Press Release - July 11, 2004

Unique 1795 Silver Dollar Struck Over Previous 1794 Silver Dollar to Sell In Heritage ANA Signature Auction

Dallas, Texas: Heritage Numismatic Auctions will be offering a unique 1795 silver dollar struck over a previously struck 1794 silver dollar in its official ANA Signature Auction taking place in Pittsburgh, August 18-21. This amazing coin was recently graded AU53 by NGC and identified as the Bolender-4 or Bowers-Borckardt 14 variety. The ANA auction will also feature a number of additional early silver dollars.

This overstrike is not a new discovery, having been known since 1961; however, has been little publicized since that time. This coin was originally acquired by Walter Breen from an unidentified West Coast dealer at the March 1961 convention of the Numismatic Association of Southern California. Since that time, it has appeared for sale in a public auction only two other times. The upcoming Heritage auction will provide an extremely important opportunity for the early silver dollar specialist. In addition to its appeal as a great rarity, this is also an attractive specimen with only very light wear and nearly all mint luster. Both sides display lovely pewter gray surfaces with attractive iridescent toning.

The specific circumstances under which this coin was made are not specifically known today, although it is unlikely that it was a mint error, and was probably produced intentionally in 1795. Walter Breen believed that this dollar was one of a quantity of left over 1794 silver dollars that were not released after being struck. He explained his belief that 2,000 silver dollars were actually coined in 1794, with only 1,758 of those actually delivered for use, with the remaining 242 coins held back by the mint and used as "planchets" in 1795.

Early silver dollar specialist Mark Borckardt, who recently joined Heritage as a Senior Cataloger stated: "Breen's theory is highly doubtful as the mint was required to deliver coins to depositors in the order that these deposits were received. Any additional coins or left over silver would almost certainly have been used as silver bullion to produce 1794 half dollars which were first produced on December 1, 1794, just six weeks after the 1794 silver dollars were coined."

Other theories have been also been proposed. When Kagin's offered this coin in their August 1987 auction, they suggested that it may have been overstruck as a simple money-saving method, citing similar situations with ruined large cent impressions (error large cents) that were cut-down and used as "planchets" for half cents. This also does not seem logical for the same reasons regarding deposits and deliveries of silver in the 1790s.

Borckardt subscribes to the theory that this was actually a set-up piece for newly created 1795 silver dollar dies, either to test their placement in the coining press, or to ensure that these dies were actually completed with all design elements engraved. Normally, such a set-up piece would have made use of a blank planchet, which would then have gone immediately into a new delivery of coins, assuming all was correct with the dies and the press. If, however, planchets were not yet prepared, a single previously struck dollar may have been available and used as such a set-up piece. This scenario would bridge the gap between early United States coins for circulation and pattern coinage and suggest that this may be one of the very few pattern coins of the first United States Mint.

Regardless of the actually production scenario, this is one of the most exciting and historically important early silver dollars to appear in the current marketplace.

Featured collections in Heritage's August Pittsburgh ANA Signature Sale include the Karl Scheible Collection of first year of issue coins, Part Three of the Paulsboro Collection, Part Two of the Harold W. Anderson Collection, Part Two of The Del Rio Collection; The Frank O. Fredericks Collection, Part Five; The Greenwich Collection, Part Two; The Dr. Frank Lanza Collection; The JFS Collection, Part Two; and The John Michael Stuart Collection.

Images, descriptions, and prices realized from past auctions are available in the Permanent Auction Archives.

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