David Akers (1975/88): The 1881 is the first of a run of seven ultra low mintage issues from the Philadelphia Mint. Overall, the 1881 is almost identical in rarity to the lower mintage 1885 and just a little less rare than the 1886. In AU or Unc., however, the 1881 is possibly the rarest of the three. (The same might be said for the 1886 but one thing is for certain, the 1885 is the most common of the three in high grade.) The 1881 is not quite as rare as the proof-only 1887 or 1882, and, of course, it is also not as rare as the 1883 or 1884. Most known 1881's grade EF or so and always have a prooflike or partially prooflike surface. A few AU's are known and there is one Unc-60 example in a Texas collection. I have neither seen or heard of a choice or gem mint state example and the Texas coin may be the only known unc.
American Numismatic Rarities 3/2004:1667, $39,100 - Heritage 4/2014:5837, $152,750
Kutasi Collection - Heritage 1/2007:3203, $138,000 - Baltimore Collection - Heritage 10/2008:3091, $138,000 - Heritage 4/2009:2762, $120,750
Donald E. Bently Collection - Heritage 1/2014:5550, $111,625
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