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    1794 Flowing Hair Dollar, VF Sharpness
    Ultimate First-Year Demand Rarity
    B-1, BB-1, Only Dies for the Date

    1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4 -- Repaired, Damaged -- NGC Details. VF.
    Bowers Die State III. Congressional legislation authorizing establishment of the Mint contained language that delayed filling the highest levels of Mint personnel -- in particular, the proposed Chief Coiner (Henry Voigt) and the Assayer of the United States Mint (Albion Cox). A surety bond of $10,000 was required for each position as part of the Mint & Coinage Act of 1792, and such a huge sum was beyond the resources of all but the wealthiest of individuals in the early 1790s, regardless of their qualifications and talent.

    Research by David Finkelstein (published in the in the December 2015 John Reich Journal) clarifies how this seemingly impossible obstacle was met. First, Mint Director David Rittenhouse lobbied Congress -- with the aid of President Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson -- to modify the surety bond requirements, eventually achieving new legislation that lowered the bonds to $5,000 for the Chief Coiner and $1,000 for the Assayer. These were still large sums. Contrary to conventional thought, David Rittenhouse did not provide the surety bond for Henry Voigt. A quartet of politically connected men stepped forward on Voigt's behalf -- Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Peter Muhlenberg, Henry Kammerer, and Nicholas Lutz -- posting the bond on April 4, 1794. Albion Cox's bond was posted on April 10, 1794 by Charles Gilchrist.

    That hurdle cleared, the Mint still struggled to produce the flagship of the silver series, the mandated 1794 silver dollar. Its large diameter was beyond the capabilities of the Mint's screw press, which was better suited for copper coinage than silver, and of a size no larger than a half dollar. An initial mintage of 2,000 silver dollars was reduced by 242 unacceptable coins, and many of the remaining 1,758 dollars were weakly struck from misaligned dies. Less than 10% of that mintage survives today.

    In addition to 134 documented specimens recorded in the Martin A. Logies reference, The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794, we are aware of two other previously unlisted specimens for a confirmed total of 136 surviving 1794 dollars. Of these, at least 35% are impaired in one way or another.

    This documented example is the "Goldberg May '07" coin, described on page 201 of the Logies book, where it is noted as "Scratched and Tooled." Now housed in a VF Details NGC holder as Repaired and Damaged, it shows light tooling in Liberty's hair and smoothing of the obverse fields, most likely to minimize some old pinscratches and graffiti. Small obverse digs are numerous across the obverse -- best viewed with a loupe, although they are somewhat less obvious in-hand. An old cleaning is now mellowed, while the reverse appears virtually problem-free for the grade and smoothly toned in golden-gray shades. Most of Liberty's hair strands are well-defined, while the date is weak but visible at all four digits.

    Any 1794 dollar is important and historic, and widely sought by collectors. We expect considerable interest when this example is called.

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    11th-14th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,483

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