A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that analyzed the recent population figures for Type One Dahlonega gold dollars. As I've done more research on gold dollars for my upcoming third edition Dahlonega gold book, I thought I would share the findings for the Type Two and Type Three issues. Read on for some interesting findings. 1855-D: I had originally estimated that 70-80 pieces were known to exist. I think this number may be just a touch on the low side but not by much. There are four Uncirculated examples known to me. Interestingly all of them have seen their grade change by at least one point (in some cases by two) since I wrote the second edition of my book in 2003. The Duke's Creek/Reed Hawn coin has gone from PCGS MS63 to NGC MS63 to NGC MS64 to PCGS MS64. It remains the finest known. A second coin has also been graded MS64 by NGC (ex Duke's Creek and Bass II: 102). Unfortunately, the dealer who owned this coin a few years ago has failed to turn in the extra tags and the NGC population currently shows three examples in this grade.
It is also interesting to note that both the aforementioned examples have shattered the magical six-figure mark at auction. The Hawn coin brought $143,750 in Stack's January 2009 auction while the Duke's Creek/Bass coin sold for $149,500 as Goldberg 2/07: 2094.
1856-D: If anything, I may have overestimated the total number known when I suggested that 80-90 1856-D gold dollars are extant. The grade distribution has changed but this is due to gradeflation and not a result of new coins coming on the market. Many of the four dozen or so coins I estimated to exist in EF grades have no morphed into AU's. I do know that at least one or two fresh Uncirculated coins have turned-up since 2003 including one nice PCGS MS62 that I was offered privately in around 2005.
My estimate of four to five Uncirculated 1856-D gold dollars is probably just a hair too low and today's number is more like six. I have seen three different coins in PCGS MS62 holders but at least one of these (probably the Duke's Creek: 1488 example) has magically become an NGC MS63. The best I've seen remains Green Pond: 1009 which still holds the all-time auction record for this date at $47,150.
1857-D: I'm not certain why but this date seems more available today than it was a decade ago, especially in About Uncirculated grades. My 2003 estimate of 120-130 known in all grades now seems pretty low; especially given the fact that the combined PCGS/NGC population is 189 as of the end of February 2010. Remarkably, the two services show no less than 28 (!) pieces in Uncirculated with twelve in MS62 and another eight in MS61. I think these numbers are quite inflated but I have seen at least five different PCGS MS62 1857-D dollars.
I'd say that the number of truly Uncirculated 1857-D gold dollars has climbed to six to nine based on today's grading. The best appear to be Duke's Creek: 1489 and Heritage 1/04: 1010 (ex Green Pond). Both are in PCGS MS62 holders.
1858-D: My original estimate of 125-150 known was way too low and the actual number is probably close to double this. The PCGS and NGC population figures seem insnaely high in AU and Mint State grades. NGC, as an example, shows 66 in AU and another 35 in Uncirculated while PCGS has a population of 62 in AU and 25 in Uncirculated.
There is some confusion at the higher end of the Condition Census as well. NGC shows two coins in MS66; one is Duke's Creek: 1490 which was previously graded MS65 by PCGS. There is one other superb coin known, ex Heritage 2/99: 6121. I'm guessing that this, too, has found its way into an NGC MS66 holder. PCGS shows two pieces graded MS65. I would assume that they are the two coins listed above in earlier incarnations and needing de-listing although I don't know this for sure. Remarkably, PCGS shows a population of eight in MS63 while NGC shows another seven in this grade. These figures seem very high as do the 21 graded by PCGS/NGC combined in MS62.
1859-D: My estimates on the 1859-D were too low as well although not as dramatically as for the 1858-D. I think there at least 200-250 known and maybe even as many as three hundred total in all grades. Gradeflation has made many of the old EF coins become AU but my numbers for Uncirculated coins hold up reasonably well. I had estimated that 12-17 were known in Uncirculated. I think the number today is somewhere in the range of 15-25.
Unlike with the 1858-D, there are still no Gem 1859-D dollars known. NGC has graded a single MS65 but it is a former PCGS MS64 and the current PCGS MS64 (ex Heritage 9/05: 4258 and Heritage 1/05: 8482) doesn't seem likely to gain further points on the grading ladder (although you never know...) The current PCGS population figures in MS62 are very inflated and all of the NGC figures from MS61 through MS64 are inflated as well.
1860-D: I still believe the rarity of this date has been overstated. My previous estimate was that 90-100 were known and it is possible that even this range was a bit on the low side. It is possible that as many as 100-125 are known. Many of the coins that used to be regarded as EF's are now AU's (this is a very hard issue to grade properly) and the combined PCGS/NGC figures for AU's is an aggressive eighty-four. In my opinion, this figure is way inflated.
I used to regard the Duke's Creek 1860-D as the finest known. It was in a PCGS MS63 holder back in the early 2000's. It later became an NGC MS64 and when I last saw it in 2007 it looked liked it had mingled with a bag of Cheetos as it was flaming orange in color. This coin still shows up on the PCGS report as an MS63 and twice on the NGC report as an MS64 and I don't think it is either. My old estimate of six to seven known for this date seems accurate to me, even in 2010.
1861-D: My estimate of 55-65 known might be just a bit on the low side. There could be as many as 75 known when you factor in the damaged, cleaned or "no-grade" examples that exist. I had tried to figure these in before with the coins I called "VF" (virtually no problem-free 1861-D dollars exist in grades lower than EF45) but I think the number includesd as many as ten extra problem coins. PCGS and NGC have combined to grade thirty in Uncirculated which makes my estimate of ten to twelve in Mint State seem low. The revised number will have to be raised; maybe even as high as fifteen to twenty.
When I did my last Condition Census for this date in 2003, PCGS had graded five in MS63 and one in MS64. These numbers are remarkably consistent today. There is a second MS64; which was earlier an NGC MS65 and before this a PCGS MS63. The NGC numbers are, as usual, a mess.
In my next article on PCGS/NGC population figures for Dahlonega gold coins I'll be focusing on quarter eagles.