1861 Liberty Seated dollars are very scarce 19th-century type silver coins that are pursued by rare coin enthusiasts and those who enjoy collecting 19th-century United States silver type coins. While an 1861 Liberty Seated dollar may contain nearly a full ounce of silver, they should not be collected as bullion pieces but rather enjoyed for their numismatic value.
Relatively few Liberty Seated silver dollars were struck in 1861, the first year of the Civil War. Even fewer of these coins exist today. All told, 77,500 Liberty Seated dollars were struck that year; 1,000 pieces were struck as proofs. All pieces were made at the Philadelphia Mint. Business-strikes are worth from $750 in a grade of Very Good-8 up to $3,500 in Mint State-60. Proofs, meanwhile, are worth about $4,600.
While mintage of the 1861 Liberty Seated dollar occurred at only the Philadelphia Mint, the series was struck at most of the Mints in operation during the period. The Liberty Seated dollar, struck from 1840 through 1873, was made at the Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints. The Liberty Seated type was designed by Christian Gobrecht and also saw use on the half dime, dime, quarter, and half dollar.
Liberty Seated silver dollars saw widespread use during the first two decades or so of their production. As silver prices increased into the 1860s, the coin was relegated to foreign trade purposes. Liberty Seated dollars consist of a 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper composition. They weigh 26.73 grams and contain 0.77344 ounces of pure silver. Their diameter measures 38.1 millimeters, which is the same width as the widely encountered Morgan and Peace silver dollars from the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.