See also : Coin Dollars and eagles Silver dollar
Chronology : 1790-1799
1793 Chain Cent
2015 SOLD for $ 2.35M by Heritage
Mass production will begin with the One Cent. That small coin worth 1/100 of a dollar, was eagerly anticipated. It had to assess that the federal government was able to circulate a currency suited to everyday life. It was not the first trial. The United States had produced from 1787 in 400,000 units a coin of this value, the Fugio cent in copper, stopped two years later because its inscriptions were not compliant with the new Constitution.
From October 1792 the rise in the price of copper creates a major difficulty. The Mint tries unsuccessfully to develop a bi-metallic copper-silver cent by alloying or plugging. On January 14, 1793 the Congress agrees to reduce the copper weight from 264 to 208 grains for a come back to a One Cent ln pure copper. This is not enough : the weight is then reduced to 168 grains (13.48 grams).
It is decided not to wait anymore. President Washington's birthday celebrations will last one week starting on Saturday, February 22. The federal One Cent must be available to users on Saturday, March 1st, eleven months after the Coinage Act.
The new coin is actually released on the scheduled day, in 11,178 units. Its design provokes an immediate reprobation at the factory. In the emergency the engraver miscalculated the circular arrangement of the letters on the reverse, inscribing United States of Ameri without ending the word America.
The Chain Ameri are thus the very first coins available for trading under the act of 1792, S-1 in Sheldon nomenclature. On January 10, 2019, Heritage sold for $ 1.5M as lot 4312 a coin in a great condition, graded MS64+ Brown by PCGS and CAC stamped. It even kept traces of the original color of the copper inside some deep incisions better preserved from corrosion. Only one other Ameri, not graded by PCGS, may be considered finer. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The publicists are immediately upset. The reverse side that consists mainly of a circle of fifteen links symbolizing the unity of the states is interpreted as a slave chain.
This chain symbol was not new and its presentation to the general public did not by itself generate a political misunderstanding. However, we must admit that the designer was not skillful. The Fugio cent already had a chain but its round links were soft. With its aggressive oval links, the chain cent was really unacceptable.
The correction of the blunders of the Chain cent was feverish. No less than three changes are made in less than two weeks, probably by at least two engravers who have not been identified. They are referred as S-2 to S-4 by Sheldon.
The S-4 got rid of all original defects. On the reverse the word America appears in full. On the observe the figure of the Liberty is more flexible, the word Liberty and the date 1793 are more readable at the top and bottom of the image and both are improved with periods.
An S-2 graded MS65 Brown by PCGS was sold for $ 1M by Stack's Bowers on January 22, 2013. An S-3 graded MS65 Red and Brown by PCGS was sold for $ 1M by Stack's Bowers on February 9, 2016. The best ranked Chain cent is an S-4 graded SP (specimen) 67 Brown by PCGS.
Belonging to the S-4 variant, one of the best chain cents had not appeared at auction since 1890. Graded MS66 Brown by PCGS, it is remarkable for its bold strike and perfect readability uncommon in old copper coins. It was sold for $ 2.35M by by Heritage on January 7, 2015, lot 4011.
An S-4 graded MS65 Brown by PCGS was sold twice by Heritage, for $ 1.38M on January 4, 2012, and for $ 1M on June 14, 2018, lot 3776. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The chain cent had been struck during only twelve days which were enough to wear the fragile dies already produced in this variant and to prepare its successor, the wreath cent whose elegant plant motif was unassailable.
Mint records indicate the release of 36,103 chain cents. The wreath cent, which was only a transition model designed for this situation of emergency, was produced in only 63,353 units, for a financial total still limited to $ 630 quite unable to serve the needs of the country..
The disgust inspired by the chain cent contributes greatly to the fact that some units were not handled and are still intact, which is not the case for the best wreath cents. Nevertheless the wreath cent from the Cardinal collection was graded 69 by PCGS. It was sold for $ 560K by Stack's Bowers on January 24, 2013.
