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    Description

    1794 Flowing Hair Dollar, VF35
    First U.S. Silver Dollar Issue
    B-1, BB-1, Ex: Mougey

    1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4, VF35 PCGS. Ex: Elder. Bowers Die State III. A few key, diagnostic markers on each side of this pleasing 1794 dollar trace its pedigree to the September 3, 1910 Thomas Elder coin auction, where it was plated as part of the magnificent Peter Mougey Collection. That important sale was the only time this coin had been publicly offered (to the best of our knowledge), and it was the coin's only auction appearance until it was consigned to our January, 2007 FUN sale. In the Mougey sale, it quietly brought $150 as lot 940, while it realized more than $200,000 during enthusiastic floor bidding at our 2007 FUN Platinum Night. A repeat appearance in our February 2018 Long Beach Signature brought an even higher price realized of $303,000.

    More than a century ago, Elder described the coin only briefly: "Head of Liberty undraped. Standing eagle. About Fine. Extremely rare." That was hardly a rousing description to lead off what Elder touted as "SILVER DOLLARS / The Rarest Collection Ever Offered."

    The low-key approach was not out of character for the era or the collector. Peter Mougey (1841-1908) was a grocer by trade, and also a coin collector who quietly amassed an important cabinet. Although he was an early ANA member (number 47), Mougey was little known in his time except among a few well-connected dealers and collectors. Even today he is remembered primarily by large cent collectors. But in addition to his fine large cents and half cents, Mougey also owned a rare 1802 half dime (today known as the seventh-finest example), as well as important collections of half dollars and silver dollars. His nearly complete date set of early half eagles represented most issues from 1813 to 1834, and an extensive assemblage of proof sets from 1842 to 1906 included a run of gold proof sets from 1882 to 1903. All were part of Mougey's impressive holdings. William H. Woodin purchased Mougey's collection en masse, keeping a number of select coins including many gold pieces and a few silver dollars, while the rest of Mougey's extensive collection made up the 1910 Thomas Elder offerings (then owned by Woodin), including the present 1794 silver dollar.

    It is important to understand that grading standards are much different today than during the early 20th century. Specialists will note that this coin has an unusually sharp strike for the first-year issue, with the stars all boldly defined, including stars 1 to 4. Only minor weakening of the left obverse border appears on the circumference of the piece. Tellingly, the word STATES is fully formed and the date is sharp as it can be for the coin's VF35 grade. A check of 130+ 1794 dollars in the Martin A. Logies reference confirms that only 20% to 25% of all known 1794 specimens demonstrate these well-executed striking characteristics. Apparently, this coin and a few others were produced before the dies were misaligned.
    A tiny planchet flaw is visible just right of star 8, and a long, thin scratch from the top of OF to the top of AM are both useful features to positively identify this example. A few other light scratches appear on each side, along with scattered, faint adjustment marks near the obverse borders. None of these imperfections are overly significant for the assigned grade. To be sure, this is a highly attractive example of a midgrade, moderately circulated 1794 dollar. Pleasing lilac-gray and brownish-gold color adorns the Choice surfaces, and the coin displays an important pedigree along with a notably sharp strike that will more than satisfy even the most particular collector of early dollars.
    Ex: Peter Mougey (Thomas Elder, 9/1910), lot 940, which brought $150; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 1020, realized $207,000; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2018), lot 3947; realized $303,000.
    From The Watermark Collection. (NGC ID# 24WY, Variety PCGS# 39972, Base 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.

    View all of [The Watermark Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 45
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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