1794 Dollar, AU Details
1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4 -- Environmental Damage -- NGC. AU
Details. Alexander Hamilton sought answers to six questions in
his report On the Establishment of a Mint that he communicated to
Congress on January 28, 1791. The report was the basis for the Mint
Act of April 2, 1792, that created the establishment.
The George Earle/T.James Clarke Example
1. What ought to be the nature of the money unit of the United States.
Hamilton clearly recommended the dollar as the appropriate money unit in the U.S., as opposed to the system of pounds, shillings, and pence that was prevalent in Great Britain, and in all of the individual colonies. Hamilton wrote: "The manner of adjusting foreign exchanges, would seem to indicate the dollar as best entitled to that character." Carothers remarked: "The silver unit of the United States would thus be a new coin, unlike any Spanish dollar ever minted, but very closely approximating in weight the actual coins in circulation."
2. What [should be] the proportion between gold and silver, if coins of both metals are to be established?
Hamilton felt that a system based on gold would be the most stable, but he clearly recommended a bimetallic system based on both gold and silver, with a value ratio of 15 to 1. He wrote: "The next inquiry towards a right determination of what ought to be the future money unit of the United States, turns upon these questions: Whether it ought to be peculiarly attached to either of the metals, in preference to the other, or not; and, if to either, to which of them?" While he preferred the gold standard, he recommended the double or bimetallic standard as a single standard was "liable to all the objections which rise from the comparison of the benefits of a full, with the evils of a scanty circulation."
3. What [should be] the proportion and composition of alloy in each kind?
Hamilton conducted assays of Spanish coins, and determined that the most appropriate proportion would be one part of alloy to 11 parts of gold or silver; in gold, this is the same as 22 Karat gold. The proportion was fixed by a Congressional resolution of August 8, 1786. The recommended alloy for silver coins was copper, and for gold coins a mixture of copper and silver. This is one area where the Mint Act deviated from Hamilton's plan. Carothers notes that "Hamilton had recommended an alloy proportion of 1/12 in all the gold and silver coins, and the law provided for this alloy in the gold coins. But the silver coins were given a gross weight of 416 grains per dollar, making the proportions 179 parts copper to 1485 parts silver. The silver coins were to have the clumsy fineness of 1485/1664."
4. Whether the expense of coinage shall be defrayed by the Government, or out of the material itself?
This is one of the most important questions addressed in Hamilton's report, as it would have a direct influence on the success of the entire Mint project, and Hamilton addressed the matter at quite some length. He essentially stated that he was against the idea of charging for coinage expense, but if it was necessary to do so, the charge should be nominal, at 1/2 of 1 percent; the charge should only be levied upon those who demanded coins at the time of their deposit. Others, who were willing to wait until their deposit was entirely processed would incur no fee.
5. What shall be the number, denominations, sizes, and devices of the coins?
Hamilton felt it would be best to start with a smaller number of denominations, stating that it would be easier to add additional values at a later date as necessary. He recommended gold ten dollar and one dollar pieces, silver dollars, dimes, cents, and half cents.
6. Whether foreign coins shall be permitted to be current or not; if the former, at what rate, and for what period?
Hamilton remarked: "The abolition of this, in proper season, is a necessary part of the system contemplated for the national coinage. But this it will be expedient to defer, till some considerable progress has been made in preparing substitutes for them. A gradation may, therefore, be found most convenient." Hamilton's proposal recommended that foreign coins could circulate freely for one year. Gold coins of Portugal, England, and France, along with silver coins of Spain, could circulate for a second year. Finally, after two years, foreign coins would no longer be permissible.
After his proposal was considered, Congress established the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, authorizing the Mint in Philadelphia. That opened the door to a national coinage, commencing with copper coins in 1793, and half dollars and silver dollars in 1794. Among the first silver dollars was the present piece. The existing details on are quite sharp with only slight evidence of wear on the high points. The surfaces are deep gray-brown and steel-blue, with noticeable corrosion and surface roughness on both sides. Despite the overall quality, this is a wonderful 1794 silver dollar that most collectors would be proud to own.
The following detailed surface analysis is provided for comparative purposes, as the plate in the New Netherlands catalog shows some differences. The 1 and the first two stars on the left are weak; faint adjustment marks extend in from the border at 17, and the first three stars; a tiny nick is located below a hair strand just right of star 4; and a similar tiny nick is positioned below the outer point of star 7. The reverse has minor rim disturbances over TAT, a couple small scrapes over the right terminal leaves; and a tiny pit mark left of the O in OF. The planchet defect through the R of LIBERTY in the New Netherlands plate has been repaired, as has the rim bruise over TE in STATES. A few other tiny rim disturbances are present today, but were not visible in the older plate. Minor adjustment marks from the 1 over to star 3 exactly match the New Netherlands plate, and tiny marks on the dentils at star 2 and over the right upright of N in UNITED also match exactly.
Ex: A. Bridgman (S.H. and H. Chapman, 11/1891), lot 689; George H. Earle (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2668; later, Ira Reed; T. James Clarke (New Netherlands, 11/1956), lot 608; the present consignor; crossed over from NCS to NGC.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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