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1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar

 
1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar

The USA's first silver dollar coin. This design by U.S.Mint Chief Engraver Robert Scot was only used in 1794 and briefly the following year. The obverse depicts 15 stars around the symbolic Miss Liberty with long, flowing hair with the word, LIBERTY, above her and the date, 1794, below. On the reverse the words, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, surround an olive tree branch and an eagle that would be enhanced in subsequent designs starting in 1795 with the Draped Bust dollar.

Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation director and its numismatic curator, Martin Logies, who is author of the book, The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794, estimates there are only 134 surviving examples. A total of 1,758 silver dollars were struck on a hand-turned screw press at the U.S.Mint in Philadelphia on October 15, 1794, the only day of production for dollar coins that year.


The Neil/Carter/Contursi specimen 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, graded PCGS SP66. Photo: Rare Coin Wholesalers

The Flowing Hair silver dollars were intended to replace the Spanish, English, Dutch and French coins of the post-Colonial era. The September 1880 issue of The Coin Journal notes that a good quality specimen of the 1794 dollar was valued at fifty dollars.

Only six coins are universally recognized by numismatic experts as Mint State 1794 Silver Dollars:
1.The Neil-Carter-Contursi-Cardinal Specimen. Silver Plug. Specimen-66 (PCGS). This 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar Coin set a new world record coin price when it sold for $10,016,875 to Legend Numismatics on January 24, 2013.
2.The Col. Green-Rogers-Stellar Specimen. MS-66 (PCGS).
3.The Lord St. Oswald-Ostheimer-Hayes Specimen. MS-66 (PCGS). In a private Southwest collection.
4.The Virgil Brand-F.C.C. Boyd-Cardinal Specimen. MS-64 (NGC).
5.The Lord St. Oswald-Norweb Specimen. MS-64 (PCGS).
6.The L.R. French, Jr. Family Specimen. MS-62+ (PCGS). In a private Midwestern collection.

1. The Neil/Carter/Contursi specimen 1794 Flowing Hair dollar

This Graded PCGS Specimen-66 Gem Specimen example is the finest known to exist. Many experts believe this coin was the first silver dollar coin struck by the U.S. Mint.

The coin’s pedigree name, Neil/Carter/Contursi specimen, comes from previous owners:

 1. Will W. Neil whose letterhead read: "Numismatist by Instinct - Pharmacist from Necessity". His collection included many of the top U.S. rarities, such as: 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, 1894-S Dime, 1876-CC Twenty Cent Piece, 1838-O Half Dollar, 1804 Dollar, 1870-S Dollar and a 1885 Trade Dollar

2. Amon Carter Sr. and Jr., Fort Worth newspaper publisher and philanthropist purchased it in 1947 from Mr. Neil at a B. Max Mehl auction.

 3. Steven Contursi, president of Rare Coin Wholesalers in Irvine, purchased it for $2.5 million in 2003  from the Knoxville Collection described as the best type set of U.S. silver coins at the time. From 2004 to 2009, the coin was a featured exhibit at the American Numismatic Association's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was displayed at a half dozen ANA World's Fair of Money and National Money Show conventions around the country.

This coin is recorded in 1890 as included in the extensive coin collection of Colonel E.H.R. Green, known as one of the original owners of all five of the 1913 Liberty Head Nickels known to exist, 1804 dollar, 1838-O half dollar and over 200 1796 quarters.

The 1984 Stack's auction lot description in the Carter Collection sale stated, "It is perfectly conceivable that this coin was the very first 1794 Silver Dollar struck!” Over the decades, various numismatic researchers have stated a similar belief including Walter Breen, Jack Collins, John Dannreuther, David Hall and Logies in the book, The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794.

1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar World's Most Expensive Coin

January 24, 2013 - The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar Coin has set a new world record coin price when it sold for $10,016,875 to Legend Numismatics, a rare-coin firm based in New Jersey.

Auction house Stack's Bowers Galleries sold several pieces from the famous Cardinal Collection, with $17.2 million in rare coins sold on the day in Stack's Bowers Galleries New York Americana Sale. 'It is the first American metal dollar struck and the finest known. You have these combinations coming together. No museum has an equal piece,' said David Bowers, chairman emeritus of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

In May 2010, Cardinal Collection acquired this coin via private treaty for the record price of $7,850,000 from Steve Contursi. The Cardinal Collection, amassed by the collector Martin Logies was described by Bowers as the 'Old Masters' of coins struck during the earliest years of the U.S. Mint.

Another top seller in the sale of 94 lots by Stack's Bowers Galleries was the 1792 Half Disme, which dates back to David Rittenhouse, the first director of the U.S. Mint. It fetched $975,000, plus a 17.5% buyer's commission.

The sole known specimen of a 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold double eagle held the record price previously when it sold on 30 July 2002 to an anonymous bidder at a Sotheby's auction held in New York for $6.6 million, plus a 15-percent buyer's premium, and an additional $20 needed to “monetize” the face value of the coin so it would become legal currency, bringing the final sale price to $7,590,020.00.

Bowers said coins are a good investment, have a worldwide market and have risen steadily in value. 'We're continually surprised by surprises,' he said, adding there are several million coin collectors around the globe. 'They want to collect coins for appreciation, art, rarity and beauty.'

"We felt in our heart that this would be the very first coin to exceed the $10 million barrier in auction and were in fact prepared to bid much high in order to acquire this unique piece of history," the company said in a statement, adding it had no plans to sell the coin in the near future.

May 20, 2010 - The Neil/Carter/Contursi specimen 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar sold for $7,850,000, setting a new record as the world's most valuable rare coin.

The coin was sold by Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, California, to the nonprofit Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation (CCEF). Collector and numismatic researcher Martin Logies represented the foundation of which he is a director and its numismatic curator. The private sale was brokered by Greg Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer of Spectrum Group International of Irvine, California.

2.The Col. Green-Rogers-Stellar Specimen. MS-66 (PCGS).


3.The Lord St. Oswald-Ostheimer-Hayes Specimen. MS-66 (PCGS). This coin is impounded in a private Southwest collection for the foreseeable future.


4.The Virgil Brand-F.C.C. Boyd-Cardinal Specimen. MS-64 (NGC).

Aug. 7, 2010 - Bowers and Merena August Boston Rarities Auction featured the Virgil Brand-F.C.C. Boyd-Cardinal specimen of the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar which sold for $1,207,500. The seller of the rare coin, Martin Logies, author of the book The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794 and director and curator of the Cardinal Collection CCEF, had recently purchased the Neil/Carter/Contursi 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar for $7.85 million in a private transaction brokered by Spectrum Group International, Bower and Merena Auctions’ parent company.

The 2010 Bowers and Merena August Boston Rarities Auction featured this Virgil Brand-F.C.C. Boyd-Cardinal specimen of the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar which sold for $1.2 Million.


5.The Lord St. Oswald-Norweb Specimen. MS-64 (PCGS). The current owner of this coin briefly contemplated selling it in February 2010, but has since decided to keep it in his possession for the benefit of his children and grandchildren. This coin, too, is impounded for the foreseeable future.


6.The L.R. French, Jr. Family Specimen. MS-62+ (PCGS). Impounded for the foreseeable future in a private Midwestern collection.

 


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