1870-S $1 MS (PCGS# 6965)

The August 2010 Boston Rarities Sale

  • Auctioneer:
    Bowers & Merena
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Lot Description
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">Discounting the unknown 1873-S, the 1870-S is the rarest issue in the Seated Dollar series of 1840-1873 and, indeed the rarest regular issue Silver Dollar of any type. With only <strong>nine </strong>examples positively confirmed, the 1870-S Seated Dollar is also one of the leading rarities in the entire United States coinage family. It is rarer than the world-renowned 1804 Dollar –15 examples of which are confirmed in three distinct classes, plus four Mint-made electrotypes. It is also rarer than the MCMVII (1907) Ultra High Relief Saint-Gaudens Double (approximately 20 pieces known) and equally as rare as the 1894-S Barber Dime (nine examples traced). In fact, such is the importance of the 1870-S Seated Dollar in U.S. numismatics that the issue has been honored with the #84 ranking in the 2005 book <i>100 Greatest U.S. Coins</i> by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. (As an interesting aside, the 1870-S is even rarer than the 1933 Double Eagle, although only if we include the 10 1933 Double Eagles that were seized by the federal government in 2004. Those 10 1933 Double Eagles are currently illegal to own.)<br /><br /> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">The 1870-S is also one of the most enigmatic issues in U.S. numismatics. Federal records do not include a mintage for the 1870-S, and we are unaware of any other official documentation pertaining to this issue. According to traditional numismatic wisdom, the creation of these coins is connected to the construction of the second San Francisco Mint building. Completed in 1874 and now widely known as the “Granite Lady,” the cornerstone for the second Mint building was laid on May 26, 1870. In the 1988 book <i>Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins</i>, the author states:<br /><br /> <p style="margin-left: 1in;">…it is possible that [the 1870-S Seated Dollars] were made for presentation purposes at the celebration at the cornerstone of the new Mint building (the “Granite Lady
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