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    1794 Flowing Hair Dollar, VF30
    Classic First-Year Rarity, B-1, BB-1
    Attractive Surfaces, Crisp Central Devices

    1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4, VF30 NGC. The Mint Resolution of 1791 granted President George Washington authorization to seek personnel and secure equipment for a Federal Mint, but the Resolution was weakly worded and lacked resolve, nor did it provide any tangible means of financial support. Still, before the ink was dry on the Resolution, two important decisions were made. The first was to create a sovereign national Mint, rather than rely on outside contractors or foreign producers for coinage operations. Ongoing pressure remained from influential individuals who had a vested interest in keeping the nation's coinage in private hands.

    A second decision established a new decimal system of coinage -- uniquely American -- foregoing the temptation to rely on traditional methods of reckoning based on foreign currencies. No real progress was made toward either objective until the Mint Act of April 2, 1792 was passed by Congress. That legislation provided the "teeth" and wherewithal to support a new Mint and create a comprehensive Federal coinage system.

    After passage of the Mint Act, initial mintages of U.S. half dismes, half cents, and large cents followed in rapid-fire succession. Those lesser denominations set the stage for production of the primary coins of commerce -- half dollars and dollars, to be struck in 1794. The Mint was ill equipped for such large-sized coinage, with a screw press that was better suited to the smaller denominations, and it had few resources for silver bullion. Planchet preparation was rudimentary at best.

    It was not until October 1794 that any large silver coinage was attempted at the Mint. Flowing Hair silver dollars led the way -- the first large silver coins struck, becoming the new nation's showpiece -- although the mechanics of striking such a sizeable silver issue were far more challenging than expected. The coin's large diameter was beyond the screw press capabilities, which were better suited for copper coinage than silver, and could effectively strike coins of a size no larger than a half dollar.

    An initial mintage of 2,000 silver dollars was managed, although that count was reduced by at least 242 unacceptable coins. Many of the remaining 1,758 dollars were weakly struck from misaligned dies. Less than 10% of the mintage survives today. Half dollars were a much better fit for the Mint's equipment, and a significant mintage of 23,464 half dollars was accomplished dated 1794.

    Silver dollars were not struck again until a larger screw press was installed and deemed operational in June 1795. Most of the silver dollar production problems were solved by the larger press.

    Of the few 1794 silver dollar that survive, not many pieces can match the smooth and untroubled surfaces of this attractive VF30 example. Known as the Kissner Sale specimen, its first confirmed appearance was when offered in Stack's June 1975 auction, lot 710:

    "1794 First year of issue. A nice Very Good specimen, even wear. Characteristic softness of strike in area of date and stars on left side, with corresponding weakness on reverse in area of UNITED STATES OF. Quite similar in overall appearance to the Spies coin which was distinctive as it too survived general circulation with such perfect even wear; without any surface digs or marks worthy of mention."

    The coin exceeded its pre-sale estimate by more than 60% at a strong $5,000 -- the second-highest price realized in the entire Kissner auction, which included many top-grade and Condition Census early large cents from 1793 and 1794, as well as several Choice early silver type coins.

    This example has moved up in grade since that appearance more than 40 years ago, and to our knowledge it has not appeared at auction since a 1992 appearance in Superior's Dr. Jack Adams Collection (May-June 1992) as lot 2100, some 27 years ago. It maintains its amazingly smooth and attractive, pale golden-tan patina. The surfaces are entirely free of adjustment marks, with well-defined central devices.

    This coin represents Bowers Die State II (Logies Die State III), with areas of die clashing on both sides. Clash marks surround Liberty's portrait and the inside of the reverse wreath. Clearly, the coin was struck prior to extensive lapping of the dies, which would indicate the later (and more available) Bowers Die State III coins.

    Grading services are perhaps more forgiving in recent years for the strike characteristics of 1794 dollars, which -- more often than not -- show significant weakness on both the obverse and reverse along the lower-left margin. Here, the date is readable with the top half of all four numerals weak but visible. A minor reverse rim bump at 6 o'clock pedigrees the coin to the Kissner auction, the sole mark of any significance on either side. The coin is plated and listed in Martin A. Logies' The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794 on page 209 of that reference.

    Always of enduring popularity, any 1794 dollar is symbolic of an advanced collection, or serves as the capstone for a superior early type set. We expect enthusiastic bidder response for this virtually problem-free, pleasing VF30 example.
    Ex: United States Coins, featuring the Robert J. Kissner Collection (Stack's, June 1975), lot 710; United States Gold, Silver, & Copper Coins (Stack's, May 1990), lot 1195; Dr. Jack Adams Collection (Superior Galleries, May-June 1992), lot 2100; the present consignor.
    From The Kodiak Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 24WY, Variety PCGS# 39972, Base PCGS# 6851)

    Weight: 26.96 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    View all of [The Kodiak Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 25
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,142

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
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