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Numbers point to melting of 1873-CC dollar

Mintages can sometimes be deceptive. Of course when the mintage in question is just 2,300 pieces it is hard for that to get too deceptive, but this is the case for the 1873-CC Seated Liberty dollar.

In early 1873 Congress was moving toward the authorization of a commercial or Trade dollar that would be larger than the standard silver dollar. While that was pending the mints could not simply stop, so normal production continued.

In Carson City normal production was not really a way of life. Since the facility opened for business in 1870, it had seen one problem after another. From the start it never produced the numbers of coins many expected. The problem was not a lack of silver. Heaven knows there was silver by the ton in nearby Virginia City, where the Comstock Lode was being mined. However, the owners of that silver did not want to send it to the local mint. The first superintendent of the Carson City Mint was Abe Curry, who apparently had more enemies than friends in the area. A number of owners shipped their silver all the way to San Francisco. Even when Curry left, the practice continued.

The silver dollar mintages in the early 1870s at Carson City had been well short of enormous. The 1870-CC, the first of the Carson City silver dollars, had a mintage of 12,462, and that was followed by the 1871-CC with a mintage of 1,376 and the 1872-CC had a mintage of 3,150.

Under these circumstances, the 2,300 mintage of the 1873-CC was not unusual. The production was stopped once the law authorizing the Trade dollar was passed early in the year.

The precise number of 1873-CC dollars to reach circulation is not known. Certainly the total was not large as is seen in the G-4 price of $6,000 today, and that price rises to $48,500 in AU-50. It lists for $225,000 in MS-63 and $625,000 in MS-65.

The high prices suggest that something went wrong with the mintage as the 1873-CC is more expensive than the 1,376 mintage 1871-CC in every grade.

The logical reason is that the 1873-CC was melted. The new Trade dollar would have more silver. It made sense that even though the Trade dollar in theory was made to be exported, the public would rather have the dollar made with slightly more silver. It is worth noting that Carson City has a history of melting down coins. The 1876-CC 20-cent piece was almost certainly melted. The Trade dollar would see some melting as well with 44,148 being melted in July of 1878.

As it stands today the 1873-CC is tougher than a date produced just two years earlier and with a 1,000-coin higher mintage. The differences in numbers may not be significant, but they are enough to make the 1873-CC Seated Liberty dollar the true king of the Carson City dollars.

More Resources:

• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin BooksCoin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition



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