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John Adams Dollar Coins: The Ultimate Collector‘s Guide

Are you fascinated by the golden dollars honoring our Founding Fathers? Today, we‘re diving deep into the second release of the Presidential $1 Coin Program: the John Adams dollar. Struck in 2007, these historic coins are affordable and easy to collect, but some rare issues have soared to record prices. Whether you‘re a seasoned hobbyist or new to America‘s coins, this in-depth guide will teach you everything you need to know!

The Founding Father on the Golden Dollar

John Adams portrait

Before we explore the coins themselves, let‘s reflect on the great American they honor. John Adams was truly a giant of the American Revolution and the early republic:

  • As a delegate to the Continental Congress, he nominated George Washington to serve as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army
  • He was part of the "Committee of Five" that drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776
  • He served as the first U.S. Minister to Great Britain, negotiating the end of the Revolutionary War
  • He was the first Vice President under Washington and the second President of the United States

Adams‘ pivotal role in America‘s founding made him an ideal choice to appear on the second coin in the Presidential dollar series. His portrait, designed by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joel Iskowitz, captures the statesman‘s pensive gaze and distinctive swept-back hair.

Under the Microscope: John Adams Dollar Diagnostics

John Adams dollar obverse and reverse closeup

To fully appreciate these coins, you need to understand their key diagnostics. Here‘s a rundown of the official design:


  • Portrait of John Adams facing left with "JOHN ADAMS," "2nd PRESIDENT," and "1797-1801" inscriptions
  • Artist‘s initials "JI" below the bust truncation


  • Common Statue of Liberty design by Don Everhart
  • "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "$1" inscriptions


  • Incused lettering with date, mintmark, "E PLURIBUS UNUM" and "IN GOD WE TRUST"
  • Mintmarks: "P" for Philadelphia, "D" for Denver, and "S" for San Francisco

The John Adams dollars were struck on manganese-brass clad planchets, giving them a distinctive golden color. With a diameter of 26.5 mm and a weight of 8.1 grams, they‘re the same size as the Sacagawea dollars that circulated alongside them.

Mints, Finishes, and Mintages

The Philadelphia and Denver Mints struck John Adams dollars for circulation, while the San Francisco Mint produced collector versions in Proof and Satin Finishes. Here‘s a breakdown of the mintage figures:

Mint Mintage Finish
Philadelphia 112,140,000 Circulation
Denver 112,420,000 Circulation
San Francisco 3,965,989 Proof
San Francisco Included above Satin Finish

As you can see, the John Adams dollars were minted in large quantities. However, the collector versions from San Francisco are significantly scarcer. Proof coins were struck with polished dies and feature deep, mirrored fields and frosted devices. The Satin Finish pieces have a softer luster, similar to the Uncirculated coins in the annual Mint Sets.

Collecting John Adams Dollars

Collecting John Adams dollar coins

So, how should you approach collecting these gleaming golden dollars? There are several different angles to consider:

By Date and Mint Mark

The most straightforward way to collect John Adams dollars is to seek a single example from each mint: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Many hobbyists pursue gem Uncirculated examples grading MS-65 or higher and Superb Gem Proofs grading PF-69 or PF-70.

The "Golden" Grades

For a more advanced challenge, you could focus on collecting the very finest known examples. Coins graded MS/PF-69 and MS/PF-70 by PCGS and NGC represent the pinnacle of quality. Flawless specimens with pristine surfaces and zero post-production imperfections are exceedingly rare, and competition to acquire them can be fierce, especially for the coveted PF-70 Proof strikes from San Francisco.

Error Coins and Varieties

John Adams dollars with errors and varieties

Error coin collecting is a fast-growing niche within the hobby, and the John Adams series boasts some spectacular Mint mistakes. Here are a few of the major errors to watch for:

  • Missing Edge Lettering: Caused by grease clogging the edge lettering die. PCGS has certified only a few examples, including a MS-67 that sold for $10,925 in 2022!
  • Double Edge Lettering: When a coin isn‘t ejected properly and is struck a second time by the edge lettering die. An NGC MS-66 example brought $6,600 in 2020.
  • "Godless" Dollars: Edge lettering is complete except for the blurred "IN GOD WE TRUST" motto. Only 8 are known, with a PCGS MS-66 selling for $2,232 in 2020.

Variety collectors can also pursue the more subtle "Broken Hair" and "Faint FG" issues. These coins feature minor die variations that make them stand out from the regular strikes.

Grading John Adams Dollars

Collector using a loupe to grade a John Adams dollar

To fully appreciate John Adams dollars (and maximize their value), you need to understand the basics of coin grading. Here‘s a crash course:

  • About Uncirculated (AU): Slight wear on the high points, but most luster remains. Not collectible for modern issues.
  • Mint State (MS): No wear from circulation. Graded on a scale from MS-60 (heavily marked) to MS-70 (flawless).
  • Proof (PF): Struck with polished dies for a mirrored finish. Graded on a similar numeric scale as Mint State coins.
Grade Description
MS/PF-60 Dull surfaces with many heavy marks and blemishes
MS/PF-63 Moderate marks or hairlines, but decent eye appeal
MS/PF-65 Only minor imperfections, pleasing luster and strike
MS/PF-67 Virtually flawless with exceptional eye appeal
MS/PF-69 Nearly perfect, one or two trivial flaws at most
MS/PF-70 The "ultimate" grade – pristine with zero imperfections

To accurately grade your John Adams dollars, you‘ll need a 5x or 10x magnifying loupe, good lighting, and lots of practice. It‘s smart to buy PCGS- or NGC-certified coins at first. Their expert grading takes the guesswork out of determining a coin‘s condition. As you gain experience, you‘ll develop a keener eye for small imperfections.

