Estimated grade. Ex. Walton; Stacks (1963) Sold by David Akers Numismatics Oct '97 Price realized $1100
David Akers (1975/88): This is one of the rarest of all gold dollars and is extremely difficult to find in high grades. Because of its rarity, it is generally grossly overgraded, and most specimens that I have seen, including those called AU or even Unc., would barely make EF if they had been the more common 1854 Type II or 1855. Most specimens have an extremely weak 8 in the date, and exhibit severe clash marks on both obverse and reverse. Although some cataloguers talk in terms of only a dozen specimens known, there are certainly many more than that. In fact, probably at least twice that many exist, although as I indicated before, most of them are very low grade.Doug Winter: The 1855-D is the second rarest Dahlonega gold dollar and the rarest in high grades. It is very desirable as it combines genuine rarity in all grades with its status of being the only Type Two gold dollar produced at this mint.
The 1855-D gold dollar is rare in all grades. It is most often seen in Very Fine and low end Extremely Fine. It is very rare in nice Extremely Fine-45 and extremely rare in any About Uncirculated grade. There are currently three examples known to exist in Mint State.
STRIKE: The 1855-D shows a below average quality strike. As with most Type Two gold dollars, regardless of the mint at which they were produced, the centers are weakly impressed. On the 1855-D the obverse center is very flat. The hair above the ear and eye of Liberty is especially weak and there are multiple clashmarks around the head of Liberty. Interestingly, the obverse border is sharply detailed with strong lettering and nearly complete milling. On the reverse, the wreath is sharp and the milling is complete except for the 11:00-1:00 area which is often flat. Virtually every known 1855-D gold dollar has a very weak 8 in the date. A few coins exist with full dates (I have seen around six to eight; less than a dozen exist) and these are rare and desirable. Among specialists, full date 1855-D gold dollars trade for a strong premium; in some cases as much as thirty to fifty percent above the price level for a coin with a typical weak date.
SURFACES: The typical 1855-D gold dollar has below average surfaces. This is due to a combination of factors. The foremost of these are the clashmarks which were described above. They can been seen plainly in the obverse fields and on the reverse around the value and the date. Some show mint-made defects while others have extensive marks from circulation. Most have been cleaned at some point and now show hairlines.
LUSTER: Since most examples are well worn, they do not possess mint luster. Those which do retain luster have very rich frost with a slightly satiny texture.
COLORATION: Uncleaned, original 1855-D gold dollars are most often seen with dull green-gold or coppery coloration. There are only a handful that exist with original coloration.
EYE APPEAL: A high grade example of this issue with above average eye appeal is almost unheard of. It is possible to locate a pleasing middle grade piece with minimal defects, but one must expect ample clashmarks and weakness of strike at the centers. In About Uncirculated-50 or above, this is the hardest Dahlonega gold dollar to find with good eye appeal. Any piece that has a decent strike, clean surfaces and good luster trades for a very strong premium among collectors.
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: The Miles-Ullmer example is an example of how difficult it is to grade an 1855-D gold dollar. Through the 1980’s, this coin was offered for sale no less than four times at auction and each time it was graded (and described) differently. I personally owned this coin for a short time in the early 1990’s. It was finally graded Mint State-62 by PCGS in January 1999, which is the grade it should have been all along.
DIE VARIETIES: The entire mintage for this issue was produced in February, 1855. The fact that there are two varieties suggests that, after the first group was produced, problems with the quality of strike forced mint employees to use a second reverse.
Variety 7-I: The date is the same size as seen on the Philadelphia and New Orleans gold dollars from this year. It is low and level with the final 5 located below the left side of the right foot of the A in DOLLAR. The uppermost portion of the right bow points to the right of the ball of the first 5. There is a small mintmark which is placed high in the field and it tilts slightly to the right and which is placed closer to the right ribbon end than to the left. The shape of the mintmark is slightly different than on the next variety with a longer, somewhat more narrow opening. Later die state pieces have a thin die crack at the right of the mintmark and on into the rim.
An example of Variety 7-I is illustrated as Lot 7625 in the Heritage 1999 ANA sale.
Variety 7-J: On this variety, the final 5 in the date ends under the right side of the A in DOLLAR. The uppermost portion of the right bow points to the left side of the ball of the 5.
The mintmark is small and placed slightly lower than on reverse I and does not tilt as noticeably towards the right. The opening is larger and less narrow than on the other variety.
An example of Variety 7-J is illustrated as Lot 7626 in the Heritage 1999 ANA sale.
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