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The Full Date 1855-D Gold Dollar

By Doug Winter - December 12, 2022

An 1855-D Gold Dollar with a full date is a rarity, with most examples of this issue exhibiting a weak date. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

I recently had the pleasure of handling one of just four known uncirculated 1855-D gold dollars that had been part of the Auraria Collection of Dahlonega gold coinage. Graded MS61 by PCGS, this coin exhibits an especially sharp strike for the date with all four digits 100% detailed.

Interestingly, this is the sole 1855-D that has been designated as “Full Date” by PCGS. The other three Uncirculated 1855-D gold dollars have been graded PCGS MS64+, PCGS MS64, and PCGS MS62. The first is a Full Date, while the second and the third are a Weak Date.

This is the third time I’ve sold this coin since 2003 as I’ve placed it, previously, in the Vasquez Rocks Collection of gold dollars and earlier in the Green Pond Collection. For all three individuals I’ve sold this coin to, a key factor in the successful transaction was the clarity of the date.

I’ve written about the Full Date 1855-D Dollar before, but I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this issue.

How rare is this variation? I believe that of the PCGS-estimated 80 known 1855-D gold dollars, there are an estimated dozen-plus known. Just for kicks, I went through auction records of all the straight-graded 1855-D Dollars sold since 2010. Of the 31 records of sale, 10 were Full Date coins while 21 were Weak Date coins. But this is misleading, as at least two of the Full Date coins have been offered multiple times since 2010. As far as I can tell, there were around six distinct Full Date coins.

A more typical example of an 1855-D gold dollar bearing the weak date and showing clash marks as well as other distractions. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

Then I went through the Doug Winter Numismatics database, which also covers the last 10-plus years. During this time, I’ve sold nine coins, with four being Full Dates and five Weak Dates. However, this ratio doesn’t factor in my personal bias toward Full Date coins versus the less-desirable Weak Date pieces.

There are two die varieties for the 1855-D, and they are as follows:

  • Variety 7-I: Quickly identifiable by the position of the second “5,” which is fully below the “A” in “DOLLAR.” Always seen with extensive clash marks from the reverse on the obverse.
  • Variety 7-J: Quickly identifiable by the position of the second “5,” which is slightly right of the “A” in “DOLLAR.”

The first variety is at least three times as scarce. More importantly, only Variety 7-I shows the early die-state Full Date coins.

There are at least three die states for Variety 7-J:

  • On the first, there is some weakness mainly on the “8.”
  • On the second, the weakness is more extensive with considerable weakness seen on the “8” which extends up to the “LL” in “DOLLAR.”
  • On the third, the “8” in the date is barely visible (or not all) while the “OLL” are now very weak.

In the past, I have written that there are fewer than 10 known examples of the 1855-D Full Date Dollar. I now think this figure is slightly low, with perhaps 12 or a few more known. This includes the two uncirculated pieces I mentioned above as well as four or five in AU and another four to six in XF.

Now that PCGS designates Full Date coins, I believe that these will become far more desirable than their Weak Date counterparts and that they will command a significant premium. But how much of a premium? My guess is that a more affordable collector-grade 1855-D Full Date (say in XF45) will eventually sell for as much as a 50% premium. The more expensive higher-grade pieces will see a smaller premium due to the high entry cost on entry.

With the Dahlonega-mint coin market now showing a lot more tolerance for strong variety premiums, my gut says that premiums for the 1855-D gold dollar will increase if they continue to be service designated and collectors see for themselves the improved aesthetics of a Full Date versus a Weak Date.

Article provided by PCGS at
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