1793 The Political Failure of the First Cent
2015 SOLD for $ 2.35M including premium
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, but its presentation to the general public prohibited any risk of political misunderstanding. However, we must admit that the designer was not skillful. The confidential testing of the Continental Dollar in 1776 had included the ability to fill the circle with a motto or a heraldic figure, and its dotted round links were soft. With its aggressive oval links, the chain cent was really unacceptable.
The Philadelphia Mint immediately appreciated the blunder. The chain cent was used during 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.
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. The Eliasberg specimen of chain cent, graded MS65 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1,38M including premium by Heritage on 4 January 2012.
Another of the best chain cents had not appeared at public auction since 1890. It is for sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 7, lot 4011, graded MS66 by PCGS just above the grade of the Eliasberg specimen. This piece is remarkable for its bold strike and perfect readability uncommon in old copper coins.
1793 The United States of Ameri
2019 SOLD for $ 1.5M including premium
Mass production will begin with the One Cent in pure copper. The United States had produced from 1787 in 400,000 units a coin of this value, the Fugio cent, 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.
The new coin is actually released on the scheduled day, in 11,178 units. Its design provokes an immediate reprobation at the factory and then another one in the public for another reason. 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. This unacceptable blunder is corrected for the rest of the production.
Also on the reverse, the figure displays the chain of solidarity between the States, on the model of the Fugio. The circular links of the Fugio are however replaced by oval links that the public understands as a chain of slavery. The production run of this 'Chain Cent' ends on March 12 after delivering a total of 36,103 pieces. In the face of the outcry, the Mint is preparing another drawing, the Wreath Cent.
The Chain Ameri are thus the very first coins available for trading under the act of 1792. On January 10 in Orlando, Heritage sells as lot 4312 a coin in a sensational 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.
1793 The Adventures of the Early Large Cent
2012 SOLD 1.38 M$ including premium
2018 SOLD for $ 990K including premium
The small cent was not industrially feasible but this coinage was eagerly awaited. The development of the large cent has certainly been done in great emergency. When it is emitted on March 1, 1793 several blunders remain in its text and drawing.
This model is known as the Chain cent describing the circle of rings at the center of the reverse to symbolize the fifteen States. The correction is feverish. No less than three changes are made in less than two weeks, probably by at least two engravers who have not been identified. These four variants are numbered S-1 to S-4 in Sheldon's nomenclature.
The adventure of the production of the Chain cent ends on March 12. 36,103 pieces had been released which corresponds to a total monetary value of 361 dollars only but that was enough to trigger the political scandal : under the pressure of the opinion it is impossible to continue with this reverse which can evoke a chain of slavery.
The S-4 has removed the 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-4 MS66 Brown was sold for $ 2.35M including premium by Heritage on January 7, 2015, an S-2 MS65 Brown for $ 1M including premium by Stack's Bowers on January 22, 2013 and an S-3 MS65 Red and Brown for $ 1M including premium by Stack's Bowers on February 9, 2016. The best ranked Chain cent is an S-4 SP (specimen) 67 Brown. The grades listed above were awarded by PCGS.
An S-4 graded MS65 Brown by PCGS has already been discussed in this column. It was sold for $ 1.38M including premium by Heritage on January 4, 2012. It will be sold as lot 3776 by Heritage in Long Beach on June 14. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1794 Preparation of the Dollar
2013 SOLD for $ 10 M including premium
Within two years after the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, the preparation of the silver dollar has not yet started. Hurry up. A pair of dies is created on a design by Robert Scot and a first trial is made in copper. One prototype has survived. It was sold for $ 92K by Goldberg on February 16, 2001.
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 including premium at auction by Stack's Bowers on January 24, 2013, lot 13094. It is estimated $ 8M for sale on October 8 at Las Vegas by 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.
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.
