For Sale: One of the First and Most Valuable Dollars in U.S. History

On October 15, 1794, Henry Voigt, the Chief Coiner of the United States, hurried closely 2,000 eloquent coins to the desk of David Rittenhouse, the Director of the United States Mint. That day marked a milestone in the make of a area : Two years after Alexander Hamilton established the Mint under President George Washington, the first dollars had been minted .
There ’ s some debate about what happened adjacent. Some experts say there was a ceremony, well-attended by diplomats and representatives. Others say that despite the historic consequence, it was all business—no hor d ’ oeuvres, no party. inactive others, including the Smithsonian Institution, say that the neologism was destined for the pockets of the aforesaid dignitaries, as a nominal of the bright future of the fledgling United States .
What ’ sulfur certain is that now, over 200 Octobers by and by, one of those dollars will go up for auction .
An early 20th-century postcard depicting the first Mint in Philadelphia, where the first decade of American dollars were struck.An early 20th-century postcard depicting the first Mint in Philadelphia, where the first decade of American dollars were struck. Library Company of Philadelphia / Public Domain
“ The reason for producing these was to say, ‘ We can do this. Let ’ s get them out to senators, congressmen, and other VIPs, to show them the Mint is moving ahead, ’ ” says Douglas Mudd, the director and curator of the American Numismatic Association ’ s Money Museum. “ 1794 is the year they say, ‘ We ’ ll start the dollar coin, the anchor of the system. ’ Because our system is built on the dollar, and then multiples of the dollar, and then fractions of the dollar. ”

The coins up for auction—15 in sum, spanning the ten when this type of silver dollar was minted—are Flowing Hair dollars, so named for the imperial mane rocked by the busts on the coins ’ front man side, or obverse. ( On the turn back : a narrow-necked eagle with a furrowed eyebrow. ) The age-old change makes up the Bruce Morelan Collection, and it ’ s set to sashay across the auction block in Las Vegas on October 8 .
Of finical note is the 1794 one-dollar mint, the most valuable american english coin in being. It last sold for precisely over $ 10 million in 2013, usurping the longstanding record-breaker, the possibly more-famous 1933 Double Eagle. An 1804 dollar, printed precisely before the Mint stopped making the coin for over three decades, is besides a noteworthy slice .
“ The fact that this especial 1794 argent dollar is selling, and the fact that any 1804 dollar is selling, makes this a numismatic event, ” Mudd says, using the technical term for the study of coins. “ You ’ re lucky if an 1804 dollar sells every three to four years at most, and this 1794 dollar, because it ’ south possibly the first, makes it very special in itself. ”
The backs of 1794 dollar coins show a narrow-necked eagle with a furrowed brow.The backs of 1794 dollar coins show a narrow-necked eagle with a furrowed brow. Rare Coin Wholesalers via Getty Images

On that mid-october day in 1794, the Mint was calm toddling : It lacked a heavy press to mass-produce its coins. The 1,758 dollar coins that Voigt delivered were good an appetizer ; the Mint would soon create enough neologism to power one of the world ’ second fastest-growing economies .
The 1794 dollars are valuable in part because of how few are left. Estimates tend to be in the moo hundreds, and alone a choose few ever go to auction. The record-holding 1794 dollar was one of the earliest make, as deduced by the brittleness of the coin ’ randomness raised edges and letter, and its “ prooflike coefficient of reflection ” —a coin then clean off the imperativeness that its flat surfaces could be mistaken for mirrors. ( Over time, the “ dies ” that strickle the coins become muffle, softening the features of everything from the Flowing Hair to Kennedy ’ south chin on the more late half-dollar. )
The coin that ’ south now up for auction was obviously cut from the same fabric. “ Experts have looked at it and they ’ ve determined it ’ s a very early die state, ” Mudd says. “ It could be the beginning silver coin struck off the dies. We may never know, unless you have a time machine. ”

A Class III 1804 "Draped Bust" Dollar. Despite their moniker, no 1804 dollars were made before the year 1834.A Class III 1804 “Draped Bust” Dollar. Despite their moniker, no 1804 dollars were made before the year 1834. Heritage Auctions / Public Domain
Before the Mint ’ randomness creation, transactions were done through a combination of colonial and foreign currencies and barter. even when the first money-making web site was up and running in Philadelphia, the Mint struggled with the dollar unit. In early America, dimes made a distribute more sense—very few people made a dollar in a day. so in 1804, the coin was temporarily discontinued .
The terminus “ 1804 dollar ” turns out to be a act of a misnomer. That class, the Mint was then strap for cash that it struck dollar coins with a still-usable 1803 die, meaning that dollars made in 1804 however have “ 1803 ” printed on them. Decades late, the Jackson administration resumed the circulation of dollars, and retroactively hit dollars with “ 1804 ” on them, as diplomatic gifts to coin-collecting extraneous leaders, such as King Rama III of Siam ( now Thailand ) and the Sultan of Muscat ( nowadays share of Oman ). So few of the dollars were made, and sol individual were the collections to which they belonged, that they practically passed into legend—until the King of Siam ’ mho set was sold off, confirming the stories about kingly coin collections house the exalted coins .
What remains to be seen is whether these coins, specially that very early dollar from 1794, will fetch as princely a sum as the most expensive in history. If the asking monetary value international relations and security network ’ thyroxine met for the coins, they will remain in the collection. “ The thing it comes down to, ” Mudd says, “ is that there are two people that want it badly enough. ”

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