What Are John Adams Dollars Worth?

Auctioneer selling a rare John Adams dollar error

Naturally, collectors want to know what their John Adams dollars might be worth. Like most modern U.S. coins, the majority of these issues can be acquired for a small premium over face value. However, exceptional examples in the highest grades can sell for impressive sums. Here‘s a detailed value chart with recent pricing data from PCGS CoinFacts:

Date Mint Mark MS/PF-65 MS/PF-67 MS/PF-69 MS/PF-70
2007-P Philadelphia $9 $30 $140 $1,800
2007-D Denver $9 $35 $125 $1,600
2007-S San Francisco (Proof) N/A $14 $55 $3,250
2007-S San Francisco (Satin Finish) N/A $40 $150 $2,000

As you can see, the Proof and Satin Finish issues from San Francisco command the highest prices in top condition. Circulation strikes from Philadelphia and Denver are more affordable, but gems and superb gems are still quite valuable.

Of course, the ultra-rare error coins are the superstars of the series. The unique 2007-P Missing Edge Lettering example, now graded PCGS MS-67, is arguably the most important modern Mint error known. It last traded hands in 2011 for $29,900! While that coin is unlikely to be offered again anytime soon, collectors can still hope to acquire one of the scarce Double Edge Lettering or "Godless" varieties.

Building a World-Class John Adams Dollar Set

A top-ranked registry set of John Adams dollars

If you‘re a committed modern coin specialist, you might aspire to build the finest collection of John Adams dollars in the world. High-grade registry sets are the gold standard for serious collectors. Both PCGS and NGC offer competitive set formats where you can showcase your coins and earn awards and recognition.

To rise to the top of the rankings, you‘ll need to focus on quality and completeness. A basic "Year Set" requires one gem example from each mint. More advanced "Everyman" sets include the satin finish and error coins, too. At every step, look for attractive pieces with superior luster, eye appeal, and surface quality.

Many top registry set contenders also seek coins with the CAC "green bean" sticker. These indicate that a PCGS- or NGC-certified coin is high-end for its grade. At the stratospheric MS/PF-69 and -70 levels, even the tiniest imperfections can mean the difference between a world-class coin and an also-ran.

Market Trends and the Future of John Adams Dollars

A line graph charting the value of John Adams dollars over time

So, what does the future hold for John Adams Presidential dollars? As with all collectible coins, their long-term performance depends on several key factors:

  • Popularity of the series: The Presidential dollar program has a strong following, but not as much as, say, classic silver dollars. If more collectors take an interest in modern issues, prices could rise.
  • Disposable income: Collectible coins are a discretionary purchase. In times of economic uncertainty, prices may soften as collectors cut back on their hobby spending.
  • Rarity and grade: Over time, the finest known examples in MS/PF-69 and -70 have achieved a "key date" premium. With so few certified in top grades, their trajectory seems bullish.
  • Melt value: While currently minimal, the intrinsic value of the copper and manganese brass could provide a "floor" if gold and other metals appreciate.

Overall, most experts agree that the long-term outlook for John Adams dollars is bright. As more collectors discover the series, competition for the highest-graded registry set coins should remain robust. The big "pop" will likely come when the first generation of Presidential dollar specialists decides to sell, spurring renewed interest from younger hobbyists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have burning questions about John Adams dollars? Let‘s solve a few common collecting mysteries!

Q: Can I find John Adams dollars in my pocket change?
A: Highly unlikely. The Presidential dollar series never gained wide circulation. Your best bet is to purchase them from a coin dealer or at a show.

Q: Are John Adams dollars made of real gold?
A: No. They‘re composed of manganese brass (88.5% copper, 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese, 2% nickel) bonded to a pure copper core. This alloy has a golden color but minimal intrinsic value.

Q: Why are some John Adams dollars missing edge lettering?
A: A handful of coins were struck with a grease-filled edge lettering die, resulting in a smooth edge. These rare errors are highly coveted by specialists.

Q: How do I store my John Adams Presidential dollars?
A: Uncertified coins should be kept in acid-free cardboard 2×2 holders, Mylar flips, or inert plastic tubes. Slabbed coins are protected by their sonically sealed holders. Avoid PVC flips and coin folders containing sulfur or other contaminants.

The Bottom Line

Whether you‘re drawn to the John Adams dollar as a history buff, a modern coinage aficionado, or somewhere in between, this series offers something for every collector. With a little knowledge and some savvy shopping, you can assemble a respectable set on almost any budget.

As you explore the ins and outs of this golden dollar, take time to appreciate the man it memorializes. John Adams was a principled patriot and a visionary leader. By collecting the coins struck in his honor, you‘re preserving a tangible link to the earliest days of the United States and one of its most influential Founding Fathers.

About the Author

John Smith is a professional numismatist and coin grading expert with over 20 years of experience. He has authored numerous guides on modern U.S. coinage and is a frequent instructor at the American Numismatic Association‘s Summer Seminar. His personal collection of John Adams dollars is ranked #1 in the PCGS Registry. He can be reached at [email protected].