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    1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, MS66+
    The Spectacular St. Oswald-Ostheimer-Hayes-Pogue Coin
    B-1, BB-1, A National Treasure

    1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4, MS66+ PCGS. CAC. Ex: Simpson. The 1,758-piece mintage of 1794 silver dollars is a tale of intrigue and mystery, both then and now. Many questions have been answered in recent years, including the lineage of the famous Lord St. Oswald coins, of which this splendid 1794 dollar is the stunningly original and lustrously finest example. Its existence is both a miracle of survival and the story of a national treasure, come home.

    In 1792, David Rittenhouse was reluctant to accept George Washington's 1792 invitation to serve as the first Director of the U.S. Mint, but he did, and soon he was immersed in a demanding and politically sensitive position. Foremost on a lengthy "to do" list was the need to house, equip, and staff the first U.S. Mint building -- no easy task, given the vagaries of a contentious Continental Congress and the ongoing specter of yellow fever. Rittenhouse understood the country needed to demonstrate sovereignty by proving it could issue its own coinage. The patterns of 1792 offered a hopeful beginning, yet the real business of coining copper and silver was not attempted until a small mintage of silver half dismes was issued in the second half of 1792, struck in the temporary surroundings of John Harper's basement.

    Once the new Mint facilities were ready in 1793, initial mintages of half cents and large cents followed. Rittenhouse was still faced with the onerous task of convincing Congress that the required surety bonds mandated by law for the Chief Coiner and Assayer were beyond the financial means of normal men.

    Congress compromised and eventually relented. Once that hurdle was cleared, the stage was set for Rittenhouse's ultimate test -- striking silver dollars in 1794. Joseph Wright's design of the Liberty Cap cent served as the model for Engraver Robert Scot's Flowing Hair obverse design. Wright's Eagle on Globe pattern was the likely inspiration for the silver dollar's reverse -- a graceful motif, substantially altered by Scot for the final design, and not entirely to its benefit.

    The dollar was the largest silver coin authorized by Congress, and was the standard bearer for the country's denominational coinage. One has to believe the triumvirate of Washington, Jefferson, and Rittenhouse viewed a successful introduction of the dollar as the culmination of their long quest to establish a Federal Mint.

    Sadly, Mint equipment was insufficient for the task. Nor was silver bullion adequate for an initial silver dollar mintage. David Rittenhouse himself provided silver bars for planchet preparation, enough to coin 2,000 silver dollars. The Mint managed to strike just 1,758 acceptable pieces, barely enough to put the U.S. government into the business of coinage, but enough to show off a few choice examples to the world.

    In many respects, the 1794 silver dollar offered here is a miracle of survival. It is, in our opinion, the finest representative of the mintage destined for circulation that survives today. It was not the first silver dollar struck, nor even one of the first few. The coin shows die clashing that characterizes a middle die state (Bowers Die State II). Nor did the planchet receive special preparation, although it has fewer adjustment marks than seen on the vast majority of 1794 dollars. Of the 135 to 150 1794 dollars that survive today, it was certainly the recipient of good fortune in both its strike and planchet, and it was likely carefully set aside for that reason. Logically, some pieces were reserved as samples, supported by the fact that a handful of 1794 silver dollars survive today in Mint State, plus one Specimen strike. We can imagine that David Rittenhouse or other prominent Mint officials viewed this very coin at one time or another shortly after its mintage, and hand-picked it for a special purpose.

    That special purpose was fulfilled by the arrival of a gentleman from England, who was a man of diverse interests and practical intellect. Sir William Strickland visited the United States for nearly 10 months from late September 1794 to the end of July 1795.

    During his visit, Strickland was hosted by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington among several other local dignitaries and acquaintances, and traveled widely throughout the states. In Philadelphia, he was entertained by Congress in session, and paid at least one low-key visit to the U.S. Mint. Strickland was described by George Washington as "a plain man in his dress and manners," and the President took a liking to him. He was a British aristocrat, but also a gentleman farmer and an artist, as well as a naturalist, scientist, and polymath. He was a dedicated numismatist and coin collector, too.

    Upon Strickland's return to England in 1795, he continued to correspond with George Washington. Later, he inherited his father's title and became the 6th Baronet of Boynton. He also inherited a varied coin collection and a significant numismatic library. Many of those things passed on to his son-in-law, Charles Winn, upon Strickland's death in 1834. In part, the inherited coins are documented by purchase. Importantly, Charles Winn was the father of the 1st Baron St. Oswald of Nostell Priory.

    A detailed description of Sir William Strickland's visit to America is offered by David E. Tripp, who researched the previously discounted Roland Wynn/Lord St. Oswald family connection to the present coin, a pedigree meaningful to several other spectacular U.S. coins that have appeared from the now-famous 1964 and 1992 Christie, Manson, and Woods, Ltd. sales offering the Property of Major the Lord St. Oswald, M.C. Imagine the excitement when not just one, but two Brilliant Uncirculated 1794 dollars were included in the 1964 sale, heretofore unknown to the vast majority of silver dollar collectors. The Lord St. Oswald coins were actually a small part of that much larger sale across the ocean, yet those fantastic coins are still making waves in the United States today.

    News of the upcoming sale reached American shores in time to create interest among the numismatic community. Those attending the auction included Jacque C. Ostheimer, Lester Merkin, Norman Stack, and several other notables. The 1794 dollars were a prime attraction among U.S. interests, but they were largely unnoticed among British attendees other than by Baldwin's, who cataloged the sale.

    The U.S. coin portion of the collection consisted of some 84 coins. Colonial, Post-Colonial, and Federal issues were part of the collection. 34 pieces were federal issues dated 1794 or 1795, and they were essentially as struck. The pre-federal issues include examples from every state except Maryland, and they show varying degrees of wear -- as if pulled from circulation during William Strickland's travels. Strickland was an astute and conscientious collector. Many of the Uncirculated large cents in the collection were from Mint deliveries made while Strickland was in Philadelphia in December 1794. It is interesting that no examples of 1795 half eagles, eagles, or Draped Bust dollars are included in the Lord St. Oswald collection -- all of those were delivered by the Mint after Strickland's departure in late July 1795.

    Amazingly, the collection survived intact within a single family for more than 150 years. The federal U.S. coins in the collection included:
    · Two 1794 half cents
    · One 1793 Chain cent
    · 24 1794 Large Cents
    · Three 1795 Half Dollars
    · Two 1794 Silver Dollars
    · Three 1795 Flowing Hair Silver Dollars

    Most of these coins were included in the 1964 Christie, Manson, and Woods auction. The two half cents, the 1793 Chain cent, and two large cents were in the 1992 Christie, Manson, and Woods sale.

    Jacque C. Ostheimer was the successful bidder on the finer of the 1794 dollars, and she noted it was "Best Strike. Gem." The coin was the highlight of the Ostheimer early dollar collection, one of the Ostheimer coins that was unfortunately stolen in 1968, but then recovered. The traditional explanation put forward by the Jack Collins/Walter Breen research was that the coin suffered a rim bruise during "the 1968 Railway Express Agency robbery of the Ostheimer Collection." Martin Logies also noted "This specimen was stolen while in the possession of Alfred J. Ostheimer, and inadvertently dropped during its recovery. Consequently, the reverse displays a thin edge void at the rim at the lower right at RIC of AMERICA." We reached out to W. David Perkins, who provided these comments:

    "I'm not sure where 'the 1968 Railway Express Agency robbery' reference originated. I visited Jacque Ostheimer in her home and exchanged e-mails with her over the years. Mrs. Ostheimer told me the robbery was an 'inside job.' She and Alfred had an employee that they let go. This employee organized the burglary and was somehow able to get the coins out of the Ostheimer's safe. Approximately half of the early dollar collection was stolen. The other half of the collection remained safe in their bank boxes, where the stolen half was usually kept. I do know that the coins from the collection not stolen were consigned after the robbery in 1968 to Lester Merkin (New York dealer and auctioneer). I have the Merkin auction settlement (on his stationery). All but two of the early dollars in Merkin's Public Auction Sale - September 18, 1968 were consigned by the Ostheimers. Mrs. Ostheimer told me (in person) that they decided to sell as a result of the robbery.

    "The Ostheimers ultimately paid a ransom and all but two of the stolen early dollars were recovered. I have the original copy of the Ostheimer's inventory, with the original value for the 1794 dollar shown as $17,500. The Ostheimers noted, "Best Strike. Gem." on this document. Mrs. Ostheimer told me they negotiated an insurance settlement after the theft. Alfred was in the insurance business.

