A rare 1794 U.S. Silver Dollar has set a record price at $7.85 million. It is the finest known 1794 dollar and is widely believed to be the first silver dollar ever struck at the United States Mint. The buyer was an institution, the nonprofit Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation in Sunnyvale, California, which takes the coin out of individual ownership. The coin has been on display in cities around the country in a custom wooden exhibit case. While not on tour it was on exhibit at the American Numismatic Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The coin was in the Mint’s collection until the 1800s and has been in private hands ever since. Previous owners included Col. E.H.R. Green, W.W. Neil and Amon Carter Senior and Junior. The 1984 Stack’s Auction House of New York City lot description in the Carter Collection sale stated, “It is perfectly conceivable that this coin was the very first 1794 Silver Dollar struck!” 1,758 silver dollars were manually struck on a screw press at the Philadelphia mint in October 1794. Most of these are well worn from circulation and many display significant impairments. Only eight pieces are considered to be uncirculated. There are only about 140 surviving examples.The condition of this coin is unique. It was never mixed with other coins and has had special care since it was struck.
The Flowing Hair Type design of U.S. Silver Dollars has an obverse depicting Lady Liberty with long, flowing hair surrounded by 15 stars. The required word, LIBERTY , and the date, 1794, make up the balance of the design.
On the reverse, the words UNITED ST A TES OF AMERICA, and the very first use of the image of a Bald Eagle on a U.S. coin. The eagle is perched on a rock within a circle of olive branches. Authorized at the founding of our nation by the first Federal Law, the Mint Act of 1792, this coin is reminiscent of early U.S. History.
All 1794 dollars were struck on special silver provided by David Rittenhouse, the first Director of the Mint. With this record sale, this 1794 dollar takes its place as the most significant and valuable American coin existing today. The coin was previously known as the Carter Specimen from a prior owner , Amon Carter Sr., a Fort Worth newspaper publisher and Philanthropist who purchased it in 1947. The new foundation owner of the coin has established a web site for fans of Early American coins at www.EarlyDollars.org and www.EarlyUScoins.org. Another web site is planned, www.CCEFlibrary.org, that will provide access to the foundation’s extensive numismatic library.
For an exhaustive study of the survivors of this remarkable date, the reader of numismatic literature can refer to “The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794 – An Historical and Population Census Study”
by Martin A. Logies.