First Silver Dollar
1794 Flowing Hair Silver $1 PCGS
- $329,500. Click on Coin Image to
$1 B-1, BB-1, R.4, XF40 PCGS Secure. VERY CHOICE PLANCHET.
All 1794 Flowing Hair Dollars are rare in all conditions.
In its population report, PCGS shows just 11 in XF40.
These numbers do not account for crossovers and resubmissions.
However please check the variety to note that this 1794
dollar is an R-4 which is a rare variety. This coin
will be difficult to improve upon for the assigned grade
and you may wait many years to find a similar example
with such high end surfaces. Fully sharp date which
is extremely important when grading 1794 dollars.
note: Presently housed in a PCGS XF40 Secure holder,
the coin is listed in the Martin A. Logies reference,
The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794 on page 156.
Known as the Oliver E. Futter Specimen, the coin has
not been seen at auction for more than 40 years. In
its most recent appearance, it appeared as lot 1299
in Kagin's Sale of the 70's (11/1973), where it received
an exclamatory description:
herein offered is from the excessively rare early die
state with left stars being fairly sharp and complete!
The edge milling is sharp and complete all the way around!
Even the date is full and sharp! The reverse edge milling
is sharp and is virtually complete all around except
for the tiny portion between 'STATES' and 'OF.' The
legend is entirely sharp!! Superb lustrous golden bluish
patina! The sharpest struck specimen we can recall cataloging!"
contact me by email
or telephone 1-800-624-1870
to reserve this great coin.
On the reverse we see
the bottoms of all the letters of UNITED STATES while
the letters in AMERICA are strong. There are clash marks
present on both sides of the coin. It is unknown when
the dies clashed, but it is likely that the dies clashed
very early in the cycle of striking the 1794 dollars;
it may also mean that more later die state dollars survived
because a large number of those struck early in the
process were melted at the Mint as unacceptable strikings.
Like the uneven strike, these clash marks do not detract
from the grade. Chief Engraver Robert Scot designed
the Flowing Hair Dollar. It was issued from 1794 to
1795. It showed a portrait of Liberty facing right with
her hair loosely tied behind her head. This feature
evolved from the Flowing Hair Liberty portrait that
was featured on Joseph Wright’s Libertas Americans
medal of 1783. Over time Liberty was turned to the right
and was shown without the liberty pole and cap.
However, the basic idea
of Liberty’s hair free flowing, is similar to
the earlier concept. Above her head is the word LIBERTY,
and the date is below. There are fifteen stars in accord
with the number of states that made up the Union in
1794, eight to the left and seven to the right. The
reverse shows a perched eagle with wings spread looking
to the right. A wreath tied with a bow encircles the
eagle. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is in an
arc around the eagle. Except for its edge lettering,
the coin has no denomination-- something that might
appear as a sign of ineptitude on the part of early
Mint employees to someone familiar with United States
coinage of the 21st century. The omission was intentional,
however, since United States coinage was new to the
world market of the 18th century and the term “Dollar”
would have been unfamiliar to merchants of the day.
Like European coinage of the time, silver and gold pieces
were valued by their weight and fineness so the denomination
was largely irrelevant.
Prior to the issuance
of silver coinage, only copper coins were made because
neither the Chief Coiner, Henry Voigt, nor the Assayer,
Albion Cox, could post the $10,000 bond required to
be responsible for gold and silver. Thomas Jefferson
recommended to President Washington that this bond requirement
be reduced. Washington agreed, and in 1794 Scot was
able to produce dies for the cent, half dollar, and
the dollar coins. Since there was no standardized hubbing,
individual punches were used for numbers, letters, the
stars, and leaf punches. The edge was lettered HUNDRED
CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT with decorative designs in
between the words.
It is estimated that
about 140 examples of this date survive out of the 1,758
dollars that were struck on a hand-turned screw press
at the Mint in Philadelphia. The only day of production
for dollar coins that year was October 15th. They were
made from silver provided by David Rittenhouse, the
Mint Director, who wanted production to begin as soon
as possible. The early United States Mint was dependent
on private deposits of precious metals. Rittenhouse
deposited $2,001.34 worth of silver on August 29, 1794
so that silver dollar striking could begin. Using Rittenhouse’s
bullion and one set of dies, 2,000 silver dollars were
struck. Of these, 242 were found unacceptable and were
either remelted or used as planchets for the next year’s
run. All 1758 dollars were delivered to Rittenhouse
on October 15th, and it was his responsibility to distribute
the coins since he had deposited the bullion.
Even those 1794 Dollars
that were acceptable for distribution show many of the
difficulties the early United States Mint had with coinage
operations. Virtually all of the known examples are
softly struck to one degree or another at the left obverse
and reverse borders, as is the present coin. This is
due to the Mint’s use of a press that was intended
for smaller-size coins, as well as the fact that the
dies eventually “slipped” and became misaligned
in the press. Additionally, many 1794 Dollars display
adjustment marks that represent the Mint’s filing
down of overweight planchets to make them confirm to
the legally specified weight range for this issue. While
these adjustment marks are often innocuous, as on the
present coin, they are sometimes so numerous as to severely
compromise one or more design elements.
Coin Collectors have
pursued the 1794 silver dollar from the earliest days
of the hobby. It is the most important and one of the
rarest silver dollars. An example of this date was featured
in the first all coin auction sale held in this country,
the Roper Sale (M. Thomas and Sons, February, 1851),
lot 22, item number 4. The charisma of this coin cannot
be overemphasized. Many collectors choose this date
over the much less expensive 1795 dollar when putting
together a type set. Of course its position as first-date-of-issue
is another reason for advanced collectors to obtain
this date. Regardless of striking quality or level of
preservation, a 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar is extremely
important in numismatic circles, and the ownership of
even a low-grade and/or impaired example is the mark
of an important collection.
Before the Revolutionary
War, coins from many European nations circulated freely
in the American colonies along with decimal coinage
issued by the various colonies. Chief among these was
the Spanish silver dollar coins (also called pieces
of eight or eight reales) minted in Mexico and other
colonies with silver mined from Central and South American
mines. These coins, along with others of similar size
and value, were in use throughout the colonies. They
remained legal tender in the United States until 1857.
The dollar was intended to replace the Spanish, English,
Dutch and French coins that dominated the commerce of
the Confederation era. It was authorized on April 2,
1792 in an act that also created the United States Mint
and our nation’s coinage. Because it was the Unit,
the silver dollar was the most important coin created
and the basis of the nation’s monetary system.
All other coins struck, and all paper money as well,
are either fractional parts or multiples of the dollar.
The Logies study suggests
150 1794 dollars survive today in all grades, many of
them impaired. Other estimates are as low as 135 known
pieces, although the absolute number of survivors is
unimportant to collectors who realize that the significance
of owning any 1794 dollar is the confirmation of a truly
Ex: Oliver E. Futter (B. Max Mehl, November, 1954),
lot 2A; Oliver E. Futter (Stack's, May, 1957), lot 473;
Million Dollar Sale, Part I (Harmer, Rooke, 11/1969),
lot 1117; Sale of the 70's (Kagin's, 11/1973), lot 1299;