David Akers (1975/88): The 1854-S is a very scarce date in all grades. Until the past five or six years it was virtually unobtainable in high grade and almost all known specimens graded only VF or EF. But in the mid-1970's a small group of "saltwater uncs" was discovered and all the high grade specimens of this date that have appeared at auction recently have been from that group. (PCGS CoinFacts editor's note: remember this was written by David Akers in 1982, long before the SS Central America treasure hoard, which contained quantities of 1854-S, 1855-S, 1856-S, and 1857-S twenties). The saltwater coins are all mint state but they have varying degrees of the subdued lustre that is characteristic of coins that have been submerged for a long time in saltwater. Actually many of the coins from this group have faint obverse and reverse die cracks. There is only one choice original (not saltwater) unc that I know of and I have seen only a few strictly graded, original AU's. There is one proof known, undoubtedly the first specimen struck, and it is in the Mint Collection in the Smithsonian Institution. It is a very choice quality coin and, in my opinion, it is easily the most significant and desireable branch mint proof coin in existence.
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