US Coins

Key-date 1852 Seated Liberty dollar polished

The 1852 Seated Liberty dollar is a key to the series, with a low mintage of just 1,100 pieces. 

Silver was expensive in 1852, so production of the small-sized gold dollar was prioritized over large silver dollars in both 1851 and 1852. Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing’s recent publication on Seated Liberty dollars estimates that just 65 of the 1852 Seated Liberty silver dollars survive in all grades.


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The featured example has strong details thanks to a full strike and little wear. It is graded About Uncirculated Details, Polished, by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. 

Polishing is a severe type of improper cleaning that occurs when an aggressive cleaning gives the coin a brilliant, unnaturally shiny sheen. While polishing is common for functional silver wares, it is damaging to the value of coins and the resulting unnatural look is glossy. To the inexperienced collectors, a brilliant polished coin at first glance might resemble a Proof. 

The catalog observed, “A glossy texture explains the NGC qualifier, and a few well scattered carbon spots are also noted for accuracy.” The bright dollar sold for $21,400 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries Baltimore Expo auction in May. 

This date trades infrequently, but another example graded About Uncirculated Details, Tooled, brought $23,500 at a Heritage auction five years ago, providing a benchmark for pricing. It also had strong details, but its upper reverse fields were smoothed to minimize the appearance of some abrasions. 

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