The 1839 Gobrecht Dollar. These were released into circulation and are now considered by many to be regular issue and not patterns.
Much controversy surrounds this issue. There are 2 theories revolving around them. The first theory originally espoused by Walter Breen and championed by Robert W. Julian and Craig Sholley believed that originals were struck in alignment I. We recommend reading their article in the July 31, 2007 edition of Numismatic News. The second theory by James Gray and Mike Carboneau believe that originals were struck in die alignment IV. To view these articles, click here.
Research is still ongoing on these but we and Craig Sholley (he switched sides) believe that the die alignment IV pieces, like the Smithsonian example - in the earliest die state known - are in fact the originals. It was believed that the Smithsonian piece did not have any die cracks but a May 2015 visit using better lighting and higher magnification shows that this piece does have very fine cracks through ITE and MER. The Smithsonian example was struck using a collar containing 181 reeds just like the 1838. An alignment III restrike from Dr Korein's collection in the ANS had 182 reeds. The Dr. Korein collection also has examples in alignment IV having both 181 and 182 reeds although it is too early to tell if this can be used to identify originals from restrikes. Its first sales appearance was in the 1851 Roper sale where it realized $2 and 1 bit (2 dollars 12 and 1/2 cents).
Complicating things further is an October 6, 2009 Numismatic News article by Robert Julian which states that all of the 1839 dated striking was destroyed in 1840 although the evidence provided, bullion ledgers ending in whole dollar amounts (Julian assumes these must be dollars when they can be half dollars, quarters or a mixture of denominations - the Mint valuation is by silver weight, not denomination - is weak. The 300 struck also appear in the 1840 Mint Report which also seems to contradict Julian's conclusion. Research on all of this continues!!
John Dannreuther has discovered that the working dies for this and J84/P93 were made from the same master die which originally had Gobrecht's name on the base as on J60/P65. Remnants of Gobrecht's name as well as several graver lines to efface the letters can be seen in the above image below.
Image courtesy of PCGS & John Dannreuther.
For additional information on these click here for Part 1 or Part 2 where a sequence is supplied at the end of the article.
Restrikes were struck in both die alignment III with 182 reeds and alignment IV also with 182 reeds and show any or all of the following die cracks.
1. Through the tops of the letters ITE in UNITED.
2. Through the tops of the letters MERI in AMERICA.
3. Through the bases of the letters LAR in DOLLAR.
The alignment IIIs are rarer than the alignment IVs. For additional information on this, click here.
Examples were struck as follows:
Silver with a reeded edge J104/P116 with about 75-100 known with alignment III restrikes being about a dozen of the total.
At least 8 or 9 are known in silver with a plain edge J105/P117. As 2 were in the Linderman sale, it is likely these were struck circa 1869 and into the early 1870s. 2 were in the Brand collection, journal ID#s 83317 (H. Chapman inventory) and 90918 (ex W.W.C. Wilson) and 2 were in the Col Green collection.
There is also a unique example struck in copper with a plain edge J107/P119.
Both of these were struck in die alignment III.
The listing in Judd and Pollock for a reeded edge copper example J106/P118 has been discredited. For additional information on this and all copper Gobrecht dollars, click here.
For the latest information on J104 from Craig Sholley, John Dannreuther and Saul Teichman, click here. For the latest information on J105, click here.
For the latest information on all Gobrecht dollars, click here courtesy of our friends at Heritage.
Photo courtesy of Superior.