This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Some coins would probably receive a lot more attention were it not for the fact that they were produced at a time when they did not stand out. That seems to be the case with the 1874-CC Seated Liberty half dollar, which is really a very good date, few seem to know.
One of the first problems the 1874-CC had when it comes to getting attention is that it came from Carson City. Now Carson City was an interesting facility that produced a lot of interesting coins, but for a coin to stand out among all the low mintage issues of Carson City it needs a mintage on the order of six and not 59,000, which was the case for the 1874-CC. For any other facility 59,000 looks pretty low, but at Carson City that mintage seemed pretty average much of the time.
The 1874-CC came close to becoming a critical type coin, and that certainly would have made its prices much higher. However, when the amount of silver was increased slightly in silver issues the year was 1873, not 1874. They put arrows at the date to show that the new issues had more silver and those arrows were used for 214,560 pieces in 1873 and the 59,000 in 1874.
Type collectors need one of the two and, as might be expected, the 1873-CC is more available so it has the added demand. If the prices of the two got to equal levels, then people would take the 1874-CC since it is tougher. But that is not likely to happen, so the 1873-CC will continue to be the example seen in type collections.
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Even without the help of being an important type coin, the 1874-CC Seated Liberty half dollar still has to be considered an awfully good coin. You start with that low mintage of 59,000.
Now that was a 59,000 mintage not from Philadelphia, but rather from Carson City and there was not a lot of avid collecting in the Carson City area. The evidence is that at least a few examples were saved, which, in this case, is very unusual. However, at Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, out of 30 examples graded, they report that 10 were called Mint State. At Professional Coin Grading Service, out of 44 examples graded, 10 were called Mint State. We cannot be sure if the 10 at each were in some cases repeats, although the odds are that they were, but up to 20 Mint State examples is fairly high for a Carson City half dollar with such a low mintage.
On the other hand, you have a combined total of just 74 examples seen. There are a lot of coins that are considered very elusive where you will get grading service totals of more than 100 and not just 74. Some of the lower mintage Dahlonega and Charlotte gold dollars, for example, will top 100 if you combine the PCGS and NGC totals, so you have to feel the 1874-CC is not really available in any numbers.