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    Description

    1795 Flowing Hair Dollar, B-7, BB-18, MS65+
    Finest With Silver Plug, Second-Finest Overall
    The Lord St. Oswald Specimen

    1795 $1 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves, Silver Plug, B-7, BB-18, R.3, MS65+ PCGS. CAC. Ex: Lord St. Oswald. The Lord St. Oswald coins have earned exalted status in U.S. numismatics, but only recently is the pedigree understood to a comfortable degree. Some uncertainties remain, confused by the passage of time and by unfamiliarity with the exact individuals who formed the collection, yet the provenance is now clear, thanks to insightful study by David E. Tripp and other dedicated researchers.

    The coins themselves bear witness to more than 220 years of outstanding preservation and careful numismatic ownership. The Lord St. Oswald coins spent a majority of their years in a coin cabinet crafted by the great maker Thomas Chippendale. That cabinet was just one of about 100 Chippendale pieces to grace the renowned English country house, Nostell Priory.

    Tripp's thorough and perceptive research suggests the U.S. coins in the Lord St. Oswald collection were acquired by Sir William Strickland, who was Charles Winn's father-in-law. The two men shared common ancestry with Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet of Nostell, who was William Strickland's uncle and Charles Winn's grandfather.

    Charles Winn was a voracious collector of coins and many other things, while Sir William Strickland had a wide spectrum of interests and talents. Technically a gentleman farmer, Strickland was an artist, naturalist, scientist, and polymath as well as a coin collector himself.

    In 1794, Strickland embarked on a great adventure. Sailing to America aboard the American merchantman ship, the Fair American, he arrived in New York in September 1794. Armed with letters of introduction and as a member of the well-connected Winn family, he was introduced to (and befriended by) a large number of important American acquaintances, including several signors of the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers. He spent time at Monticello and Mount Vernon in company with Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

    In all, he spent the better part of 10 months in America. Four of those months were spent in Philadelphia, including a few weeks prior to his July 1795 departure back to England. George Washington described him as "a plain man in his dress and manners" and took a special liking to him. Strickland visited Congress on more than one occasion, and it would be no surprise if he also was invited to visit the Philadelphia Mint on at least one occasion during his stay in America.

    Upon Strickland's return to England in 1795, he continued to correspond with George Washington. Soon, 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.

    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, and they show varying degrees of wear -- as if pulled from circulation (perhaps 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 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


    Of these, only the silver issues were included in the 1964 Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd. auction. 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 the British other than by Baldwin's, who cataloged the sale. The present coin -- the fabulous 1795 Silver Plug dollar -- received only brief mention in the catalog:

    "U.S.A., DOLLAR, 1795 (Bolender no. 7) in mint state, a rare (sic) variety than the last two."



    There was no mention of the obvious silver plug, although that was not unusual for catalogers at that time to avoid the subject, thinking bidders would perceive the Mint anomaly as damage. Despite a minimal description, the coin brought a strong price. It later appeared in Lester Merkin's October 1973 auction, where Merkin gave it a more extensive write-up:

    "Presentation" 1795 Bolender 7 Dollar

    "1795. Bolender 7. Irregularly toned prooflike gem, struck from new brilliantly polished dies on a brilliantly polished planchet (which however does have adjustment marks). Exceptionally sharp impression, many details of curls full, claws plain though only one is sharp, eagle's head very sharp. Free of any traces of handling. Pristine, uncleaned. One of the earliest struck varieties of the year. By far the finest known of the variety, and to date the only 'presentation' specimen known from these dies. From the Mint to Lord St. Oswald (probably presented to him on the occasion of his visit, shortly after the first deliveries of silver dollars of the year): this was lot 141 in the St. Oswald sale. ILLUST."



    Several things in Merkin's description may have influenced Walter Breen's later insistence that the St. Oswald Silver Plug dollar was a presentation piece. Both Breen's encyclopedia of U.S. coins and his later encyclopedia of proof coins plated the coin, and described it as a presentation piece specially made for the Lord St. Oswald.

