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The McCoy-Parmelee-Kern-Baldenhofer-Lee 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar

1794 $1 AU55 NGC. B-1, BB-1, R-4. The McCoy Collection Specimen, Martin Logies Condition Census #10. A beautiful example of our first silver dollar coined at the Philadelphia Mint. The coin is toned a deep gunmetal gray and blue, with traces of luster in the protected areas. The strike is exceptional for a 1794 silver dollar, as the date, stars and even the dentils are clearly defined on the left side, an area which is notoriously weak on this issue. As nearly always found there are some adjustment marks, but they are much lighter than usual and located along the reverse rim, and these will serve to hallmark this particular coin. Examination of the surfaces will find little to fault this piece, as the rims, fields and devices have come down to us in excellent shape. Historically we note that W. Elliot Woodward catalogued this same coin in 1864 and stated in the McCoy sale "This specimen is unfortunately blemished by having the name 'Andrew Spence' pricked into the field of the coin, and some figures on the head, produced by the same process." These marks have since been removed very skillfully and no discernible evidence remains save for a few minor imperfections behind Liberty's head. Employing a 10X loupe fails to locate any evidence of this past transgression, or its undoing, and thus this particular coin has left behind the past and moved into the modern realm of third party grading, as well it should. Certainly one of the nicest 1794 silver dollars to survive, and a coin which any collector will long appreciate. Note the depth of Liberty's hair and her unblemished cheek and neck. The reverse is a delight with the strong wing details on the eagle, only the breast shows any wear on the high points. Well defined on the wreath and berries too, with just a hint of weakness at the tops of STA which was likely caused by the adjustment marks and the strike.
Of the 1,758 coined, extensive research conducted by Jack Collins (1993) and later updated and published by Martin Logies has found that approximately 135 specimens of 1794 silver dollars exist today. Of these, the vast majority are in much lower grades, and many have been plugged, repaired or otherwise enhanced. Demand has always been quite strong for this issue, it is the first silver dollar struck by the Philadelphia Mint, and as a silver dollar it is the basic unit of coinage. A small number were coined and most entered circulation. Unlike many other popular rarities, these were not made for collectors but were coined simply to serve in the channels of commerce. George Washington was President when these were struck. To survive, a 1794 silver dollar would have to have been randomly set aside or lost and later recovered after these were no longer in circulation. The mere fact that every known specimen has been tracked is a testament to the great rarity and importance of this issue. Coin collectors of all sorts need or desire an example, some want one simply because these were the first silver dollars coined, others need one to represent the first year of issue for their type collections, many are needed by Bust dollar collectors to represent the date and die pairing. Constant pressure keeps demand for this date very high, and new price records seem to be achieved with the sale of each specimen. This particular coin is truly a delight to behold, and while not quite mint state, it is fairly close to that grade level and any collector would be honored to own this classic American icon.
In a letter to this cataloger, Numismatist and Early Silver Dollar specialist W. David Perkins wrote:
Enclosed is a partial scan of Bolender's invoice (on his stationery) for the Ostheimer - Baldenhofer - Kern - Col. Green - Woodin - Newcomer - Granberg (etc.) 1794 Dollar. As you know, I acquired the extensive early dollar correspondence of the Ostheimers, including this invoice, directly from Mrs. Ostheimer about a year ago.
This invoice was accompanied by a letter from Bolender dated December 28, 1959, stating in part, "Enclosed please find the final list of the dollar collection, revised and adjusted as explained in my letter to you under date of Dec. 22nd."
Unknown to most numismatists, Bolender purchased en bloc the silver dollar collection of W. G. Baldenhofer of Springfield, Ohio in December 1959. This invoice included the majority of the extensive collection of silver dollars formed by Baldenhofer: Early dollars 1794-1803; Gobrecht and Seated Dollars (mostly in Proof); Trade Dollars; Morgan and Peace Dollars. There were 285 silver dollars in total. It is interesting to note that this 1794 Dollar alone will realize multiples of the total price that the Ostheimers paid for the entire Baldenhofer silver dollar collection 45 years ago!
The pedigree is consistent with the pedigree as noted in the unpublished Jack Collins manuscript on 1794 Dollars. The pedigree as listed by Bolender reads, "1794 B-1 Unc. Formerly in the collections of H. A. (sic) Granberg of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Waldo Newcomer of Baltimore, Maryland, banker, William H. Woodin, Col. Green, Jerome Kern. One of the 3 or 4 best known, very rare." [Note that at this time the two "Lord St. Oswald" 1794 Dollars were unknown, both called Mint State today.] The Ostheimer's cost from Bolender for this specimen was $6,250.00. Bolender noted in his estimate that "their present approximate fair value" was $8,200.00. The $6,250.00 represents a 25% discount for the coin. The Ostheimer's purchased the entire Baldenhofer silver dollar collection at 25% off Bolender's estimates.
Lastly, the pedigree in the Collin's manuscript lists Catherine Bullova as a previous owner. Per a conversation I had with her at the Philadelphia ANA Convention a few years ago I don't believe she ever owned this specimen. She had seen this specimen, but to the best of my knowledge did not ever own it.
John F. McCoy Collection (W. Elliott Woodward, 1864); Joseph Zanoni; James Ten Eyck; Mortimer Livingston MacKenzie (Edward Cogan, 1869), lot 15; Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin and Stamp, 1890), lot 681; H. O. Granberg; William H. Woodin; Waldo Newcomer; Col. E. H. R. Green; Jerome Kern; Clint Hester; W. G. Baldenhofer; Alfred J. and Jackie Ostheimer; Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 2001), lot 324.
From The Jack Lee Collection, III(#6851) (Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 24WY, PCGS# 6851)

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Auction Dates
November, 2005
3rd-5th Thursday-Saturday
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