The Survival Estimate represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in three categories: 1) all grades, 2) 60 or better, and 3) 65 or better. These estimates are based on a variety of sources, including population reports, auction appearances, and personal knowledge. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Numismatic Rarity converts the Survival Estimate for a particular coin into a number from 1 to 10 (with decimal increments) based on the PCGS Rarity Scale. The higher the number, the more rare the coin.
Relative Rarity By Type
Relative Rarity By Type ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this Type. Lower numbers indicate rarer coins.
Relative Rarity By Series
Relative Rarity By Series ranks the rarity of this coin with all other coins of this Series. Lower numbers indicate rarer coins.
David Akers (1975/88):
With an average grade of VF-27, the 1855-C has the distinction of having the lowest average grade of any gold dollar. I have never seen a fully mint state piece and even strict AU examples of this date are very rare. Invariably the planchets and the quality of striking are extremely poor, and the date and the word DOLLAR are almost always weak. In fact, the 8 is almost missing on some specimens. Many pieces also show distinct clash marks. Because of the poor planchets and equally poor quality of striking, grading is difficult and one must take note of such characteristics as lustre, quality of surfaces, etc., in order to make an accurate determination of grade.
In 1854, the mint changed the size and the design of the gold dollar. The diameter was increased from 12.7 mm to 14.3 mm. The design, by James B. Longacre, copied the obverse and the reverse of the new Three Dollar gold piece which had been introduced in 1854. The Type Two gold dollar, as it is known to numismatists today, was minted in Charlotte for one year only. The design was totally abandoned in 1856 due to design complications. The obverse proved to be too high to strike properly and the planchets were too thin to bring up all the obverse details during the striking process. As a result, most type Two gold dollars have a very distinctive quality of strike. The 1855-C gold dollar is an extremely popular coin. It is sought by date and type collectors alike. Choice examples are rare and always in great demand.
Usually seen in Very Fine and Extremely fine, this is a very hard issue to grade and is frequently overgraded... In properly graded AU50 To AU53 it is rare, and it is very rare in AU55 to AU58. Up to five known pieces could qualify as Uncirculated by today’s standards, but I have only seen two or possibly three that I regard as such. With the exception of the uncollectible 1849-C Open Wreath this is the rarest Charlotte gold dollar in higher grades.
STRIKE: I have never seen an 1855-C Gold dollar that I would characterize as being well struck. This quality of strike makes the 1855-C gold dollar one of the most difficult United States gold coins to properly grade. Due to the reasons described above, the hair is always flat. It is not uncommon to see an example that is very weak on the plumes and on the hair around the face of Liberty. This weakness often extends to the eye and the ear, making coins with little actual wear appear to be heavily circulated. The word LIBERTY on the headband is often weak and on some coins it is nearly illegible. The obverse lettering looks soft and delicate and the denticles are typically indistinct or missing altogether. On the reverse, the date is usually weak. The 8 can be very faint and the 1 may be as well. The OLL in DOLLAR is usually weak as is the bottom part of the value. The wreath tends to be stronger at the upper part than at the bottom. The reverse denticles are more visible than those on the obverse. They are generally sharp at the right side but weaker at the left.
Approximately 20% of all 1855-C gold dollars show a relatively good strike for the issue with more central detail than usual. These trade at a premium over examples that display the typical weak strike described above.
SURFACES: This issue is plagued by mint-made planchet problems. Many 1855-C gold dollars were struck on extremely poor quality planchets. Most every piece I have seen had considerable planchet roughness and/or granularity. Others have large, detracting planchet flaws. It is also common to see examples with extensive clashmarks on the surfaces. These are often seen in front of Liberty’s face and behind her head. Clashmarks are also seen on the reverse, although not as extensively as on the obverse. The poor quality of the planchet must be taken into account when trying to assign a grade to an 1855-C gold Dollar. Any piece with relatively clean surfaces and only minor problems is quite rare and such coins typically trade for significant premiums over typical examples.
LUSTER: This issue has better luster than one might expect. Original, higher grade pieces show good luster with a frosty texture. Many have been cleaned or dipped at one time and it is extremely hard to find an 1855-C gold dollar that is lustrous and problem-free.
COLORATION: The coloration tends to be considerably different than that found on the Type One issues from the Charlotte Mint. The 1855-C is often a medium to deep orange-gold while many Type One coins have a distinctive green-gold hue. I have seen many 1855-C gold dollars that had artificial or enhanced color; this is often applied to mask underlying hairlines or planchet problems. Examples with attractive original color are very rare.
EYE APPEAL: Any 1855-C gold dollar with even marginally good eye appeal is obviously, very rare. Nearly every piece in existence is irregularly struck, has numerous planchet problems and has been cleaned or enhanced in some way. The quality-conscious collector of Charlotte coinage will have to relax his standards when it comes to this issue.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are die file marks that slant down from the rim through UNIT in UNITED on some pieces. These fade on later die states and may not be visible on lower grade examples.
DIE VARIETIES: There are two die varieties known.
Variety 1 (formerly Variety 9-K): Much of the lettering on the obverse is heavy and it appears to be doubled. The date is closely spaced and it is placed fairly low in the field. The final digit if the date is further to the left than on Variety 2 and it is centered below the A in DOLLAR. The mintmark is small and well centered.
Variety 2 (newly discovered): On this variety, the date is placed further to the right, with the final digit of the date almost entirely below the right base of the A in DOLLAR. This variety was discovered by Heritage cataloger Brian Kollar. He believes that it is more common than Variety 1 based on the number of appearances in Heritage auctions in the past decade.
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