An Important 1794 Silver Dollar
Just Consigned to Stack’s August 8 Boston Sale:
There is an important offering of a 1794 silver dollar grading Fine-15 (PCGS) in our upcoming Boston Auction on August 8, 2010. The coin is from the Arthur Sargent Collection, sold by Samuel Hudson Chapman on June 20, 1907, later appearing again in the Brand-Lichtenfels Collection sold by Abner Kreisberg and Hans M. F. Schulman on March 18-21, 1964 as Lot 1110.
The 1794 pieces were the first “dollar” coins struck by our fledgling Philadelphia Mint in October of that year. The coining press was not designed for a coin of this large size and thus virtually all known examples are weakly impressed on the left side. As the primary unit of measure for the new United States, the dollar’s importance cannot be overstated. Each planchet was carefully weighed and measured to the precise amount of silver required to be a “dollar,” which at that time was a measure of gold that could legally be translated into silver at the rate of 16 parts silver to 1 part of gold. If a coiner slighted the amount of silver or gold in the coins produced, the penalty was death, and thus great care was taken to produce coins that were as mathematically precise as possible within the narrowly defined tolerance range for each denomination. Therefore, any 1794 silver dollar represents not just the physical metal that measured a “dollar” but carries with it all the ideals of the new Federal system developed by our founding fathers.
This silver dollar is one of the most historic and important coins from our early Federal period, and a rarity that has always been highly coveted. Considerable research by the late Jack Collins and Walter Breen has determined that between 125 and 130 silver dollars of 1794 survive.