See also : Coin Coins 1793-99 Coins 1800-49 Coins 1850-69 Coins 1870-99 20th century coins Dollars and eagles
Chronology : 1790-1799 1830-1839
2013 SOLD for $ 10 M 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.
ex Strickland and Lord St. Oswald
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.
The 1794 #FlowingHairDollar is a storied rarity that requires no introduction. From a tiny mintage of only 1,758 coins comes his amazing PCGS MS66+ example with CAC approval.— Heritage Auctions - Coins (@heritagecoins) August 11, 2021
Lot No. 3021 I August 18 - 22 ANA WFOM #USCoins Signature Sale No. 1333 https://t.co/qcsEAGrCyw pic.twitter.com/o5QtxpmqE1
ex Strickland and Lord St. Oswald
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.
The 1804 Dollar
Among the diplomatic gifts, the Americans define a box that will contain an example of each of the coin denominations in circulation. The cumulative face value of the ten samples is derisory : $ 19.415. The double eagle did not yet exist.
The target is indeed to demonstrate the quality of proof coins produced in the United States. This prestige finish had been used sparingly since 1801 for silver, 1817 for copper and 1820 for gold. A 1821 quarter eagle graded PR64 Cameo by PCGS was sold for $ 240K by Heritage in January 2007.
For the largest silver and gold coins, $ 1 and $ 10 respectively, President Jefferson suspended production in 1804 to curb speculation, while maintaining their circulation. For these two denominations, the Philadelphia Mint decides to supply coins inscribed 1804 rather than 1834 which would be illegal. These coins will necessarily be a new build, to display the proof finish in mint condition.
Two dollars and two eagles were thus minted at the end of 1834. Both sets were delivered by Roberts in 1835 at their scheduled destination. The monarchs did not handle their gifts, of course. Their dollars are graded by PCGS PR 68 for the Muscat and PR 67 for the Siam which is still in its presentation box.
Meanwhile the Secretary of State had decided that Roberts must extend his mission up to Cochin China and Japan. Two additional sets are assembled in April 1835 just in time before his departure. Of course two new 1804 eagles and two new 1804 dollars are minted. A tiny defect in the eagle die has been repaired in the mean time. It is not known what happened to these two sets after the death of Roberts in Macau in June 1836. It is probable that a member of the crew caught them discreetly.
Another strike of 1804 dollars is made in an unidentified year. They are made with the same pair of dies. Four of these coins survive. There will be no further 1804 eagles, which is supporting a recent hypothesis that the four supernumerary 1804 dollars are patterns unrelated to the Roberts mission and not a mere additional strike for the archives of the Mint.
These eight silver dollars are together designated as the 1804 Class I dollars. They are a flagship of American numismatics by the quality of the execution of the Roberts specimens. The wear of the reference image of Liberty, designed in 1795, is not a numismatic defect.
The reason for the Class II and Class III restrikes of the 1804 dollar in the late 1850s is not clear.
1834 The Muscat Dollar
2021 SOLD for $ 7.7M by Stack's Bowers
The Sultan of Oman is an important Arabian monarch who controls the trade in the Horn of Africa which is a major passage to the Orient. His capital is Muscat.
The silver dollar is the symbol of the American currency and should be the focus of the gift. New dies are created from the punches that began to rust after three decades of storage. The date 1804 is selected because it is the latest that is legal.
The first class I 1804 dollar is struck in November or December 1834 with great care so that this brand new piece of silver shall dazzle the Sultan of Muscat when he opens the box. The government is enthusiastic about the project of Roberts and a similar gift is simultaneously prepared for the King of Siam.
Roberts presented the box to the Sultan on October 1, 1835, the day following the signing of the treaty of friendship between both states. This exceptional coin has been kept in mint condition. It is graded Proof 68 by PCGS. The image below has been downloaded a few years ago from Wikimedia.