    Ten years later, the coin appeared in Stack's April 1983 auction, which described the coin as "... wholly prooflike. Brilliant Uncirculated and a gem." But added, "However, it must be doubted that the coin should be classified as a 'Presentation Piece.' " While clarifying one problem, the same lot description created another:

    "The 4th Lord St. Oswald who consigned his United States coins to Christie's for sale in October 1964 was a collateral descendant of Sir Rowland Winn, Bart., a wealthy young Englishman of liberal sentiments, an inquiring mind and a taste for adventure. It would appear probable that these qualities inspired him, at the age of 20, to visit North America in 1795 to see for himself how the new Republic was getting along. Like many tourists before and since he made a point of visiting the nation's capital, then Philadelphia, to examine the seat and machinery of government. The very quantity of the pieces discussed below tells the story. Young Rowland Winn was not of the caliber to inspire presentations of any kind; it was more than likely that he visited the strong box, paying for them in welcome English gold. Naturally, he chose the best pieces available, as anyone would today."



    Some 11 years later, a Fall 1994 article in The Asylum put the brakes on previous speculation about who originally obtained the St. Oswald coins from the Mint, pointing out that the Lord St. Oswald title did not exist until 1885, and that Sir Roland Winn was not a well man in 1795 and unable to even contemplate a rigorous journey to America during times of still-heightened uncertainties. The article concluded:

    "Any and all claims of illustrious pedigree and unbroken descent from the United States Mint down to today, the sort that auction cataloguers are so fond of, are unsupported statements at best, poppycock and drivel at worst."



    The research by David Tripp sheds new light on the Lord St. Oswald connection, and suggests (with a compelling body of evidence) that the St. Oswald coins were originally acquired by Sir William Strickland, and thus were part of the Lord St. Oswald/Winn family through descent since 1795, a provenance that explains their exceptional, original quality and clarifies the pedigree heretofore confused by time and speculation.

    There is nothing confusing the quality of this splendid 1795 Silver Plug Flowing Hair dollar. It is not only the finest 1795 Silver Plug dollar certified, it is the second-finest 1795 Flowing Hair dollar in existence, surpassed by only the beautiful, million-dollar Bullowa 1795 dollar (also a B-7, BB-18 example, but without a silver plug). The present Lord St. Oswald coin is partially prooflike throughout the obverse margin and toward the center, with lightly frosted devices and ample mint luster shining through. Attractive lilac-blue and pale-gray field toning yields to well-seated, rich-gold patina that surrounds the raised elements and enlivens a sharp strike. The coin is exceptionally well-balanced front-to-back, imbued with similar shades on the reverse that deepen slightly within some of the lettering. A trio of widely spaced, light adjustment marks angle across the hair, temple, and one on the chin, as well as faintly near the rims -- surprisingly present but not unusual, despite the Mint-inserted silver plug. Liberty's cheek is full, rounded, and unblemished. The reverse displays a full visual of the silver plug, circular and toned deep-blue, its toning likely from a difference in silver alloys. The eagle's breast feathers are well-defined, with only minor weakening of strike at the eagle's leg and talons. Struck from the earliest die state (Bowers Die State I), with a tiny die line off each corner of the left ribbon end. This coin has a well-established provenance and is a stunning Gem -- Plus-graded by PCGS with CAC endorsement -- sure to attract bids commensurate with its place as the second-finest 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar.

    Plated in Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, 1988, p. 424, and Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1989, 1989, pp. 32-33. Also plated on page 32 Bowers and Borckardt's Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, 1993, p. 204, as well as David Bowers' The Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars 1794-1804, 2013, pp. 89-90. PCGS CoinFacts plate coin.
    Provenance: Likely purchased by William Strickland directly from the Philadelphia Mint in 1795; Charles Winn (husband of Priscilla Strickland, son in-law and cousin of William Strickland), by sale, 1834; four generations of the 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 144; Lester Merkin's sale of October 1973, lot 451; Dr. Herbert Ketterman to Jimmy Hayes, via sale; Jimmy Hayes Collection; Stack's sale of April 1983, lot 1220; RARCOA, by sale, September 1987; D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part II (Stack's Bowers - Sotheby's, 9/2015), lot 2043; Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24WZ, Variety PCGS# 39993, Base PCGS# 6854)

    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
    September, 2020
    17th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 31
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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