped north to Washington in the 1860-O and perhaps the 1859-O.We can say so now since the Treasury vaults may have had a bag or two of Mint State 1860-O and 1859-O instances.

Such bags have been rumored for years.The 1871 and 1872 were stated, but the grading services have allowed us to examine Mint State's Seated dollar supplies.The grading services have not seen every Mint State Seated Liberty dollar and have seen some more than once, but their totals give us some indication of whether certain dates have enough numbers today to suggest a bag or other large hoard.

The bag is most likely to have found the 1860-O, which PCGS has seen 823 times and NGC 492 times in Mint State.The 1859-O has 496 instances of Mint State at PCGS and 314 instances at NGC, while the higher mintage 1871 has 205 instances and 163 instances at NGC, and the 1872 trails at 120 instances and 95 instances.

The 1860-O does not equal a $1,000 bag, but there are additional AU grades.The coins in the supposed bags were sometimes highly bag marked, thus some may have been rejected or given an AU designation

Any 1860-O and 1859-O would have had to be transferred promptly to Washington to survive, as when New Orleans was occupied by Louisiana soldiers in early 1861, any silver dollars would have been used and not kept. The 1860-O is an available date with an intriguing and unique story, making it ideal for a limited-fund collector who desires an engaging coin.

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