From 1840 until 1873, the silver Seated Liberty was the dollar coin of the realm. Designed by the U.S. Mint’s chief engraver, Christian Gobrecht, the coin featured Lady Liberty sitting on a stone, holding a pole and a liberty cap in one hand and a shield marked "Liberty" in her other.

The coin’s obverse, or front, design is the same as that of many types of half-dimes, dimes, 20-cent pieces, quarters, and half-dollars minted between 1836 and 1891. For this reason, many coin collectors choose to acquire all Seated Liberty coins, regardless of the denomination.

One of the problems for the Seated Liberty dollar was the fact that in 1853, the value of the silver in the coin was worth more than a buck, making its use as currency problematic. Thus, the coin was taken out of general circulation and used instead as a trade dollar in the Orient.

The coin underwent a facelift in 1866 when, after an act of Congress dictated it in 1865, the words "In God We Trust" were added above the eagle’s head on the coin’s reverse.

When the price of silver dropped in 1870, the Seated Liberty dollar returned to circulation. That year, one of the rarest of all Seated Liberty coins was struck in San Francisco, where less than a dozen 1870-S dollars were minted.

Output increased to more than a million coins in 1871 and 1872, but in 1873 the silver dollar fell out of favor when Congress ordered a reduction in the amount of silver in each dollar coin. After 1873, silver dollars were only used as trade dollars in the Orient, while at home, gold dollars were the unit coin until the first Morgan dollar was minted in 1878.


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