The world’s most valuable US coin, that last sold for $10,000,000, is set to appear in an auction again later this year. @LegendAuctions has announced the sale of the Bruce Morelan Collection, an assemblage of #coins valued in total at over $20,000,000. https://t.co/418pbp9URE— PCGS (@PCGScoin) June 17, 2020
1794 The Silver Dollar of Lord St. Oswald
2015 SOLD for $ 5M including premium
Two years later, the Philadelphia plant tries the first production of the silver dollar. The technical difficulties concerned the officials to the point that the preparation is confidential and not documented. The issue is to achieve a perfect strike with the exact weight and purity required by the Congress.
Ingots are bought to cover $ 2,000 in the new coinage. The production is done in one day, 15 October 1794. 1758 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.
The first coins are admirable. Only one survivor is ranked as a specimen. Its mint preservation is because it was originally stored in the factory's archives. This coin graded MS66 by PCGS was sold for $ 10M including premium by Stack's Bowers on January 24, 2013.
On September 30 in New York, Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's sells the best silver dollar of 1794, graded MS66+ by PCGS, winner 30 years ago of a friendly confrontation by direct inspection with the only other example in the same grade. It is estimated beyond $ 3M, lot 2041.
It is not a works specimen. Its provenance explains its exemplary preservation.
An Englishman named William Strickland visited the United States from 20 September 1794 to 29 July 1795. He acquired coins in mint state at a time when production was not yet sufficient to really start a circulation. The box containing the treasure was stored in a Chippendale coin cabinet in England and fell into oblivion.
The box surfaces in 1964 when the cabinet is opened for the auction by Christie, Manson and Woods of the collection of Lord St. Oswald. The dates of the coins stored in the box correspond with the time spent by Strickland in the USA.
1794 The Dollars of the English Lords
2017 SOLD for $ 2.8M including premium
The best survivors of today had therefore also been among the first struck. There is no doubt about the Cardinal specimen. Benefiting from an exceptional silver polishing and a perfect striking that was probably individually made, this prestige dollar was sold for $ 10M including premium by Stack's Bowers on January 24, 2013.
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. The group surfaced in 1964 in an inventory for a sale from the property of the 4th Baron St Oswald, descendant of Strickland's son-in-law.
Forgotten 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 are among the most spectacular of that type. One of them graded Mint State 66+ by PCGS is the best behind the Cardinal specimen. It was sold for $ 5M including premium by Stack's Bowers on September 30, 2015. A coin from another provenance got the same PCGS grade.
The other dollar from the collection of the Lords comes immediately behind at position 4 in the condition census. Graded MS-64 by PCGS, it will be sold by Stack's Bowers in Denver on August 3, lot 2113.
This first US dollar is extremely rare in mint state. In addition to the four units discussed above, only two are classified as mint by PCGS, in slightly lower grades : MS-63 + and MS-62 +.
Please watch the video shared by Stack's Bowers from a post sale interview with Coin World.
1795 Gold in Philadelphia
2015 SOLD for $ 2.6M including premium
The first delivery of 744 half eagles is performed on July 31, 1795, followed on September 22 by the first 1097 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 1 to 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 : 8707 half eagles and 5583 eagles. The quarter eagle will wait for the following year. The double eagle, not defined in 1792, will be launched in 1849. The Americans hoped that the half eagle competes in the international market with the British guinea, the louis from France, the Portuguese 4,000 reis and the Spanish 2 escudos.
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.
An eagle graded MS66+ by PCGS is undeniably the best 1795 example by the beauty of its color and the quality of its strike. It belongs to the rare BD-4 variant. It is estimated $ 750K for sale on September 30 in New York by Stack's Bowers in association with Sotheby's, lot 2092.
The BD-5 variant, as rare as the BD-4, is dominated by two MS65 coins, both recently sold by Heritage. One of them, graded by NGC, was sold for $ 680K including premium on 9 August 2013. The other, graded by PCGS, was sold for $ 880K including premium on 7 August 2014.
1796 The Finest American Silver Coin
2013 SOLD 1.53 M$ including premium
This piece in mint condition is graded MS67+ by NGC. From that time when coins from first strike (proof coins) were not yet attracting private collectors, it is even better : a specimen made with highest care to get the best possible sample. Both sides had a double striking and the reeding was made with a special planchet. It is also perfectly centered.
