1794 Dollar, VF30, A Classic American Rarity, Ex: Wetmore-Newcomer-Dunham Specimen1794 $1 VF30 PCGS. B-1, BB-1, R.4. The 1794 is one of the most elusive of all Silver Dollars ever struck. The first statute of the April 2, 1792 Mint Act authorized coinage of Silver Dollars to compete with the popular Spanish and Mexican Dollars or "pieces of eight." Designed by Mint Engraver Robert Scot, the United States' first Dollar was struck from a single pair of dies. Only 1,758 pieces were deemed satisfactory, with a few hundred more thought to have been rejected and perhaps later used as planchets. The most reliable estimate of the number of survivors is somewhere around 130 pieces, that figure suggested by the late Jack Collins, a tireless researcher of this issue.
Apparently after the 1794 copper trial striking was produced and the first several Dollars came off the presses, the dies went out of alignment causing the left obverse stars to appear weakly struck, a characteristic seen on virtually every known example. On this particular coin, the date and first three stars are strongly impressed. However, stars 4-7 are weakly defined as is the corresponding area on the reverse in UN(ITED ST)ATES. The surfaces are oyster gray with an accent of deeper russet-brown patina around the obverse periphery, and on the reverse that same colored toning surrounds and is within the recesses of the devices. For identification purposes, we note the following: a small planchet depression between the L in LIBERTY and Liberty's hair, two adjustment marks through the O in OF, and a comma-like planchet flaw below the end of the right stem on the lower reverse.
Jack Collins noted (in his unpublished manuscript on 1794 Dollars) that this specimen was repaired at one time, and went so far as to include photos of this coin both "Before and After" the repair. He described the repair as follows: "...a large "V" shaped lamination defect flaked off of the planchet from the border between the 4 and the last star, extending upward to the end of the bust and throat. This was skillfully repaired before its 1989 appearance."
A 1794 Dollar always creates much excitement when offered for sale, even more so when it comes with a great pedigree, as does this specimen. Jack Collins was able to trace this coin back as far as 1876. The pedigree (up to the year 1989) reads:
Ex: Henry S. Adams (Edward Cogan, October 30-31/November 1, 1876), lot 341, $80; to Henry Ahlborn; Major William Boerum Wetmore (Samuel Hudson Chapman, June 27-28, 1906), lot 178, $110; Waldo Charles Newcomer (B. Max Mehl); William Forrester Dunham (B. Max Mehl, June 3, 1941), lot 1033, $217.50; unknown intermediaries until John Koppell consigned the coin to the Brooks Collection (Bowers and Merena, June 11-12, 1989), lot 141, $26,950.
From the Albany Collection. (NGC ID# 24WY, 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.
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