2013 SOLD for $ 10M by Stack's Bowers
A further pair of dies is created to insert the fifteen stars in the circumference around the head of Liberty. A copper trial piece is kept at the Smithsonian.
Regarding silver, a unique coin has the characteristics of a specimen as defined by PCGS : superior minting quality and shiny appearance. It has been compared with the Smithsonian prototype : the state of the dies is exactly the same, with no added wear, and the sharpness of the line is perfect.
This coin is certainly the first federal silver dollar. It was struck in October 1794 at the Philadelphia Mint before the very last limited rework of the dies and the launch of the first production batch.
Graded SP66 by PCGS, it was sold for $ 7.85M in private sale in May 2010 and then for $ 10M at auction by Stack's Bowers on January 24, 2013, lot 13094. It passed on October 8, 2020 at Legend Rare Coin Auctions, lot 11.
1,758 units were supplied to the cashier on October 15, 1794. Technically, this lot was premature. The available press was not suitable for the required diameter, larger than the previous silver dime. The alignment of the dies did not resist, weakening the strike and limiting the output.
In the opposite the preparation of the specimen had been extremely careful. The silver planchet had been fitted with a plug and the weight of the specimen is almost perfect, only 0.24 grains (15 mg) above the 416 grains prescribed by the Coinage Act. Its splendid reflectivity has no equivalent among the 135 surviving units. It may be the sample presented to President Washington by Secretary of State Edmund Randolph. It surfaced in 1942 in the deceased estate of Colonel Green with an earlier provenance from the Virgil Brand collection.
2021 SOLD for $ 6.6M by Heritage
Ingots are bought to cover $ 2,000 in the new coinage. The production is done in one day, 15 October 1794. 1,758 pieces are released.
This yield below the target is due to a drift of the strike during the operation, in part because that coin was too large to enable a repetitive adjustment of the weight. Manufacturing is suspended. There will be no further 1794 $ 1 coin.
On September 30, 2015, Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's sold for $ 5M from a lower estimate of $ 3M the best silver dollar of the 1794 production batch, lot 2041. graded MS66+ by PCGS. It was sold for $ 6.6M by Heritage on August 18, 2021, lot 3021.
It had been the winner 35 years ago of a friendly confrontation by direct inspection with the only other example in the same grade.Its provenance explains its exemplary preservation.
The war with the former colonial power has been over since November 1783. English visitors are welcomed. A gentleman farmer named William Strickland later 6th Baron of Boynton arrived on September 20, 1794. This economist who comes to study prices and wages in the American agriculture is introduced in the best circles.
Strickland left back for England in July 1795 with a small collection including 35 federal coins that were most likely obtained by him directly at the US Mint.
Fallen in oblivion inside a Chippendale cabinet since the early 19th century, the Strickland collection remained in its original state without any addition. His two 1794 flowing hair dollars were among the best preserved of that type. The group surfaced in 1964 in an inventory by Christie, Manson and Woods in the property of the 4th Baron St. Oswald, descendant of Strickland's son-in-law. The dates of the coins stored in the box match the time spent by Strickland in the USA.
2017 SOLD for $ 2.8M by Stack's Bowers
The other dollar from that provenance comes immediately behind at position 4 in the condition census. Graded MS-64 by PCGS, it was sold for $ 2.8M by Stack's Bowers on August 3, 2017, lot 2113.
This first US dollar is extremely rare in perfect condition. Only six coins are certified Mint State by PCGS.
Please watch the video shared by Stack's Bowers from a post sale interview with Coin World.
1794 Half Dollar
2023 SOLD for $ 1.8M by Heritage
In its beginning the half dollar compensated the technical issues of the silver dollar, too big for a reliable operation of the screw press. Nevertheless the first obverse die of the half dollar failed, canceling the first production run, and the coins dated 1794 were delivered in December 1794 and 1795 for an overall total of about 23,500 1794 pieces.
A 1794 half dollar graded MS65+ by PCGS was sold for $ 1.8M by Heritage on January 12, 2023, lot 3698. The configuration of the reverse die cracks dates its minting to early 1795. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The production of the half dollar dated 1795 nearly reached 300,000 units while the production.of 1795 silver dollars was about 460,000.
