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Question: I read somewhere that you consider the 1905 Lewis and Clark gold dollar to be the rarest of the commemorative gold dollars. Considering that 10,041 of the 1905 Lewis and Clark gold dollar were made and only about 5,000 of each of the 1922 Grant gold dollars, what makes the 1905 Lewis and Clark the rarest?
Answer: The answer lies in the method of distribution. Most of the 1905 Lewis and Clark gold dollars were sold as souvenirs to the general public. Over a period of time, thousands became damaged or lost. On the other hand, the 1922 Grant gold dollars were nearly all sold to numismatists who preserved them. Thus, on an absolute basis, more Grant gold dollars survive today, despite the lower original mintage. In terms of high grade Mint State coins, a 1905 Lewis and Clark is much rarer than a 1922 Grant.