The prestige of this piece with coin collectors is further increased by the fact that it is the very first silver dollar on the date of 1804. At the time of the Jefferson's 1804 suspension the dollars produced earlier in that year were still using the dies dated from the previous year.
Please watch the videos shared by Stack's Bowers in 2018 and 2021.
1835 1804 Dollar possibly prepared for Roberts' second batch
2017 SOLD for $ 3.3M by Stack's Bowers
This coin had surfaced in Germany in 1884 with no identified history and was at that time the subject of a dispute of authenticity closed by an official statement in its favor issued by the US Mint. Moreover the hues of its patina and the perfect condition of its reverse suggest that this coin has long been preserved in a box identical to those offered to the two sovereigns. It is therefore probably one of the last two silver dollars of Roberts' voyage.
1831-1836 1804 Dollar for the use of the Mint
2020 SOLD for $ 3.36M by Stack's Bowers
In 1842 two managers of the Mint, DuBois and Eckfeldt, publish an illustrated manual devoted to gold and silver coins. The collector Matthew Stickney is puzzled. Plate II includes, among other coins, without further explanation, a 1804 dollar. According to official records, 19,570 dollars were minted in 1804. Stickney had never found a mere one.
In the following year Stickney manages to obtain a specimen kept at the Mint in exchange for a lot containing a 1785 Immune Columbia gold cent. This dollar, graded PR 65 by PCGS, is one of the two finest 1804 Class I after the copies offered to the kings. It was sold for $ 1.8M in April 1997 by Bowers and Merena, and for $ 3.36M on December 17, 2020 by Stack's Bowers, successor to Bowers and Merena, lot 1094.
It became evident after Stickney's intervention that dies from earlier years had been used in 1804 until it was ordered to stop this denomination, and that no dollar with the date 1804 was minted before the 1831 restart authorization.
1831-1836 1804 Dollar for the use of the Mint
2013 SOLD for $ 3.9M by Heritage
Please watch the video shared by Heritage. The image below has been downloaded a few years ago from Wikimedia.
1858-1859 Class III Restrike of the 1804 Silver Dollar
2009 SOLD for $ 2.3M by Heritage
The 1804 dollar is the last model made before the suspension of production of the silver dollar which will last until 1836. The 19,570 coins declared in the annual report for 1804 have always remained untraceable, creating fabulous myths like the disappearance of the entire production in a shipwreck. The tools existed nevertheless at the factory and had been kept.
The production of silver dollars had already been low in 1803, allowing an extension of the use of the dies. The one dollar coins announced in 1804 in the annual report were certainly struck with dies from previous years, perhaps due to a too late availability of the dies on the date of 1804 which will remain unused until the Class I.
In 1834 the government requests two specimens of each of the denominations of US coinage in the current year or the last year of production as applicable, to constitute inexpensive diplomatic gifts for the king of Siam and the sultan of Muscat. The factory does not have an 1804 dollar in stock. It is easy to recreate a few copies : this is the Class I, of which eight units are known, probably representing the entire production.
One of these copies is used in 1842 to illustrate a manual published by two employees of the Mint, Eckfeldt and DuBois. Collectors are going crazy. The factory accepts an exchange with one of them in 1843, recovering the unique example from a bygone gold coin project of 1785 with the inscription Immune Columbia.
The Class II restrike is created at the factory in 1858. It was a poor quality unauthorized operation intended to make profit from the greed of collectors. The Mint requests to recover them. Three are destroyed and one is kept as a specimen at the factory. No other Class II is known. The only surviving piece was struck on a Swiss thaler from 1857, with a plain edge.
The idea of producing restrikes goes up to the highest level of the hierarchy. In 1859 the Mint director JR Snowden tries in vain to obtain an authorization from the Treasury for such operations.
The production of Class III at the Philadelphia factory is indisputable, probably from 1858 or 1859. The blundering lettering will be done late on the previously struck pieces, which could have been earlier Class II made on blank planchets and remaining at the factory. The first Class III surfaced in 1876, tending to prove that the illicit uses of this variant had been successfully blocked until that date.
