Pleasing VG10 1794 Dollar
1794 $1 VG10 PCGS. The desirability of 1794 dollars to
collectors is undeniable. Only 1,758 pieces were struck, and today
approximately 125 individual examples have been traced. In 2004,
Martin Logies published The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of
1794, in which he enumerated some of the problems facing the
new Mint in the production of these coins:
The John N. Brooks Specimen
"Mint Director David Rittenhouse wanted to begin distribution of newly minted silver dollars as soon as possible, so on August 29, 1794, he made a deposit to the Mint of his own, with 1734.50 troy ounces of refined silver ingots, representing a value of $2,001.34. ... the ingots were alloyed with copper to adjust the fineness. It was at this point, however, that the Mint chose to depart from its strict adherence to the law, choosing instead to adopt the standard of 0.9000000 fineness recommended by the Assayer Albion Cox (and endorsed by Rittenhouse) in preference to the odd official standard [0.892479], based on Cox's contention that the increased purity of silver was necessary to ensure the coins would not tarnish too darkly. Impurities and gas bubbles still remained in the silver, resulting in areas of surface porosity, planchet pits, cracks, laminations and other flaws still visible after the coins were finally struck. ... The Mint's difficulty in striking these new dollars is evident (at least to some degree) on every known specimen--with the left sides of both the obverse and reverse distinctly more weakly struck than the right sides, most probably due to the faces of the dies not being aligned completely parallel."
This piece displays evidence of all the problems the early Mint encountered when striking these first dollars. The stars on the left portion of the obverse are noticeably weak from the misaligned dies. A few gas bubbles are evident, but there are even more small to medium-sized planchet laminations present--several of which positively identify this as the Brooks specimen.
Only the obverse is reproduced in Logies' book as the reverse was not plated in the 1914 catalog. The image in the 1794 book is photocopied from the catalog and is highly granular as a result. Comparison between the image in the book and the actual coin shows the coin to have remarkably smoother surfaces than one would expect from the book. There are, however, several prominent pedigree identifiers that are plainly evident on the obverse: diagonal adjustment marks, one on the right side of the 4 in the date, and another below star 15; a shallow, nearly horizontal planchet flaw in the right field, and an angling planchet depression in front of the nose of Liberty. What Logies calls "a hockey-stick shaped scrape directly in front of Liberty's face" is actually a combination of a short planchet flaw and a minor scrape that was magnified by a poor original photo and a less-than-stellar reproduction.
As stated, the surfaces are remarkably smooth and problem-free when compared to the grainy reproduction in Martin Logies' book. In addition to the obverse pedigree identifiers mentioned above, there are a pair of shallow planchet flaws above and below the eagle's head. The surfaces are essentially free from post-striking impairments. The lettering on the left portion of the reverse is also weakly defined, which is consistent with all 1794 dollars we have seen, which were struck from misaligned dies. The surfaces overall are medium gray with lighter silver-gray accents over the high points of the devices. Even wear is seen over each side of this pleasing and attractive example of America's first silver dollar.
Ex: John N. Brooks Collection (United States Coin Co., 12/1914), lot 17.
From The Northwest Collection.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 24WY, PCGS# 6851)
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