1870 Liberty Seated dollars are collectible silver coins that appeal to individuals who pursue rare 19th-century United States coins. In 1870, one of the rarest of all United States silver dollars was made when the San Francisco Mint struck an unspecified number of 1870 dollars. While there are no official records to indicate how many 1870-S dollars were made, what is known is that 12 are known to exist today.
Most have been circulated and exhibit various stages of wear, but even the worn specimens sell for prices in the six-figure range. Only one 1870-S dollar is known in uncirculated condition, and that specimen sold for an astounding $1.1 million in 2003. Expensive issues, such as the 1870-S silver dollar – not to mention the costly and exceedingly rare 1866 No Motto dollar – are two reasons why the classic Liberty Seated dollar is rarely collected by date and mintmark. Very few collectors have the financial means to complete such a set, and fewer still have the opportunity to collect every issue in the series.
While the 1870-S silver dollar is an elusive coin, the other Liberty Seated dollars from that year are much more affordable. Here’s a rundown of the other 1870 Liberty Seated dollars in terms of mintage and value:
1870, 415,000 minted; $300 to $2,200
1870-CC, 11,758; $800 to $26,000
1870 proof, 1,000; $4,000
*Price ranges are from a low grade of Very Good-8 through Mint State-60 unless otherwise stated.
Liberty Seated dollars are generally tough to find in original, uncleaned condition; even damaged pieces can be challenging to locate. Collectors can be assured of paying small premiums over the values listed above for especially nice, problem-free specimens.
1870 Liberty Seated dollars are made from a composition consisting of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. Each silver dollar contains 0.77344 ounces, or nearly a full ounce, of pure silver. These coins measure 38.1 millimeters in diameter and weigh 26.73 grams, so they are as large and heavy as the Morgan and Peace silver dollars popular with collectors and investors.
1870 Liberty Seated silver dollars were designed by United States Mint Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht. He also designed several coins bearing the Liberty Seated motif, including the half dime, dime, quarter, and half dollar – all of which saw production during a time generally spanning the late 1830s through early 1890s.