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SERIES: (None)
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1794 $1 (Special Strike)


PCGS SP66
PCGS #:
86851
Diameter:
40.00 millimeters
Designer:
Robert Scot
Weight:
27.00 grams
Edge:
Lettered: HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT
Mintage:
Metal Content:
90% Silver, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$10,016,875 • PCGS SP66 • 1-1-2013 • Stack's/Bowers
 
Condition Census (Explain)
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 SP66 PCGS grade  

Virgil Brand Collection - James Kelly's Fixed Price List #20, 1945 - C. David Pierce - Art & Paul Kagin - Will W. Neil Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1947:1 - Amon G. Carter Family Collection - Stack's 1/1984:207, $264,000 - Hugh Sconyers for the American Rare Coin Fund Limited Partnership - Superior 1/1986:1173 - Superior 5/1991:699 - Knoxville Collection, sold by private treaty to Jay Parrino - Steve Contursi, acquired via private treaty - Cardinal Collection, acquired via private treaty in May 2010 for the record price of $7,850,000 - Stack's/Bowers 1/2013:13094, $10,016,875 - Legend Numismatics, as agent - TradeDollarNut Collection

Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 SP66 PCGS grade  

Virgil Brand Collection - James Kelly's Fixed Price List #20, 1945 - C. David Pierce - Art & Paul Kagin - Will W. Neil Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1947:1 - Amon G. Carter Family Collection - Stack's 1/1984:207, $264,000 - Hugh Sconyers for the American Rare Coin Fund Limited Partnership - Superior 1/1986:1173 - Superior 5/1991:699 - Knoxville Collection, sold by private treaty to Jay Parrino - Steve Contursi, acquired via private treaty - Cardinal Collection, acquired via private treaty in May 2010 for the record price of $7,850,000 - Stack's/Bowers 1/2013:13094, $10,016,875 - Legend Numismatics, as agent - TradeDollarNut Collection

David Hall:

As a major player in the coin market for 30 years and founder of PCGS I've seen a lot of really great coins. But in 2003, PCGS graded a coin that made even my heart thump, a spectacular 1794 silver dollar. PCGS gave the coin the special designation of "Specimen" and a grade of SP66.

I believe the coin is the finest known example of the first U.S. silver dollar, and quite possibly the very first piece struck of the denomination. It is a magnificent Gem and a gorgeous historic treasure.

This particular 1794 silver dollar has been one of the most famous American coins for generations, ever since B. Max Mehl offered it as the highlight to the Will W. Neil collection in 1947. The coin resided in the Amon Carter, Jr., collection for several decades while rumors swirled around it. Was it really as nice as they say? Was it really better than the Lord St. Oswald examples? Was it really a possible Proof? Did it really have mirror fields and a full strike?

Most of these questions were answered in January of 1984 when the Carter family collection was auctioned by Stack's and Lot #207 proved to be the Neil/Carter 1794 dollar. B Max Mehl had called the coin "Probably the finest known specimen!" and the Stack's cataloguer could only agree, pointing out that he had examined or sold “every known Mint State 1794 silver dollar.”

The description in the Carter sale also made a convincing argument that "It is perfectly conceivable this coin was the very first 1794 silver dollar struck." This statement was not idle conjecture but was based on the identical die state to the copper die trial that was in Stack's possession at the time. One theory is that this is the Adam Eckfeldt-Mint Cabinet coin that was traded for Washingtonia in the 1840-1850s by the Mint Director, James Ross Snowden. There were many coins that were traded from the Mint Cabinet for Washingtonia and other "holes" in the collection. This coin very likely is one of those traded coins.

