1881 James Garfield Dollar Coin Value Checker

1881 James Garfield Dollar Coin Value Checker

From 2012 onward, they only made the coins for collectors since the public had refused to use them in everyday transactions. But 20 is often a landmark anniversary, so let’s explore the 1881 James Garfield Dollar Coin Value.

1881 James Garfield $1

2011-P Position A


MS 68


1881 James Garfield $1

2011-P Position B


MS 68


1881 James Garfield $1

2011-D Position A


MS 68


1881 James Garfield $1

2011-D Position B


MS 68


1881 James Garfield $1

2011-S Proof

San Francisco



1881 James Garfield $1 2011-P

Doubled Edge Lettering Overlap

(Typewriter Edge Error)


MS 65


1881 James Garfield $1 2011-D

Weak Edge Lettering Error


MS 67


Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States, but few Americans know all his predecessors. That’s part of the purpose of the Presidential Dollar Series – to remind us of our past leaders. And since James Garfield was the 20th US President, his $1 coin was minted in November 2011. His wife Lucretia got a Commemorative Spouse coin as well – a $10 gold.

Garfield grew up poor but got a good education and rose to be a Union Army general, lawyer, orator, mathematician, and politician. Unfortunately, he only served as president for six and a half months before his assassination. And his demise was painfully drawn out. He was shot in July, caught an infection, received tons of experimental treatments, but died in September.

He wasn’t the shortest-serving president – that would be William Henry Harrison, who died after 31 days in office. But President Garfield was strong on civil rights, education in election matters, civil service reforms, and the use of technology in agriculture. He also purged the Post Office to reduce corruption. You can learn more about his legacy at Coin Value Checker.

As we step into coin territory, let’s start with the basics. The blank disc used to make coins is called the planchet, while the heads side is the obverse and the tails side is the reverse. Any words on the coin are called legends or mottos, and any images are called devices. The field is the backdrop of the coin, and the thin side is called the edge. It can be reeded or smooth.

The obverse (heads side) features a bust of James Garfield facing left. It’s carved at an angle so both his eyes are visible. The top of the coin bears his name while the bottom has the motto In God We Trust followed by his position in the lineage and his tenure in office – 20th President 1881. The designer’s initials, PM for Phebe Hemphill, are on his right coat collar.

The reverse (tails side) of the James Garfield 2011 Dollar Coin features the Statue of Liberty, with her torch pointing to the upper left and her tablet hosting the designer’s initials, DE for Don Everhart. United States of America runs along the collar of the coin and a ring encircles Lady Liberty. The ring frames the legend and is partly obscured by her torso and her torch.

The Presidential Dollars were modeled off the Sacagawea Dollar, so they’re golden rather than gold. This means they have a gilded appearance but are a clad alloy. On James Garfield coins, a pure copper core was coated with a mix of 77% copper, 12% zinc, %1 nickel, and 10% manganese. The edge shows the date (2011), mint mark (D, P, or S), and E Pluribus Unum.

In 2011, the Denver and Philadelphia Mints produced 37,100,000 coins each. These James Garfield $1 coins were business strikes or regular strikes intended for circulation. Another 1,438,743 Proof Coins were struck at the San Francisco Mint. Let’s look at their price details. But first, a primer of Position A and Position B coins. They’re about a 50-50 split in numbers.

The coins were minted in two steps. They first struck the obverse and reverse, then dumped them in a vat for feeding into the Schuler Edge Incusion Machine. Some landed face-down, so the edge lettering was upright. Those are Position A coins. Others landed with the obverse (president’s head) facing up, so the edge lettering was upside down. Those are Position Bs.

This coin isn’t especially expensive. The highest price on record so far is $189 for MS 68 in July 2013. Rarity does play into it though. PCGS has received about 100 coins in MS 65 and 180 in MS 67. But with only 5 coins graded MS 68, their current price estimate is $385 each.

Position B coins score a little higher with a record price of $200 set in May 2014. It was an eBay sale though, and that’s not always a reliable gauge. PCGS sold an MS 66 for a mere $7 in September 2013, but since they only have six MS 68 coins, their current estimate is $450.

These coins were officially released on 17th November 2011. And people who keep track can tell which coins were issued on Day 1 because these early batches fetch better prices. An MS 68 was $68 in November 2015 and is worth $200 today. A 1st Day MS 66 was $101 in 2015.

In January 2016, an MS 68 sold for $270. With only 7 submitted to PCGS so far, the current value isn’t much higher in 2023 – it’s $300. Meanwhile, an MS 66 issued on the 1st Day sold for $109 in January 2012. Thirty of them have been submitted to PCGS so they’re only $130.

Proof coins have a mirror-polished field while the device, legends, mottos, dates, and rims are laser frosted. Planchets are burnished in a vat of stainless steel balls before striking to give that reflective shine, and proof coins are struck using specialty dies. Also, while regular coins use incusion machines for the edge lettering, proof coins use three-segment collar bits.

These coins are quite common, and PCGS has received over 1,000 of them in PR 70 DCAM, the perfect grade. Their easy availability brings their current price estimate down to $38 even though a sample sold for $60 in July 2016 and $34 in February 2012. Meanwhile, with close to 7,000 coins submitted and graded PR 69 DCAM, prices dropped to $7 in June 2019.

Errors can make a coin far more expensive. And on Presidential Dollar coins, the most famous errors appeared on the edge lettering. Let’s take a closer look and confirm things. Keep in mind that 1881 James Garfield Dollar coins have 13 five-pointed stars on the edge.

On some coins, the pressure of the incusion machine was inadequate so the edge inscriptions were weak and wore off easily. In MS 67, this error sold for $59 in June 2019. Today, an MS 67 goes for $225 since only 6 coins are known. The range is the same for both P and D coins.

While weak lettering errors appear faded, partial lettering errors have some of the words or numbers missing. They may even have half a number or letter. While the error has been spotted by various sources, no verifiable pricing records exist at the top auction houses.

The obverse and reverse of a coin are struck at least twice to ensure all the details are fully transferred. But the edge lettering should only happen once. If the coin passes through the incusion machine twice, you might get a doubled edge overlap error where the inscriptions get imprinted twice. In MS 64, this error sold for $80 in October 2018. MS 65 is $150 today.

If the edge letter is doubled in the same direction, that’s the overlap error we mentioned above. But if the coin flips before going into the incusion machine for a second pass, you’ll get two sets of edge inscriptions in opposite directions. That’s called an inverted doubled edge error. It’s an easy mint mistake to spot, but auction records are harder to come by.

You can accurately refer to the 1881 James Garfield Dollar as the 2011 James Garfield Dollar. The first date refers to his presidential term while the second is the year of mintage. Like all Presidential Dollars, the coin is 26.49mm in diameter (that’s about 1”) and 2mm thick. It weighs 8.1g, and the price of individual coins depends on their rarity, condition, and errors.

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