1851 Liberty Seated Silver Dollar. AU-58 (PCGS).
Key Date 1851 Liberty Seated Dollar
With the date placed high in the field and close to the base of the rock, this coin is readily identifiable as an original striking of the 1851 Liberty Seated dollar. The finish further confirms this attribution, as the restrikes with centered date are known only in proof format. This piece is overall sharply struck, the reverse eagle with bold to crisp delineation throughout the plumage and the obverse with just a touch of softness to the portrait and stars, as so often seen in circulation strike silver dollars of this type. Bold toning in a blend of steel-blue, sandy-gray and silver-apricot patina blankets both sides, the central reverse the lightest and most vibrant portion of the coin. Minimally worn, as befits the assigned grade, and also uncommonly smooth in outward appearance for an AU Seated dollar.
Circulation strike silver dollar production continued to plummet through 1851 due to the vast quantities of gold being mined in California, which led to a sharp increase in the price of silver on the world market and a corresponding reduction in yearly silver bullion deposits at the Mint. The original mintage for the 1851 is a scant 1,300 pieces, down significantly from a total of 7,500 coins struck for the 1850. (The nadir of silver dollar production for the era was actually reached the following year, in 1852, when just 1,100 pieces were struck.) Few, if any of these coins entered circulation at the time, although small quantities dribbled into commercial channels in later years when silver prices stabilized (almost certainly after the period of economic chaos brought about by the Civil War had ended). The limited number of survivors that occasionally find their way into major auctions, as here, were probably set aside during the late 19th century by sharp-eyed bank tellers and others with access to larger quantities of circulating silver dollars. Today, the 1851 is generally regarded as the rarest Philadelphia Mint silver dollar of the Liberty Seated type.