The Vasquez Rocks Collection: Dahlonega Gold Dollars

In the last blog in this multi-part series, I talked about the Philadelphia gold dollars in the Vasquez Rocks Collection. In this second installment, I'm going to focus on a group of coins that are near and dear to me: the Dahlonega gold dollars. The Dahlonega mint began production of gold dollars in 1849. They produced six Type One issues (from 1849 to 1854), a single Type Two (in 1855) and six issues that featured the Type Three design (from 1856 to the closing of the mint in 1861). For all three types, the estimated total mintage is fewer than 75,000 coins.

The individual who formed the Vasquez Rocks collection did something amazing: he formed a complete Uncirculated set of gold dollars from this mint. To the best of my knowledge, the only other collections that had a complete set of Dahlonega gold dollars in PCGS/NGC holders were Duke's Creek (sold by Heritage in April 2006) and Green Pond (sold by Heritage in January 2004 and assembled by me). This statement, of course, doesn't take into account older specialized gold dollar collections such as Ullmer, McNally, Miles and Pierce which were also complete in Uncirculated but which were formed before the days or third-party grading.

Before I get into specifics about the gold dollars in the Vasquez Rocks collection, here are a few interesting facts to ponder:

  • Of the 13 coins in the set, ten have been graded by PCGS and three have been graded by NGC.
  • The highest graded Dahlonega gold dollar in the set is an NGC MS64 (1853-D) and the lowest grade is a PCGS MS60 (1856-D).
  • Two coins (the 1851-D and the 1858-D) have been awarded "plus" grade designations by PCGS.
  • The average grade of a Dahlonega dollar in this set is 61.92; this figure is arrived at by giving the plus coins an extra half a point (i.e, 63+ is figured as 63.5)
  • Coins in this set have pedigrees from such famous collections as Chestatee, Green Pond, and Pittman.

Now, let's get a bit more specific and discuss the coins, type by type.

I.  Type One

There are some outstanding Type One Dahlonega gold dollars in the Vasquez Rocks collection. A complete list is as follows:

  • 1849-D, PCGS MS62
  • 1850-D, NGC MS63
  • 1851-D, PCGS MS63+
  • 1852-D, PCGS MS61
  • 1853-D, NGC MS64
  • 1854-D, PCGS MS62, ex Pittman Collection

It's hard for me to pick a favorite coin from this group, but the piece that I like the best is the 1851-D in PCGS MS63+.

The 1851-D is the second most common Type One gold dollar (after the 1849-D) and there are as many as 20 known in Uncirculated. However, it is very rare in MS63 as evidenced by the PCGS population of four (with only two better). The Vasquez Rocks coin is the only MS63+ currently graded by PCGS and it is a magnificent coin with a bold strike, rich yellow-gold color and delightful frosty luster. It would make a perfect type coin for the collector who is seeking a single higher grade Type One gold dollar from Dahlonega for his collection.

1851-D $1.00 PCGS MS63+

II.  Type Two

The Dahlonega mint produced Type Two gold dollars for just one year. The 1855-D had an original mintage of just 1,811 and there are fewer than 100 known, mostly in lower grades. This is the single rarest gold dollar from this mint in higher grades and there are exactly four known in Uncirculated.

The coin in the Vasquez Rocks collection is graded MS61 by PCGS and it is the fourth finest known 1855-D dollar. It is one of two Uncirculated 1855-D dollars that were once in the Green Pond collection and it has been off the market since early 2004 when it was acquired from the auction by the owner of the Vasquez Rocks collection for $46,000.

Only a small number of 1855-D dollars are known with sharp strikes and an even smaller number have a full date. The Vasquez Rocks coin is exceptionally well struck; so well struck, in fact, that PCGS has designated on the holder that it is a Full Date. Of the four Uncirculated 1855-D dollars, only one other (ex Duke's Creek/Bass) has a Full Date.

In addition to its exceptional strike, this 1855-D has great eye appeal for the issue with a good deal of luster seen on choice surfaces. Both sides have pleasing color and if you have seen many examples of this date, you'll know that it is seldom found with this degree of good looks!

III.  Type Three

The Type Three design was introduced in 1856 and the Dahlonega mint produced six issues before it was closed in 1861.

The Type Three D mint dollars in this collection are as follows:

  • 1856-D, PCGS MS60, ex Chestatee collection
  • 1857-D, PCGS MS61
  • 1858-D, PCGS MS62+
  • 1859-D, NGC MS62
  • 1860-D, PCGS MS62, CAC approved
  • 1861-D, PCGS MS61

Again, it is hard to focus on one coin, given how many outstanding pieces are in this set. I'm sure you expect me to focus on the 1861-D but I'm actually going to discuss the 1860-D, a coin that, to me, is clearly a highlight of this set.

Only 1,566 gold dollars were struck at the Dahlonega mint in 1860 and this is a rare issue in all grades. A dubious distinction held by this date is the fact that it is the worst struck gold dollar from this mint. The coin in the Vasquez Rocks collection, while showing the familiar weak U in UNITED, is among the best made examples of this date that I have seen. It is of just two graded MS62 by PCGS with a single coin better (an MS63 that should be deleted from the population report as it now appears as an NGC MS64). It is nice enough for the grade that it was approved by CAC and it is one of just two examples of this date in MS62 to have received a CAC sticker.

1860-D $1.00 PCGS MS62 CAC

I am hoping that I will be able to keep the Dahlonega dollars from the Vasquez Rocks collection intact and they will be offered, at first, as a set. If no one purchases them intact, the coins will be broken up and, I assume, they will sell quickly.

For more information on the coins in this collection, please feel free to contact me by email at dwn@ont.com. I expect the full Vasquez Rocks collection to be available for sale in a few weeks.