PCGS does not certify any U.S. coins struck before 1816 as Proofs. There are a small handful of pre-1816 coins that were quite obviously special strikes that PCGS designates as "Specimens." PCGS determined that the coin is a Specimen striking (SP-66) based on the following reasons:

  1. The Neil/Carter example is in the exact die state as the copper die trial and is possibly the first silver dollar struck.
  2. The coin is one of the few examples known that is struck from aligned dies, showing that it is almost certainly one of the first pieces struck.
  3. The planchet was specially prepared. The term for this is "burnishing," and the planchet was polished with wet sand (the method of the time) prior to the coin being struck.
  4. The coin is radically different from any other known example. Not only is the strike of the coin significantly superior to other known examples, it is also wholly prooflike, with full reflectivity in the fields on both sides.
  5. The state of preservation of the coin shows that it was specially handled from the beginning. The coin was struck on October 15, 1794 and has been magnificently preserved since that day, having never been in a bag or seeing contact with other coins.
  6. The adjustment marks do not preclude a Specimen striking. The planchet was overweight, it was adjusted (and over-adjusted), then it was plugged to increase the weight to the most precise degree available to the 18th-century coiners.
  7. This is the only plugged-at-the-Mint example known to us. This was done prior to striking, of course. Mint plugs are frequently seen on the 1795 Flowing Hair dollars (and a few 1795 Flowing Hair half dollars), but not the 1794 issues, until now.

Today the Neil/Carter 1794 silver dollar is one of the most exciting, beautiful and valuable coins in the world. Over the past 200+ years it has acquired a lovely gray-gold patina that exhibits multi-colored highlights. The strike is the finest, being razor-sharp in most areas. The surfaces are "as struck" with the only imperfections being minor Mint-caused adjustment marks and planchet flaking. The prooflike surfaces and overall eye appeal are legendary qualities that have thrilled numismatists ever since the coin was first offered for viewing.


Ron Guth: According to a press release on the PCGS website dated May 21, 2010, the Neil-Carter 1794 Specimen Silver Dollar was sold by Rare Coin Wholesalers (in a sale brokered by Greg Roberts of Spectrum Group International) for $7,850,000, a record price.  The purchaser was nonprofit Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation in Sunnyvale, California (the Cardinal Foundation and its director and numismatic curator, Martin Logies, are well-known for their ground-breaking publication that listed all of the known examples of the 1794 Silver Dollar).


Jaime Hernandez: On January 24, 2013 the 1794 silver dollar graded PCGS SP66 sold at a Stack's Bowers auction realizing a record $10,016,875. This makes it the first coin to ever sell for $10 million.


P. Scott Rubin: The following is an attempt to put the 1794 Plugged Silver Dollar into an historical perspective. It does not prove it is the first Silver Dollar Struck, but it explains why it probably is. If there was one struck before it in silver it has not been seen in over 150 years.

The first silver dollar sized coin struck at the U.S. Mint was a copper pattern without stars, Judd-18, similar to the Patten 1794 Half Disme without stars struck in copper, Judd-14. Both designs were rejected; a new obverse die was created for the Dollar with stars added Judd-19. In the case of the Half Dime, both dies were rejected and stars were added to the obverse and the words Half Disme removed from the reverse.

A new obverse dollar die was created and the unique 1794 Dollar struck in copper was struck to test the dies. It seems likely that immediately after the striking of the copper coin an example of the coin in silver was struck. As John Dannreuther believes this coin’s planchet was specially regulated to verify its silver content. Since the planchet was both plugged to bring up its silver content and then filed to lower it to make sure it was as close to government regulation of fineness as possible.. Before the first silver coin was struck the planchet was polished the dies may or may not have been polished again and a silver one dollar coin was struck.

Since the Mint reported to the Department of State, under Thomas Jefferson and not the Department of Treasury, under Alexander Hamilton, President George Washington showed his belief that coins were to be an important symbol of our new country. This is also why David Rittenhouse our countries best known scientist, after Benjamin Franklin, was chosen for the job of Director of the Mint. Putting this all together one very possible reason for this coin’s existence is that it was produced as a symbol of the United States Government, it being the first striking of its largest denomination coin to date, the Dollar. This was now the coin that would symbolize The United States to the whole world. I am sure Rittenhouse, Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson would have realized the importance of such an issue.

It is probable that this was done sometime before Oct. 15th, 1794 and that this dollar was viewed by at least David Rittenhouse and maybe also by Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton but as far as I known no records of this being done is known.

During this approval examination It seems that dies were removed from the press and later reset for the striking of all other known 1794 Silver Dollars, because the alignment of the dies and clashing evident on all other dollars examined by John Dannreuther are different from the 1794 Copper pattern and the 1794 Silver Coin with the silver plug.