Historic 1794 B-1, BB-1 Silver Dollar, AU55
1794 $1 AU55 NGC. B-1, BB-1, R.4. The McCoy Collection
Specimen. With a continuous provenance dating back to 1864, this
piece is one of the most historic 1794 silver dollars among the 135
or so pieces currently known. Martin A. Logies compiled a
significant study of 1794 silver dollars, The Flowing Hair
Silver Dollars of 1794, published in 2004. He recorded
provenance details and additional information about 125 different
specimens, with nearly all illustrated. Years earlier, the late
Jack Collins spent 25 years studying the 1794 silver dollars, and
his work resulted in an unpublished manuscript, 1794 The History
and Genealogy of the First United States Dollar. Only Collins'
untimely death prevented publication of the nearly complete
manuscript. Collins recorded details of about 117 different 1794
silver dollars in his manuscript.
10th-Finest Specimen, Continuous
Provenance Dating to 1864
Combining the two references and adding a couple of specimens, we now have an accounting of 132 different 1794 dollars, including this coin, which we consider the 10th finest. Based on the current provenance record, the present specimen was only the third 1794 dollar to appear on the numismatic scene. The British Museum owns an example that dates to 1818, and a second example appeared in an 1863 W. Elliot Woodward Sale. Two coins from the St. Oswald sale of 1964 reportedly date to the time they were minted, although such a provenance is unfounded.
The provenance reads like a numismatic Who's Who, beginning with John F. McCoy, a collector known for his excellent cabinet of Colonial coins and large cents. The buyer at the 1864 Woodward sale of the McCoy Collection was Joseph Zanoni, whose collection Edward Cogan sold in April 1867. James Ten Eyck of Albany, New York, and Mortimer Livingston Mackenzie were subsequent owners. Mackenzie, of New York City, was best known for his large cent collection, and he provided access to certain 1793 varieties for the famous Levick plate published in the 1869 American Journal of Numismatics.
Edward Cogan's 1869 sale of the Mackenzie Collection was the first photographically illustrated auction catalog in America. E. Harrison Sanford purchased the Mackenzie 1794 dollar and held it for a little over five years until Edward Cogan again handled this piece when he sold the Sanford Collection in November 1874. The next owner was Lorin G. Parmelee (1827-1905), who is known as a bread maker and bean baker in Boston. He became well known for his Boston Baked Beans, and in the 1850s began his coin collection by searching his daily receipts. Parmelee went on to form a magnificent cabinet.
Acquiring this piece next was Henry O. Granberg (1860-1947), a Norwegian who lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Granberg also formed a remarkable cabinet, including an 1804 silver dollar. Much of his collection was sold to William H. Woodin, a railroad man from Pennsylvania who served as Secretary of the Treasury during the Franklin Roosevelt administration, from March 5 to December 31, 1933. Woodin was known for his adventures in the field of pattern coins, and he was the collector who returned two gold fifty dollar "half union" patterns to the government, the coins now held at the Smithsonian Institution.
Waldo Newcomer was next to acquire this 1794 dollar. Newcomer was a Baltimore banker, serving as president of the National Exchange Bank and CEO of the Baltimore Trust Company. He formed a remarkable collection of about 4,000 coins, but he is little known since his collection was sold privately. Newcomer lost his financial empire during the Depression, and Walter Breen claims that he committed suicide in 1934.
Col. E.H.R. Green (1868-1936) is best known as the son of Hetty Green, the "Witch of Wall Street," who amassed a fortune in the stock market. Active in Republican politics, Green served as chairman of a Texas Republican State Committee. He was a director of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Green also served as a director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and as president of the Texas Midland Railroad. In 1936, his coin collection was valued at $5 million and his stamp collection was valued at $3.5 million. St. Louis coin dealer Burdette Johnson handled many pieces from the Col. Green Collection, and he placed this 1794 dollar with Jerome Kern (1885-1945), a popular American composer who produced countless scores for Broadway and Hollywood.
The McCoy specimen of the 1794 silver dollar is a later die state (Logies Die State III), with clash marks on both sides and a shallow third curl. 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 that is notoriously weak on this issue.
As nearly always, there are some adjustment marks, but they are much lighter than usual and along the reverse rim, and 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." Those marks have since been removed quite 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 the past behind and moved into the modern realm of third-party grading, as well it should. It is certainly one of the nicest 1794 silver dollars to survive, and a coin that 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. The piece is equally well-defined on the wreath and berries, with just a hint of weakness at the tops of STA, which was likely caused by the adjustment marks and the strike.
Ex: John F. McCoy Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 5/1864); Joseph Zanoni (Edward Cogan, 4/1867), lot 79; James Ten Eyck; Mortimer Livingston Mackenzie (Edward Cogan, 6/1869), lot 151; E. Harrison Sanford, Esq. (Edward Cogan, 11/1874), lot 96; Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin and Stamp, 6/1890), lot 681; H.O. Granberg; William H. Woodin; Waldo Newcomer; Col. E.H.R. Green; B.G. Johnson (1942); Jerome Kern (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 770; Clint Hester; W.G. Baldenhofer; Alfred J. Ostheimer; Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 3/2001), lot 324; Jack Lee Collection, Part III (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 2184.
From The Joseph C. Thomas Collection.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 24WY, PCGS# 6851)
View all of [The Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part One ]
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