The Vasquez Rocks Collection: Philadelphia Gold Dollars

I am proud to announce that I will soon begin selling the exceptional Vasquez Rocks Collection of gold dollars. This is one of the finest collection of these coins ever formed with virtually every piece grading MS60 or better and many Condition Census examples included. To get you ready for this epic sale, I'm going to produce a series of blogs that deal with the coins on a mint-by-mint basis and which discuss the highlights of the collection. First, let's look at the gold dollars made at the Philadelphia mint. Philadelphia gold dollars were struck without interruption from 1849 through 1889. Three distinct types are known and these are as follows:

  • Type One, 1849-1854
  • Type Two, 1854-1855
  • Type Three, 1856-1889

Let's look take a brief overview of each of these three types and then discuss them relative to the Vasquez Rocks collection.

Type One gold dollars were made at the Philadelphia from the introduction of this denomination in 1849 until the changeover to the Type Two design in 1854 (in 1854, both the Type One and Type Two designs were produced). Type One Philadelphia gold dollars were made in great amounts and they tend to be common, even in higher grades. These issues are popular with type collectors as they tend to come very well struck and nicely produced. Some dates, notably the 1852 and 1853, exist in grades as high as MS68 or MS69(!) and only one, the 1850, is considered to be scarce in Gem.

The highlight of the Philadelphia Type One gold dollars in the Vasquez Rocks collection is a superb PCGS MS66 example of the 1849 Closed Wreath. It has a population of just three in this grade with one finer and the best graded at this service is an MS66+. The Vasquez Rocks coin, shown below, has a razor sharp strike and amazingly clean surfaces with nary a mark visible to the naked eye.

1849 Closed Wreath $1.00 PCGS MS66, Vasquez Rocks Collection

In 1854, the Mint made the decision to change to the Type Two or Small Indian Head design. This proved to be a disaster from a quality standpoint as the design was hard to strike. Many Type Two gold dollars are seen with poor design details at the centers and this is one of the hardest post-1838 United States gold types to locate in MS65 and above.

1854 and 1855 Type Two dollars from the Philadelphia mint are known. These are very common in circulated grades and available without much of a problem in the lower Uncirculated grades.

The 1854-P Type Two dollar in the Vasquez Rocks Collection grades MS61 while the 1855-P Type Two grades MS62. Both have been encapsulated by PCGS.

The Type Three coins begin in 1856 and extend through the end of this denomination in 1889. The Type Three dollars are a fascinating series to collect. While there are no real rarities, many dates are very scarce to rare in higher grades. The key dates are the 1863 and the 1875.

There are a number of highlights among the Philadelphia Type Three dollars in the Vasquez Rocks Collection. A few of the coins that I especially like are as follows:

  • 1856 Slanting 5 PCGS MS66+. One of six graded in MS66 (with two in MS66+) and only four finer.
  • 1857 PCGS MS67.  One of six graded in MS67 with just a single coin finer.
  • 1859 PCGS MS66+. One of seven graded in MS66 (and the only one in 66+) with five finer.
  • 1863 PCGS MS65. One of five graded as such with just two finer. The rarest gold dollar from this mint.
  • 1867 PCGS MS66.  One of three graded as such with one better.
  • 1868 PCGS MS68.  One of two graded as such with one better.
  • 1875 PCGS MS65. One of seven graded with three finer. Only 400 business strikes produced.
  • 1886 PCGS MS67.  One of five graded as such with none finer.

The Type Three coin I'd like to focus on for a minute is the 1875, graded MS65 by PCGS. This is a legendary date for US gold collectors with many of the Philadelphia issues having absurdly low mintages. The 1875-P gold dollar has a tiny mintage of just 400 business strikes and it has been recognized as a key issue for well over a century.

The Vasquez Rocks coin is housed in an old green label PCGS holder and it has dazzling fully Prooflike fields on the obverse and reverse that make it resemble a Proof. It shows the diagnostic thorn-like projection extending down from Liberty's chin that is seen only on business strikes. The coin in this set, which is shown below, is one of the few true Gems that I have seen and it is clearly the nicest that has come onto the market since the  Heritage 2/10: 1427 coin, graded MS66 by PCGS, that brought  $109,250 in furious bidding.

1875 $1.00 PCGS MS65, Vasquez Rocks Collection

The Vasquez Rocks Collection includes many coins that are fresh to the market and it was begun back in the 1980's when superb quality Philadelphia gold dollars were more available than they are today. There are numerous wonderful Gems included and the selection of Type One, Type two and Type Three Philadelphia issues should prove very tempting for the date or type collector.

For more information on the Vasquez Rocks Collection, please contact me via email at I will be sending out notices by email to preferred DWN clients by email, and I anticipate that the collection will become available in around three weeks.