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Pinnacle Rarities Purchases the San Diego Collection of Proof Seated Dollars

- June 7, 2011

Pinnacle Rarities is proud to announce the purchase of the San Diego Collection of Seated Dollars, an amazing grouping featuring 14 of the 16 possible dates from 1858 to 1873.  Selected by an astute California numismatist, each example is an exquisite treasure. Collectively, this accumulation is one of the finest assembled collections of this scarce proof type.  All the specimens are at or near the top of the PCGS population report, with every date chosen for premium eye appeal attributes and original patination.

The Seated series is from a captivating period in both the nation's history and the Mint's.  The series in all its denominations saw at its inception a budding nation pushing west, and during its midlife, the Civil War.  The Seated coin's demise came as we had grown industrially to a nation whose monetary concerns were focused on international trade.  The demand for silver as a unit of foreign trade caused much of the mint state examples to be exported to the Orient.  Many of the proof survivors are more plentiful today than their mint state counterparts.  However, with most mintages under a thousand coins and 150 years of attrition, choice examples of the proofs are quite elusive.

The design was born from desire for new designs that illustrated the technological changes the Mint had undergone.  Steam presses had been employed and new machinery made the processes to create the dies from plaster models greatly improved.  The new Mint Director, Robert Patterson, and Chief Engraver William Kneass both envisioned a new uniform design that would take advantage of the new machinery and ease production restraints for faster production with better quality output.  Design work done previously by Kneass was rejected.  Patterson commissioned Thomas Sully, a renowned painter, to create renderings of a seated motif similar to the Britannia coinage circulating at the time.  Kneass suffered a stroke in 1836 and the Mint turned to Christian Gobrecht, employing him at first as the second engraver.

Gobrecht prepared the dies and dollars were struck for the first time since the early 1800s.  For the obverse of this dollar (now called the Gobrecht dollar), he used Sully's seated rendering.  He modeled the reverse after a sketch by Titan Peale.  This "onward and upward" eagle was replaced for minor coinage and the subsequent dollars that the Mint began producing in 1840.

The numbers produced of the early Seated coins were remarkably low (most in the 15 to 25 coin range).  However, beginning in 1858, proof sets were produced for distribution to the public for the first time.  Mintages rarely got above 1,000 sets and most years, the production was under 600.  Proof dollars are tough in lower grades for most dates starting in 1858, but lower-grade examples appear in auctions and on the bourse floor with some frequency.  The higher-end and gem-plus examples remain extremely scarce and usually trade hands privately.

Pinnacle will be posting available coins on their website inventory page on  For further information, contact Kathleen Duncan at 800-724-7642 or [email protected].

PCGS is a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Article provided by PCGS at

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