Designed by Christian Gobrecht, the dollar had a composition of 90% silver and 10% copper with a total silver weight .77344 ounces.
The obverse design depicts an idealized form of Lady Liberty clad in a flowing dress and seated upon a rock. In her left hand, she held a pole surmounted by a liberty cap, which had been a pre-eminent symbol of freedom. Liberty's right hand rests on the top corner of a striped shield with a diagonal banner inscribed with the word LIBERTY. The shield represented preparedness in the defense of freedom. Surrounding the design were Seven stars are to the left and six to the right (13 stars were representative of the original 13 states of the Union).
The reverse design features an eagle holding an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other. On the outer periphery above the eagle is the legend "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and just below the eagle design are the words "ONE DOL." A mint mark for New Orleans (O), San Francisco (S) or Carson City (CC) is located at the bottom of the design below the eagle's claws. Coins minted at the Philadelphia mint carried no mint marks.
Though there are many small die varieties the series has only two major varieties referred to as "No Motto" and "With Motto".
Variety 1 No Motto - issued from 1840 to 1866 (only 2 1866 issues are known to exist)
Variety 2 With Motto - from 1866 to 1873 the reverse design was modified by adding a banner above the eagle with the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST".
General Market Notes
Seated Liberty Dollars are not for the budget collector as low grade prices typically start in the low hundreds and prices rise from there. For a collector in a limited or small budget, a relica coin may be the best answer.
For years that may be potential sleepers look for issues from 1872-S or 1849 as both coins had mintages well below 100,000 coins.
For the investor, the key to the series (excluding proofs & errors) are the 1851, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1858, 1859-S, 1870-CC, 1870-S, 1871-CC, 1872-CC, 1873-S, and 1873-CC issues. The semi-keys are the 1844, 1845, 1846-O, 1848, 1850, 1850-O, 1856, 1857, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, and 1872-S.