Well-Known 1794 Dollar, VF25
1794 $1 VF25 NGC. B-1, BB-1, R.4. As the first U.S. silver
dollar, the 1794 is always in great demand from specialists and
general collectors, including first year of issue type collectors.
The demand far exceeds the limited supply of just 130 examples that
have survived since they were minted on October 15, 1794. Just
1,758 coins were struck prior to that delivery. As mentioned on the
VF20 coin in this auction, even though the coinage press had served
admirably for the softer and smaller copper coinage, it was
inadequate for production of the larger and harder silver dollars.
As a result, nearly all examples show some areas of weakness,
mostly at the bottom and left of the obverse, and left and top of
the reverse. The present specimen is a perfect illustration.
Earl Parker-Herb Bergen Specimen
The actual coinage production may have been as many as 2,000 pieces, according to the late Jack Collins who quoted the conjecture of Walter Breen, who suggested that the 242 additional pieces were all used as planchets for 1795 silver dollars. The entire mintage of 1794 silver dollars was delivered to David Rittenhouse for his personal use. He may have given some out as presents to family and friends, or he may have spent the entire lot, to get them in front of the public.
Jack Collins, in his unpublished manuscript on 1794 dollars, wrote: "The owner of a 1794 dollar in any grade, no matter how low, possesses a precious historic relic: one of the first federal silver coins, made on the initial day of silver coinage, of the first federal design for circulation with eagle or stars; a coin made from David Rittenhouse's own bullion, and personally owned and given or traded by David Rittenhouse himself."
This splendid piece has lovely pewter-gray surfaces with a few minor marks, including a thin scratch in the left obverse field that identifies it as the Herbert Bergen coin. The date and the first four stars are extremely weak, as is nearly all of UNITED STATES on the reverse. The weakness is typical of nearly all 1794 silver dollars. Overall, it is an outstanding and desirable example of the coinage, and a chance to own a coin whose history dates back to Director Rittenhouse himself.
Ex: Earl Parker (1946); Herbert M. Bergen Collection (Abner Kreisberg and Jerry Cohen, October 1979), lot 1338; Jim Payette (New Hampshire Numismatics); Jim McGuigan; a Pennsylvania collector; Gaziano and Papyrus Way Collections (Stack's, 3/2008), lot 376; ANA Signature (Heritage, 7-8/2008), lot 1718.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 24WY, PCGS# 6851)
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