1861-D Gold Dollar Struck Under Authority of the Confederacy

Heritage Auctions senior numismatist Sarah Miller recently shared on social media that a 1861-D gold dollar struck by the Confederacy is up for bid in their United States Coins Signature Auction #1327, February 18-21, 2021.

1861-D Gold Dollar Reverse

The coin’s catalog description reads:

1861-D G$1 AU55 PCGS. Variety 12-Q. The 1861-D is one of the most famous gold dollars in the series and certainly the most important from the Dahlonega Mint. Even more significantly, it enjoys status as perhaps the most desirable product from the Georgia facility, regardless of denomination. This high standing is not just a measure of its absolute rarity but also of its historical significance.

The 1861-D gold dollar has been described as a “ghost” coin. The issue has no officially recorded mintage. That is because it was struck not under federal authority, but rather by the Confederate States of America sometime after February 1861, when the Confederacy seized control of the branch mint. Doug Winter cites researcher Carl Lester in proposing a mintage of 500 to 1,000 1861-D gold dollars, while the Guide Book reports an estimated production of 1,250 coins. They were struck from leftover 1860-D obverse die and all show weakness on the U in UNITED.

Winter estimates “five to six dozen known” in all grades, including perhaps 30 to 32 pieces in AU and 10 to 15 examples in Mint State. The certification totals at PCGS and NGC are undoubtedly highly inflated by resubmissions and crossovers. Nevertheless, PCGS reports 14 examples in AU55 and 33 higher grading events (1/21).

The present Choice About Uncirculated survivor displays typically mushy obverse design detail, while the reverse exhibits better definition on the wreath elements in general and the leaf left of the bow in particular. Partial satin luster appears around the devices, complementing orange-gold surfaces that show little more than a few superficial ticks and hairlines. A rather pleasing example of this momentous Southern gold rarity and the first 1861-D dollar we have handled in more than a year.

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