There are many great coins available at what are really discount prices. It seems that everyone has their favorites. You can go up and down the mintages of Barber dimes, quarters and half dollars and find one date after another which seems to be very inexpensive. Much the same can be said of Seated Liberty issues as well such as the 1874-S Seated Liberty dime.
It is easy to understand why Seated Liberty issues are relatively quiet. The design was last produced over a century ago and it’s a pretty safe guess that no one alive today ever received a Seated Liberty coin of any denomination in circulation and you cannot say that about Barber dimes, quarters or half dollars.
That is why Seated Liberty issues are normally not very active but with dimes it is worse. It’s probably just a function of their size as large coins like silver dollars and gold double eagles seem to be always active while small coins like dimes are not.
All of that sets the stage to have some very good deals if you look through Seated Liberty dimes. The 1874-S with a total mintage of 240,000 which just happened to be lower than the famous 1916-D Mercury dime looks to be one of those good deals just waiting for an astute buyer.
The 1874-S does not rank as one of the extremely low mintage Seated Liberty dimes. The really low mintage Seated Liberty dimes tend to be priced like the really low mintage dimes they are. In some cases like the 1844 they have been promoted over the years and may even seem to be more expensive than they should be in the minds of some.
The 1874-S, however, is a natural for being overlooked as it was one of the two years when there were arrows at the date after the size of the dime was increased slightly in terms of its silver content. The arrows were placed next to the date in 1873 and they remained in 1874 before being removed in 1875.
Being part of a two-year type makes the 1874-S almost invisible to some. They treat the two year types as if they only exist as type coins, despite the fact that the 1873-CC and 1874-CC are two of the most elusive and most expensive of all Seated Liberty dimes. It’s just that, like the 1874-S, they are part of a very short-lived type.
It’s worthwhile to consider the situation at the time as there was not likely to be much saving of the 1874-S at the time for many years. There were very few collectors and they did not normally collect by date and mint. As a result they would have been happy with any 1874 dime as collecting by date they did not need the 1874-S. That pattern would not change for a couple decades and by then any 1874-S which had been placed in circulation was well worn.
At $26 in G-4 today you have to feel the 1874-S has a very good value. After all, the higher mintage and more recently produced 1916-D Mercury dime is about $725 in the same grade. Of course with very little demand the 1874-S does not move much in price, but if even a small amount of extra demand did surface it would potentially push the price much higher.
In MS-60 the 1974-S is $800 and has no listed price in MS-65, suggesting not enough supply to get a reading on a top quality piece. That is not too surprising. In the case of issues from a branch mint like San Francisco there was very little saving and it would take good luck to have one of the few Mint State examples actually be an MS-65.
The Mint State situation is interesting as the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports a total of just 50 examples graded with 33 being Mint State and just five topping MS-64.
At a Professional Coin Grading Service the number graded stands at 81 coins with 35 being called Mint State with just ten better than MS-64.
The total number of examples graded is exceptionally low suggesting that the 1874-S really does not exist in any numbers. A few are Mint State but realistically in all grades the 1874-S is a very tough and overlooked dime. ♦