This denomination went in competition with the first productions of the disme and quarter dollar in 1796. Users did not follow complicated values, not suitable for international trade.
The half dollar of 1796 and 1797 has the Draped Bust Small Eagle design, including another variation by the addition of a sixteenth star which marks Tennessee's entry into the Union. The minuscule total of 3,918 pieces overall for the two years can be explained by a desire for the factory to maintain the know-how despite the finding of an excess of silver in the available bullion.
A 1796 half dollar 16 stars graded MS66 by PCGS was sold for $ 1.8M by Heritage on January 12, 2023, lot 3700. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. It is nearly flawless in its strike and preservation in a beautiful range of tones.
The first silver coins of a quarter dollar were released in 1796 by the Philadelphia Mint. One of them, graded MS67+ by NGC, arguably the finest silver coin from that early period, was sold for $ 1.53M by Heritage on November 15, 2013, lot 33327. A coin graded MS66 by PCGS was sold for $ 1.74M by Heritage on January 13, 2022, lot 3755.
The production of half dollars dated 1797 is made in May, using broken dies which generate big cracks. The finest, graded MS66 by PCGS, was sold by Stack's Bowers for $ 1.68M on March 25, 2021, lot 4081. A coin graded MS65+ by PCGS was sold for $ 1.56M by Heritage on January 12, 2023, lot 3701. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
In August 1797 the yellow fever closes the factory, putting an end to this phase of mediocre production. At the reopening three months later, silver dollars and gold coins have priority. The half dollar is restarted in 1801 with a new heraldic eagle reverse. The quarter, discontinued after its first year, was restarted with the heraldic eagle in 1804.
The eagles dated 1795 were produced with the first gold stock delivered to the factory for this operation. That ten dollar coin shows a profile of Miss Liberty sided on the right and wearing a high cap, more suitable than the flowing hair to represent the new nation. On the perimeter of this face, the stars symbolize the states of the Union. On the other side, the eagle spreads its wings.
They are divided into five sub-variants according to the pairing of the front and back dies. The most visible difference is the number of leaves on the palm branch below the eagle on the reverse. These variants are explained by the difficulties of mechanical reproduction of the dies.
The first delivery of 744 half eagles is performed on July 31, 1795, followed on September 22 by the first 1,097 eagles. The production of eagles marked as 1795 lasts until March 1796 before the availability of the 1796 dies. Numismatists recognize five sub-variants of the 1795 eagle numbered BD-1 to BD-5 by Bass and Dannreuther, differentiated by the marriage of the dies while no chronology is established.
The quantities issued with the mark of 1795 are low : 8,707 half eagles and 5,583 eagles. The quarter eagle will wait for the following year. The double eagle, not defined in 1792, will be launched in 1849.
In commercial matters, success is not immediate. Eagles, even less suited for these transactions than the half eagles, did not extensively circulate and some coins remained in mint state while their early owners were waiting for better times.
The 16th star on the obverse will be added in 1796.
2022 SOLD for $ 3.36M by Heritage
About 20 examples of this variety are surviving. A reverse die break is probably the reason for a limited production run.
A BD-3 graded MS63+ by PCGS was sold for $ 3.36M by Heritage on January 13, 2022, lot 3793. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The die crack is already visible through the first T of STATES.
This ex Pogue coin was reported in the 2022 catalogue as the finest certified example. At that time the specimen in the Harry Bass Core Collection, which was on long term loan at the ANA Museum, was not yet certified.
The BD classification was established by Bass and Dannreuther. The BD-3 specimen that belonged to Bass was sold for $ 1.8M by Heritage on January 5, 2023, lot 9058, after a long term loan from the Harry Bass core collection to the ANA museum. The die break on the first T of STATES and the first A of AMERICA is already much advanced.
