Gobrecht Dollar

Posted by on February 11, 2012

Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Gobrecht (1836-1839) 26.73 89% silver, 10% copper
1836 Gobrecht Dollar (obverse)

1836 Gobrecht Dollar (obverse)

The Gobrecht Dollar was based on a portrait of Liberty by Thomas Sully and a bald eagle in flight by Titian Peals and adapted for the silver dollar master dies by Christian Gobrecht.

This silver coin was only a test, or ‘pattern’, coin and struck in 1836 through 1839. There are two distinctly different variations and in 1837 the silver composition was changed for all US silver coins from 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper weighing 26.96 grams to 90% silver and 10% copper weighing 26.73 grams.  All of these are 39 mm in diameter.

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The obverse of the Gobrecht Dollar struck in 1836 and 1837 have Liberty sitting on a rock with a staff which has a cap on it in one hand, the other hand is resting on a shield which has “LIBERTY” written across it.  “1836” is under Liberty at the base of the coin.  Early strikes had “C.GOBRECHT F.” as the engraver’s mark between Liberty and the date.  Complaints were made that it was unseemly and the inscription was moved onto the base of Liberty’s rock and reduced in size.  The dates were not change for the 1837 strikes, but the silver composition is different.

The reverse of the “1836” has a bald eagle flying upward with a field of 26 unevenly distributed stars.  13 of the stars are slightly larger, representing the original states and the others representing the states added since then.  The lower portion has “ONE DOLLAR” encircling and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encircling the upper portion.

1836 Gobrecht Dollar (reverse)

1836 Gobrecht Dollar (reverse)

The Gobrecht Dollar struck in 1838 and 1839 obverses still had Liberty on it and the date under her, but without the engraver’s mark add the addition of 13 stars encircle the upper 2/3s of the coin.  The reverse has the eagle flying across and no stars, otherwise it is the same as before.  All of the 1839 coins are reeded, however the rest maybe either be reeded or plain.

The United States Mint had not struck a silver dollar coin since 1804 and officially, in 1806, the US silver dollar was discontinued.  The general opinion is that there were very few circulating in the United States and that most of them were going overseas, primarily to the Cantonese province of China, for trade.  When are several thousand Spanish silver coins arrived in the US from Cantonese the US Mint became interested in striking a silver dollar coin again.  The Gobrecht Dollar was a test to see how the silver coin would be received.

The mint runs were very small.  The only business strikes were 1,000 in 1936 and 600 in 1837, also dated 1836, but with the new 90% silver standard.  Proofs were struck of these, probably 100 each year and there are also restrikes of the 1939 Gobrecht Dollar.

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