Four Class III have been artificially worn by rubbing in a pocket to make it look like authentic coins made in 1804. The batch was however made with a proof finish which did not exist before 1817.
A Class III graded PR58 by PCGS was sold for $ 2.3M by Heritage on April 30, 2009, lot 2567.
A Class III graded PR55 by PCGS was sold by Stack's Bowers for $ 1.88M on August 6, 2014, lot 13146 and for $ 1.44M on March 20, 2020, lot 7304.
1885 Trade Dollar
In 1878 the drop in price of silver bullion generates speculation and the commercial applications of the Trade dollar are halted. Until 1883 a limited activity is maintained at the Philadelphia Mint for the use of collectors. The Trade dollar is abolished in 1887.
The production of 264 units in January 1884 is recorded in the archives of the Mint. In February the government forbids these pieces to be offered to the public and they are melted. The 1884 dies, however, were not destroyed until January 1885, as if the factory had been waiting for a government counter-order. There was a precedent, the 1878 muddle, when the production of circulation trade dollars was restarted on bad arguments after being banned.
The existence of 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars was not revealed in period. Ten 1884 Trade dollars appeared on the market from 1908 in the circle of John Haseltine, a dealer specializing in coins from the special operations of the Mint.
Five 1885 trade dollars have survived. Physically, this coin is identical to the 1884 trade dollar except for the date. It was made in Philadelphia using factory production methods and cannot be a novodel.
They were not recorded at the Mint. Unknown to the factory cashier, they were probably test pieces for a production that was never authorized, which would explain the omission of internal records. Meanwhile the Democrat Grover Cleveland had become president, and the position of the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, the Republican A. Louden Snowden, was becoming untenable. He resigned, or was forced to resign, in June 1885.
In 1908 the dealer John Haseltine announced at the ANA Convention the existence of the 1884 trade dollar, which some numismatists close to the factory had supposed. The 1885 trade dollar was still unsuspected at that time.
Snowden used to keep samples from plant operations during his superintendence. In 1909 he needed money and sold to the collector William Woodin through Haseltine the jewel of his treasure, the only two $ 50 gold coins made in 1877 for a project of union ($ 100) and half union ($ 50) in the context of the development of the gold standard. The project had been abandoned for reasons of technical feasibility.
The fact that the two half unions were still in private hands caused an uproar, and the sale was canceled after a legal action. Snowden took back the two pieces which were immediately returned to the Mint by donation or confiscation. After an amicable settlement, Snowden, unable to pay Woodin in cash, gave him his hoard in 1910.
This transaction was not the subject of an inventory but there is no doubt that the four 1884 trade dollars which had not belonged to Haseltine and the five 1885 trade dollars were part of the lot. All of these pieces were brought to the market by associates of Woodin between 1911 and 1915.
Produced in Philadelphia before the cancellation of the Trade dollars, the 1885 Trade dollar is classified as a regular coinage. It has the same rarity as the 1913 Liberty nickel.
2019 SOLD for $ 3.96M by Heritage
In the same grade the second best 1884 Trade dollar, which had also belonged to Eliasberg, was sold for $ 1.14M in the same 2019 sale, lot 4552.
Please watch the videos shared by the auction house for the 1885 (below) and for the 1884 (linked).
2021 SOLD for $ 2.1M by Heritage
A coin graded PR63+ Cameo by PCGS was sold for $ 2.1M by Heritage on January 20, 2021, lot 3030.
#HeritageLive: The 1885 T$1 Trade PR63+ Cameo PCGS. CAC, one of the greatest and most coveted rarities in United States coinage, soars to $2,100,000 at our FUN #US Coins Signature Auction. https://t.co/we3GkoJhCy#auctionupdate #Numismatics #HACoins pic.twitter.com/ChHd9rqkVt— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) January 20, 2021