The result is spectacular, both for the accuracy of the carving and for the color. It was made with new dies, and the line is so sharp that experts perceive tiny cracks from the tools that are no longer detectable on subsequent coins of lesser quality.
On both sides, the color is typical of an old silver coin that has never circulated, in an elegant gradient slightly bluish on the borders and bright yellow-orange on the figures.
1796 Early Silver Fractions of the Dollar
2015 SOLD for $ 1.53M including premium
The half disme is the value used for the first experimental production and then comes back in 1794. The half dollar begins in 1794. These first two small silver denominations are produced in 1794 and 1795 in the flowing hair variant of Miss Liberty.
The design changes in 1796 for the new obverse variant with the draped bust. The disme and the quarter dollar appear for the first time on that year. The half dollar is interrupted from 1798 to 1800 inclusive and the quarter from 1797 to 1803 inclusive. Their reverse variant is the small eagle as opposed to the heraldic eagle that will supersede it when the production of these values will restart.
The exceptional Pogue collection includes three of the best examples of these ancient draped bust fractions of the dollar. They will be sold without reserve at the first session by Stack's Bowers in New York on May 19 in association with Sotheby's.
The first quarter dollars had not been successful, which explains the early shutdown of their production. The lot 1051, estimated $ 750K, graded MS66 by PCGS, is one of the best specimens of this rare variant limited to 1796.
The 1797 half dollar at lot 1103 is also graded MS66 by PCGS. With its stunning visual appeal, it is the most desirable part in its class, estimated $ 1.2 million.
Throughout the history of its provenance, it has almost never been separated from a half dollar of the same grade from the only other year of this variant, 1796, which is estimated $ 775K at lot 1102. The ephemeral feature of this 1796 coin modified to sixteen stars for welcoming Tennessee in the Union is highly rare.
RESULTS including premium :
1796 half dollar : $ 820K
1796 quarter dollar : $ 1.53M
1797 half dollar : $ 1.53M
1796 Quarter Eagle
2021 SOLD for $ 1.38M including premium by Heritage
1796 $2 1/2 Stars on Obverse, BD-3, High R.5, MS65 PCGS. CAC, one of 40 or 50 believed to have survived from the With Stars issue, of which as few as perhaps 10 qualify for Mint State classification, sparks a flurry of bids & brings in $1,380,000! https://t.co/IkB6XmH1pA pic.twitter.com/H4Nbo1ks19— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 21, 2021
1797 Cracks and Yellow Fever
2015 SOLD for $ 1.53M including premium by Stack's Bowers
It appears that the half dollars and quarter dollars, defined by the Coinage Act of 1792, were not a priority in the productions of the Philadelphia Mint. The half dollar was created in 1794. A little over 300,000 coins were issued in the first two years. This value was in competition with the first productions of the dime and quarter dollar in 1796. Users did not follow complicated denominations, inconvenient for international trade : the quarter dollar was discontinued after its very first year.
The half dollar continues as best it can to the date of 1796, with the new Draped Bust Small Eagle design, in two variations by the addition of a sixteenth star which marks Tennessee's entry into the Union. The minuscule total, less than 2,000 pieces, 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.
The production dated 1797 is made in May for a total quantity of 2,984 pieces, using broken dies which generate big cracks. In August, yellow fever closes the factory, putting an end to this phase of mediocre production. At the reopening three months later, silver dollar and gold coins have priority. The half dollar is restarted in 1801 with a new heraldic eagle reverse.
A 1797 half dollar graded MS 65+ by PCGS was sold for $ 1.38M including premium by Stack's in July 2008 and for $ 1.3M including premium by Heritage on August 9, 2014. The finest coin, graded MS 66 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.53M including premium by Stack's Bowers in cooperation with Sotheby's on May 19, 2015, lot 1103, and will be sold by Stack's Bowers in Las Vegas on March 25, 2021, lot 4081.