#HERITAGELIVE 1795 Capped Bust Right #Eagle, MS63+ Rare 9 Leaves, BD-3 Variety - the finest-certified example sold tonight for $3,360,000!— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 14, 2022
#JohnDannreuther calls this issue "the king of the Small Eagle type." https://t.co/cP0Uwq0zEA pic.twitter.com/4kOdt9TGTj
2015 SOLD for $ 2.6M by Stack's Bowers
The BD-5 variant, as rare as the BD-4, is topped by two MS65 coins, both sold by Heritage. One of them, graded by NGC, was sold for $ 680K on 9 August 2013. The other, graded by PCGS, was sold for $ 880K on 7 August 2014.
1796 No Stars on obverse Quarter Eagle
2022 SOLD for $ 2.16M by Heritage
The first design was the capped bust facing right, with no star in the obverse border. The 16 stars are on the other side over the newly designed heraldic eagle. In the following year the mint ceased to follow the ever changing number of states and standardized on the founding 13 colonies.
The variants with no star in the obverse are BD-1 and BD-2 in the classification of Bass and Dannreuther, taking into account a change in the reverse. An estimated 4 to 6 coins survive from the September run of 66 coins. The examples narrated below are from the December run of 897 coins in the BD-2 die marriage.
It was superseded by the with stars BD-3 variant with a mintage of 432 pieces released in January 1797 at the date of 1796.
The finest 1796 no stars quarter eagle is the ex Parmelee specimen, graded MS65 by PCGS. It was sold for $ 1.73M by Heritage on January 10, 2008, lot 3058.
A 1796 no stars quarter eagle was sold for $ 2.16M by Heritage on January 13, 2022, lot 3780. Graded MS62+ by PCGS, it has a great eye appeal.
#HERITAGELIVE 1796 BD-2 No Stars #QuarterEagle, MS62+, The sole second finest at PCGS, Ex: Jung'An American #Numismatic Treasure' sells for $2,160,000!— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 14, 2022
The Jung-Simpson specimen is the only MS62 piece with a Plus designation. https://t.co/MNuPpol5QX pic.twitter.com/phAYk3kxHK
1798 Half Eagle with Small Eagle Reverse
2023 SOLD for $ 1.98M by Heritage
The $ 5 half eagle was established in 1795 with the small eagle reverse. That chicken headed bird early provoked mockery and condemnation. Despite the laurels in its beak, it was not worthy of symbolizing the American ambition. Its successor whose chest is hidden by a coat of arms is named the heraldic eagle.
Design transitions have generated the rarest variants of the US coinage. Only six or seven examples are known of the 1798 half eagle variety with the small eagle on the reverse, with only three of them in Almost Uncirculated condition and none better.
This rarity is due to the use of a three year old die that should have already been obsoleted from production, resulting to some loss of detail and to a die crack. It was made in some hurry when the production restarted after the yellow fever of 1797 before the 1798 reverse dies were ready.
The best of these coins, graded AU55 by PCGS, ex King Farouk, was sold for $ 1.18M by Stack's Bowers on September 30, 2015, lot 2074 of the Part II of the D. Brent Pogue collection.
A tied second in the roster, graded AU53 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.98M by Heritage on August 10, 2023, lot 9030 of the Part IV of the Harry W. Bass, Jr core collection. Please watch the videos shared by the auction house.
In a lesser condition, another specimen became the most valuable coin in the world when it was sold at auction by Henry Chapman for $ 3,000 in June 1912. Another one was sold for $ 5,250 by B. Max Mehl in May 1922. Larger denominations were preferred by the collectors after Roosevelt's 1933 Gold Recall.
1808 Quarter Eagle
2015 SOLD for $ 2.35M by Stack's Bowers
The first sale of the Pogue collection, on May 19, 2015 by Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's, included a specimen in exceptional condition of the 1808 quarter eagle, lot 1128. It was sold for $ 2.35M from a lower estimate of $ 1.2M.
This coin is graded MS65 by PCGS. This dark yellow gold piece is in a remarkable state of preservation of the metal, with nice coppery or violet tonings. Struck with a great clarity that reveals the defects from the die, it is by far the best surviving coin in its class, considered as a masterpiece of US numismatics for over a century.