Thirty-three years isn't a very long life by most people's reckoning.
But if the Seated Liberty silver dollar design had a tombstone that's
the story the dates 1840 to 1873 would tell.
It was just
three years after the Seated Liberty design was used on the half dime
that the Seated Liberty silver dollar was introduced.
COIN VALUES: See how much Seated Liberty dollar coins are
By the time a new design for the silver dollar was presented
(William Barber's Trade dollar, which was a variation of the Seated
Liberty design), the concept of a Seated Liberty with Liberty cap,
pole and shield seemed to have run its course.
other denomination would be struck with the design after production of
the silver dollar ceased in 1873 – the short-lived 20-cent coin.
Both the silver dollar and the half dime denominations bearing
the Christian Gobrecht-Robert Hughes-Thomas Sully concept were
discontinued in 1873.
It would be almost another 20 years
before the design disappeared from the U.S. Mint engravers' repertoire
There are some similarities to the Trade
dollar design adopted in 1873: a seated allegorical figure
representing Liberty and an eagle on the reverse. But the similarity
The Seated Liberty silver dollar retains
drapery behind Liberty's left elbow. The design doesn't require the
arrows and rays used on previous incarnations of the design on lower
denominations because the silver content remained steady throughout
The only noticeable difference during the 33
years this type of silver dollar was struck occurred in 1866 when
Treasury officials decreed all $20 gold double eagles, $10 gold
eagles, $5 gold half eagles, silver dollars, half dollars and quarter
dollars were to incorporate the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the
On the Seated Liberty design, the motto appears
on a ribbon below the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA legend and above the
eagle's head. The denomination, located beneath the eagle's feet, is
expressed as ONE DOL. The eagle still bears a shield on its breast and
arrows and an olive branch in its talons. The legend UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA appears along the top half of the reverse.
Liberty dollars are collected by date and Mint mark and by major
varieties. The key and semi-key dates are so numerous (21 and eight
respectively) that most collectors shy away from trying to complete
such a set.
A complete collection of Seated Liberty
dollars, dated 1840 through 1873 comprises 46 coins.
Keep reading from our "Know Your U.S. Coins" series:
Cents and half cents:
2- and 3-cent coins:
Dimes and half dimes: