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    1794 Flowing Hair Dollar, VF30
    Sought-After First Year of Denomination
    Seldom Seen in High Grade

    1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4, VF30 PCGS. Bowers-Borckardt Die State II. The Philadelphia Mint faced many problems after its establishment in 1792, including inadequate equipment, sporadic deposits of silver for planchets, and exorbitant bonding requirements that prevented key personnel from performing their functions. As a result, the production of silver coinage was delayed until 1794, when a small mintage of 1,758 Flowing Hair silver dollars was accomplished. The survivors of this meager production total are among the most sought-after issues in the United States silver series today.

    Unfortunately, the many difficulties that the Mint experienced in earlier years were not completely resolved by the time silver dollar production began. The largest available coin press was designed to strike half dollars and it was immediately apparent that it lacked sufficient striking pressure to bring up the design detail on dollar-sized silver coins. The dies were also misaligned in the press, resulting in uneven striking quality. Consequently, nearly all 1794 dollars are weakly impressed on the left obverse border and the corresponding area on the reverse. The problems were so extensive that many coins were rejected as unfit for circulation and were saved for use as planchets the following year.

    The 1,758 coins that were deemed suitable for public consumption were released into circulation at the time of issue, to mixed reviews from the general public. The coins circulated extensively for many years, until numismatic interest in American issues developed in the 1850s, after which the few surviving specimens were quickly culled from circulation. By then, only 125-150 examples of this first silver dollar issue were extant, most showing extensive wear and numerous abrasions from their long period in circulation. Today, collectors prize specimens of this historic issue in all grades and conditions.

    The present coin is a pleasing VF30 example that shows the usual striking weakness on the left side. However, unlike many examples seen, the date is legible and all eight stars on the left are at least partially outlined. Similarly, the lower part of the letters in UNITED STATES on the reverse are faint at the tops, but legible on the bottom. Some unevenness shows in the surfaces of the left obverse field. The central devices retain much original design detail and the surfaces are blanketed in pleasing shades of charcoal and golden-brown toning. Some interesting clash marks are evident and a few minor abrasions are apparent on both sides. Although the coin is well-centered, the dentils are not brought up on the weakly impressed left side of the obverse, due to the misalignment of the dies. This piece will be a welcome addition to a fine collection of early dollars.
    Ex: Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 6/2010), lot 2421. (NGC ID# 24WY, Variety PCGS# 39972, Base PCGS# 6851)

    Weight: 26.96 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2014
    5th-9th Tuesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,974

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