The 1836 Gobrecht Dollar, PCGS PR64 is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month.
Is the Gobrecht dollar best considered a pattern or a regular-issue coin? It has been one of the great debates in its numismatic circles. However, more contemporary research shows the coin is designated a regular-issue strike as posited by Mint Director James Ross Snowden in his 1860 book A Description of Ancient and Modern Coins in the Cabinet Collection at the Mint of the United States.
No matter what the taxonomical classification for this mid-19th-century coin, it has an
enthusiastic base all its own. Gobrecht dollars, named for their designer Christian Gobrecht and featuring his iconic numismatic motif of a seated Miss Liberty, have entranced collectors for generations.
Various iterations of these coins exist, with some showing Gobrecht’s surname sprawled across the base of the Liberty Seated device. Those featuring the Gobrecht inscription on the obverse of the coin offer collectors a novel treat, for few U.S. Mint emissions of either the regular-issue kind or pattern variety show the complete surname of its designer; most coins bearing the name of its creator nods to the artist by way of an initial (or set of initials), but rarely ever a name spelled out.
Professional Coin Grading Service graded one particularly exquisite specimen of the Gobrecht dollar that was held for decades in the collection of Harry W. Bass, Jr., Proof-64. Champagne and rose toning only enhances the beauty of this splendid rarity, which sold for $84,000 in a September 2022 offering by Heritage Auctions.
Grade refers to a coin’s level of preservation: how many nicks or scratches or other imperfections it has. Coins are graded on a scale of one to 70, with higher numbers signifying higher grades. One represents a coin that is so well worn that it’s barely identifiable as to its type. 70 represents a perfect coin: a coin that when viewed under a five-power magnifying glass has no visible imperfections.
60 through 70 represent the Mint State (MS) grades. A coin graded MS-60 can have so many nicks and scratches and flaws that it might look as if Godzilla used it as a teething ring. MS-65 is the industry standard for “Gem.” MS-66 through MS-69 are the near-flawless super-grade or wonder coin assignations. With each grade level above MS-66, the value might double or triple.
Grade names are used in addition to numerical grades. In ascending order, these word grades are About or Almost Good; Good; Very Good; Fine; Very Fine; Extra or Extremely Fine; About or Almost Uncirculated; and Mint State.
To subscribe to COINage magazine click here.