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1849 "No L," Open Wreath Gold Dollar. Only 1,000 minted!

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Here is a chance to own a rare and historic coin at a reasonable price.


In 1849 James Longacre faced a major challenge. He was required to produce a credible design for the tiny one dollar gold coin. Longacre who was not an experienced die maker had many problems working with the tiny dies. At one point the obverse die broke while he was working on it, and he had restart the engraving of the die from scratch.


In addition there were rumors that one or more mint employees who were jealous of Longacre’s position as Chief Engraver, were sabotaging his work at night. At one point Longacre even engraved a couple of sample coins so that prototypes could be shown to members of Congress.


Finally on May 8, 1,000 gold dollars were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, this is one of those coins. These coins were distinctive because the head of Ms. Liberty was smaller than the ultimate design that appeared on the later coins, and Longacre did not at his initial “L” to be bottom of the bust. There is also a difference in relationship between the stars and the bust. This is most obvious when compared the relationship between the high point of Ms. Liberty’s crown to star that is above and to the left of it. When one views the obverse with a 10X glass, it is obvious that several of the stars have been re-cut.


Soon after the mint began to strike these coins the reverse die started to break apart. Ultimately two large cracks formed across the reverse from the “T” in “UNITED” to the “A” in “AMERICA and from the “A” in “STATES” to a spot about a quarter of the across on the first crack. The coin offered here shows the crack beginning to form at the “T.”


NGC has graded this coin MS-63, and it is quite attractive for the grade. There are only a few light marks and the luster is strong on both sides with no spots or copper stains. The price is $1,750.00 plus $10 shipping. This variety is noted in a footnote in the Red Book with the notation that it is valued higher. It is priced in “Coin Prices” magazine at $2,500. If you are interested in this piece, please email me at billsnotes@tampabay.rr.com.




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