Ron Guth: In 1849, the Mint introduced a new denomination as a response to private coiners (such as the Bechtlers of Georgia) and a huge influx of gold from California. The designer of the new Gold Dollar was James Barton Longacre (better known for his Indian Head Cents). As a proud papa of the new coin, Longacre added a tiny initial "L" to the front of the coin, in the truncation line at the bottom of Liberty's bust, where everyone could see it (at least, those with good eyesight). However, the initial does not appear on all of the dies of 1849, thus creating the "No L" and the "With L" varieties of this year. A similar event occurred in 1909, when Victor David Brenner placed his initials "V.D.B." at the base of the reverse of the new Lincoln Cent. However, Brenner's placement of his initials was perceived generally as being too presumptuous, and the initials disappeared from the second round of Cents in 1909. The ommision of Longacre's initial was not the result of public outrcy, but simply an oversight.
In the real world of numismatics, there are few collectors of minor die varieties in the gold series. However, because of its listing in the GUIDEBOOK and other coin catalogs, the "No L" variety remains reasonably popular. According to the PCGS Population Report (as of April 2012), the "No L" variety is a third as common as the "With L" varieties. Mint State examples of the "No L" are fairly common in grades from MS-62 to MS-64, they become scarce in MS-65, rare in MS-66, and extremely rare in MS-67 (where PCGS has certified only 2 examples).
© 1999-2017 Collectors Universe NASDAQ: CLCT