Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 41

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Lot 1300

1794 Flowing Hair Dollar. Sharpness of EF-40. Some tooling in the hair and marks on the obverse. Signs of light obverse scratches. The date is strong for this year and the eagle has nice details. A newly discovered coin which might be new to the population of this important date. The left side legends on the obverse and the reverse are weakly struck as usual. A pleasing coin and always in demand.

An historic coin, the standard or "Unit" of America's monetary system and the first silver dollar issued at the First Philadelphia Mint. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792 authorized the production of silver dollars of 416 grains weight, with silver content of 371.25 grains, equivalent to .89243 fine. The framers of the Mint Act of 1792, mindful of Alexander Hamilton's Report of January 28, 1791, chose the gross weight of 416 grains and the pure silver content of 371-1/4 grains for the silver dollar, and other silver coins in preparation, to match the average weight of Spanish and Mexican Carolus dollars then in circulation.

The dies for the 1794 dollars are almost certainly the work of Robert Scot, a medallist and die sinker. After the death of Joseph Wright, to Scot fell the task of cutting the dies for coinage, including the 1794 flowing hair dollar. In November 1794, John Smith Gardner was hired as his assistant, but by this time the initial delivery of silver dollars had been accomplished. Probably, Gardner worked on some of the 1795 and later dies.

Known silver dollars dated 1794 are from a single pair of dies and are believed to have been made to the extent of, perhaps, 2,000 coins (Walter H. Breen's estimate), of which 1,758 pieces were considered to be satisfactory delivered by the coiner on October 15, 1794. (The remaining impressions, possibly amounting to 242 coins, rejected as being too weak, probably were kept on hand for later use as planchets. Supporting this theory is the existence of at least one 1795 silver dollar (BB-14) plainly overstruck on a 1794 dollar.)

The obverse and reverse die faces were not set properly in the coining press, with the result that on almost all pieces surviving today the lower left obverse side appears weaker than the upper right obverse side, with corresponding weakness and strength on the opposite areas of the reverse. As the die faces remained out of parallel after having been removed from the press for resurfacing and removal of clash marks, and re-inserted in the press, the cause of the maladjustment must have been that the face of one die (or, less likely, both) was not perpendicular to its shank.

Today, the 1794 dollar is renowned the world over as a great classic American piece of history, not only because it is rare, but because it ranks as the first silver dollar issued by the United States of America. From time immemorial, coin auction sales on a large scale in the 1860s, to the present day, the appearance of a 1794 silver dollar in an auction usually has provided the opportunity for collectors gather together to discuss the coin and its background. Similarly, 1794 dollars have occupied the spotlight in numerous auctions throughout the years (PCGS # 6851) .
Estimated Value $80,000 - 90,000.

Realized $86,250

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