David Akers (1975/88): The 1856-S has the fifth highest mintage of the series and, not surprisingly, the fifth greatest number of auction records in our 238 catalogue auction survey. However, the overwhelming majority of those records are for low grade specimens (116 out of 177 were VF or less) and, indeed, the 1856-S is very difficult to obtain better then EF. In fact, this date is ranked third overall in rarity according to average grade, although it is more obtainable in unc. than the 1854-D, 1865, or the other S Mint three dolalr gold pieces. There are three different size mintmarks on the 1856-S, small, medium, and large. The small S is the same size as on the 1860-S while the large S is the same as on the 1855-S and 1857-S. The most common of the three varieties is the Medium S variety and both the Large S and Small S varieties are rare in any condition.
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