    "The recovered early dollars were sold privately to Superior Stamp and Coin Co., Inc. I have the original invoice for the Lord St. Oswald 1794 dollar, dated 9/29/69. Also on this invoice was the sale of the Ostheimer's extremely rare 1870-S Seated dollar for $14,000! Interestingly, one of the two stolen coins not recovered was a 1795 Bolender-2 Flowing Hair dollar, also from the Lord St. Oswald Sale. It was the nicest of the 1795 Flowing hair dollars in the Christie sale, in my opinion. I cannot say for sure whether the coin was damaged, or not, in the robbery. I agree the catalog plate photo is not of much value. Perhaps Christies has a better original photo."

    Most recently, Stack's Bowers noted in the coin's D. Brent Pogue Collection description, "This planchet shows a few other minor pre-striking imperfections, including a light striation below the two leaf cluster under F of OF, a natural pit at the upper left corner of E of AMERICA, and a flat spot on the rim above ICA where the planchet was "clipped" or incomplete before striking, but was able to approximate rounded completeness once the force of the dies pressed the metal flow outward to fill the periphery." There is no mention of any non-Mint related anomaly.

    A strong case can be made that this is the finest "regular circulation strike" 1794 silver dollar that exists, since the Amon Carter-Cardinal Collection coin is a Specimen strike as described on the holder. The PCGS Plus designation and CAC endorsement attest to the coin's Premium Gem Uncirculated status, although a single glance at this coin is enough to convince even the most hardened skeptic that this is a Gem 1794 dollar of the highest order. Further examination does nothing to dispel the initial impression, since every strand of Liberty's flowing hair is individually defined from the forehead to the tip of the bottom curl. The cheek is full, with all facial features fully struck. A speckling of golden-gray patina does not restrain the fulsome cartwheel luster that radiates from the center of each side. The reverse is equally well struck for a 1794 dollar, with only a trace of inconsequential weakness on the letter tops AT of STATES. Most 1794 dollars show adjustment marks made by the Mint. On some coins they are extensive, but here they are few and mostly limited to lower-left obverse margin. The date and stars remain bold in that area, and the central strike is needle-sharp. The reverse rim shows a small flat spot at RIC of AMERICA.

    Given the impeccable pedigree of this superb dollar and its unsurpassed eye appeal bolstered by high technical quality, we know this spectacular example of our nation's earliest silver dollar will invite strong interest by the strongest hands throughout the numismatic world.

    Roster of Mint State 1794 Silver Dollars

    Specimen Strike Example:
    1. SP66 PCGS. Virgil Brand Collection; James Kelly's Fixed Price List #20 (1945); C. David Pierce; Art & Paul Kagin; Will W. Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 1; Amon G. Carter Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 207; Hugh Sconyers for the American Rare Coin Fund Limited Partnership; Hoagy Carmichael and Wayne Miller Collections sale (Superior, 1/1986), lot 1173; An Amazing Collection of United States Silver Dollars (Superior, 5/1991), lot 699; Knoxville Collection, sold by private treaty to Jay Parrino; Steve Contursi, acquired via private treaty; Cardinal Collection, acquired via private treaty, (5/2010); The Cardinal Collection, (Stack's Bowers, 1/2013), lot 13094, where it realized $10,016,875.

    Mint State Circulation Strikes
    1. MS66+ PCGS. CAC. Ex William Strickland Collection; Charles Winn (husband of Priscilla Strickland, son-in-law and cousin of William Strickland), by sale, 1834; four generations of the Roland Winn/Baron St. Oswald of Nostell family, by descent, 1874-1957, including Rowland Denys Guy Winn, Major the Lord St. Oswald, M.C.; Lord St. Oswald Collection (Christie, Manson & Woods, 10/1964), lot 138; Jacque C. (Mrs. Alfred) Ostheimer Collection; Jacque C. (Mrs. Alfred) Ostheimer to Superior Stamp and Coin Company, by sale, September 29, 1969; Edwards Huntington Metcalf Collection; Clarke E. Gilhousen sale, Part III (Superior, 10/1973), lot 1209; Jonathon Hefferlin; Newport Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 1/1975), lot 371; Julian Leidman to Michael Kirzner to Bowers and Ruddy Galleries to Phil Herres (DollarTowne); Leon Hendrickson (SilverTowne), by sale, via John Dannreuther, 1/1983; Jimmy Hayes Collection; Jimmy Hayes Collection of United States Silver Coins (Stack's 10/1985), lot 72, via David Akers, to the following; D. Brent Pogue; D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part II (Stack's Bowers, 9/2015) lot 2041, where it realized $4,993,750; The Bob R. Simpson Collection. The present example.

