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    1794 No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar in Copper
    Unique Judd-18 Pattern, VF25
    'First Dollar Struck at the Mint'

    1794 DT$1 Dollar, Judd-18, Pollock-27, Unique, VF25 PCGS. Ex: Simpson. 327.3 grains. It would be easy, given the overwhelming scale and importance of the Bob R. Simpson Collection, for even the most impressive rarities to get somewhat lost in the fold. One could be forgiven for failing to appreciate just how rare and significant so many of these coins and patterns are given the sheer number of momentous offerings. This, however, is a coin that should stand out as a highlight among highlights.

    The 1794 dollar has always been a classic in the American series. Its net mintage of 1,758 coins represent the first silver dollars ever issued by the United States Mint, and only 140 to 150 pieces are thought to survive in all grades. In recent years, the 1794 has been the subject of even more intense interest among numismatic and non-numismatic audiences alike, thanks in large part to appearances of, research pertaining to, and international press coverage of the Neil-Carter-Cardinal-Morelan SP66 coin, possibly (some would say probably or certainly) the very first silver dollar struck in this country.
    Well, before the dies even were set up to strike that iconic rarity, this 1794 dollar in copper was the beneficiary of mint officials' time and energy. As such, we believe it has a strong claim to being the first dollar struck by the U.S. Mint. It is unique, with a storied pedigree, and should generate considerable attention as one of the most important offerings in the entire Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    Dies, Design, and Production of Judd-18
    The obverse features the adopted Flowing Hair portrait of Liberty with LIBERTY above and the date, 1794, below. The reverse is the regular-issue silver dollar design with a Small Eagle standing on a rock within a wreath and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the border. Struck in copper with a lettered edge that reads HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT with ornamentation between the words.

    For a long time, such respected numismatists as David Proskey and H.P. Smith of New York Coin and Stamp Company, Edgar Adams, William H. Woodin, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd, and others believed this copper pattern was struck from the same dies as the regular 1794 dollars (Bolender-1, BB-1), but before the stars had been added around the obverse. It was not until this piece passed through the hands of Bowers and Merena staffers Andrew Pollock III and Michael Hodder, who each claim to have made the discovery in separate publications, that it was found that Judd-18 was actually struck from an entirely different obverse die (the reverse die is a match for BB-1).

    Photographic overlay techniques were employed to confirm the finding in 1989. However, numerous differences between the two dies are clear to the naked eye. Here, the 4 is directly over a dentil, whereas on 1794 dollars it is over the space between two dentils. The digits 1 and 7 are spaced noticeably further apart and 94 noticeably closer together on Judd-18 than they are on 1794 silver dollars. Similarly, the letters in LIBERTY are placed minutely further left relative to the portrait on this copper pattern than they are on their circulation-strike counterparts. There are additional variations between the central devices. Liberty's curls are slightly different with a void between the lower and middle locks. The bust tip and shoulder are slightly more rounded compared to the pointed and flatter elements on regular 1794 silver dollars.

    Significance of the No Stars 1794 Dollar in Copper
    The first silver coins minted after the passage of the Mint Act of April 2, 1792 were the half dimes (dated 1794 but struck in 1795), half dollars, and dollars of 1794. All three denominations exist as copper patterns or die trials (Judd-14 to Judd-19). That includes a 1794 dollar struck from the regular BB-1 dies (Judd-19), which is permanently impounded in the National Numismatic Collection.

    It is indisputable that this copper pattern was struck from an entirely different, starless obverse die than Judd-19 or any of the regular 1794 dollars in silver. The question is, why? Michael Hodder attempts to answer that important query in "Our Country's First Silver Dollar," published in the August 1989 issue of The Numismatist. Hodder points out that nowhere in the Mint Act of 1792, which specifies the devices for American copper, silver, and gold coinage, does it stipulate that stars are required on silver or gold coins. The Act simply states:

    "Upon one side of each of the said coins there shall be an impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word Liberty, and the year of coinage; and upon the reverse of each of the gold and silver coins there shall be the figure or representation of an eagle, with this inscription, 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,' ... ."

    Notably, one of the previously mentioned copper die trials of 1794 (Judd-14) is a starless obverse half dime in the Smithsonian Institution collection. As the only other starless 1794 pattern, it is clearly the companion piece to this copper dollar. Hodder explains that these "two copper rarities, Judd-14 and Judd-18, may well represent a literal interpretation of the wording of the Mint Act of 1792, made before Director Rittenhouse -- himself or on the advisement of others (Scot?) -- decided to place stars on the obverses of the silver coinage of 1794." He concludes:

    "If this interpretation of the wording of the Act and the appearance of Judd-14 and Judd-18 is correct, then these two patterns represent the original types of our nation's coinage as stipulated by Congress and understood by the Mint. In this case, these patterns assume more importance to United States numismatics than would be accorded solely by their rarity. Rather, they become the only survivors from 1794 that show the originally intended appearance of our very earliest silver coinage. [Emphasis added]"

    Judd-18 is a coin of nearly unsurpassed numismatic and historical significance. While the specimen-strike 1794 dollar and the high-grade copper trial from the circulation-strike dies (Judd-19) survive in much better condition, this is the first dollar -- copper, silver, or otherwise -- struck at the United States Mint. It represents an early vision for American silver coinage -- its design closely resembles that of Judd-12, the 1792 Eagle-on-Globe pattern -- and presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for specialists in the early American dollar series, or, more broadly, anyone interested in the development of United States coinage.

    Physical Description
    This unique 1794 pattern dollar in copper was described as "good for the period" in its first auction appearance in 1890. The coin is corroded, with areas of significant roughness at the upper obverse and along the left side of the reverse. Jack Collins suggested it may have been excavated from the site of the first Philadelphia Mint. Its first owner, Philadelphia coin dealer John W. Haseltine, noted in his November 1881 Type Table catalog that he had "discovered" the "experimental dollar" "in this city and sold [it] to Dr. Davis about five years since."

    The deep brown surfaces exhibit pleasing reddish accents. Both sides display VF sharpness with a strong date, bold detail on the lower part of the portrait, and crisp definition on the eagle's head, right wing, tailfeathers, and talons. The coin is carefully centered with most of the dentils complete. There are small pinscratches, rim dings, and other marks throughout, but none of them, either individually or collectively, have any bearing on the singular importance of the only known Judd-18 representative.
    Ex: Possibly excavated from the site of the first Philadelphia Mint before 1876; John W. Haseltine; Robert Coulton Davis Collection (New York Coin and Stamp, 1/1890), lot 1009a; Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin and Stamp, 6/1890), lot 11; George D. Woodside Collection (New York Coin and Stamp, 4/1892), lot 5; William H. Woodin, exhibited at the 1914 ANS conference; Waldo Newcomer; F.C.C. Boyd; Dr. J. Hewitt Judd; Illustrated History of United States Coins (Abe Kosoff, 1962), lot 23; Sotheby's (12/1973); Ed Milas / RARCOA; a Delaware collector; Getty Collection (Bowers & Ruddy, 5/1977), lot 1835; Auction '80 (Stack's, 8/1980), lot 1389; Dr. Nelson Page Aspen Collection / ANA Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/1989), lot 741; Benson Collection, Part I (Goldberg Auctions, 2/2001), lot 153; Southern Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 11049)

    View all of [Important Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part V ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2021
    22nd-25th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 53
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