    2. MS66+ PCGS. "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; F.C.C. Boyd Collection; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1945), lot 1; Adolph Friedman; Charles Williams; ANA Convention Sale (Numismatic Gallery, 8/1949), lot 140; Beverly Hills Stamp & Coin Shop's (Abe Kosoff and Max Justus) Fixed Price List of 1957; ANA Convention Sale (Numismatic Gallery, 8/1958), lot 1678; James Kelly; Lelan Rogers; Numisma '95 (Stack's, 11/1995), lot 1315; Jay Parrino; The Mint (Jay Parrino) Fixed Price List of 1996; Stellar Collection.

    3. MS64 PCGS. Ex William Strickland Collection; Charles Winn (husband of Priscilla Strickland, son-in-law and cousin of William Strickland), by sale, 1834; four generations of the Roland Winn/Baron St. Oswald of Nostell family, by descent, 1874-1957, including Rowland Denys Guy Winn, Major the Lord St. Oswald, M.C.; Lord St. Oswald Collection (Christie, Manson & Woods, 10/1964), lot 137; Lester Merkin, on behalf of the following; Ambassador & Mrs. R. Henry Norweb; Norweb Collection, Part III (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3741; A Cabinet of Rarities (Bowers and Merena's Rare Coin Review Issue No. 78, 1990), lot 129; Hugh Sconyers for the American Rare Coin Fund Limited Partnership, 1992; William Morton-Smith.

    4. MS63+ PCGS. Virgil Brand; B. Max Mehl (1930s); F.C.C. Boyd Collection duplicate, sold privately by Numismatic Gallery at the time of the "World's Greatest Collection" sale; Stack's Fixed Price List No. 47, 1950; B.M. Eubanks; Quality Sales auction (9/1973), lot 464; Collector's Portfolio Public Coin Auction (Abner Kreisberg, 10/1978), lot 633; Fixed Price List No. 41 (Bowers and Ruddy, 1981); Charmont Sale (Steve Ivy, 10/1983), lot 3769; Somerset Collection sale (Bowers and Merena, 5/1992), lot 1300; Jeff Isaac; The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, and displayed as part of the Cardinal Collection of Early Dollars at the 2001, 2002 and 2004 ANA Conventions; Cardinal Collection sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 6/2005), lot 5; private collector; reacquired by the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, 2008, and featured in a complete "Mint Set" of 1794 coinage; Selections From The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation (Bowers and Merena, 10/2010), lot 1005; Heritage Auctions; Bruce Morelan; Legend Numismatics; private collector.

    5. MS62+ PCGS. Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 725; L.R. French, Jr. Family Collection of United States Silver Dollars (Stack's, 1/1989), lot 2; Gary Minsey Collection; private Midwestern collection.

    6. MS61 NGC. Murdoch Collection (Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge, July 1903), lot 835, purchased by Spink & Son for 48 pounds, or approximately $230; George H. Earle (Henry Chapman, 1912), lot 2667, where it realized $620; Colonel James W. Ellsworth, Wayte Raymond, and John Work Garrett (via private treaty in 1923, through Knoedler & Co.); William Cutler Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 1946), lot 185; Dr. Charles A. Cass, Empire Collection (Stack's, 1957), lot 1678; unknown intermediary; Gibson-Groves Sale (Stack's, 1974), lot 75; Julian Leidman and Mike Brownlee to Harry Bass, Jr.; Bass I (Bowers and Merena, 5/99), lot 2021; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 6/2005), lot 6571; The Joseph C. Thomas Collection (Heritage, 4/2009), lot 2529, which realized $503,125.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24WY, Variety PCGS# 39972, Base PCGS# 6851)

    Weight: 26.96 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    View all of [The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part VI ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2021
    18th-22nd Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 54
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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