1804 Silver Dollar
The 1804 Silver Dollar is a United States dollar coin, referred to often as the “King of American Coins”. Auctioneer Heritage Auction Galleries has described the coin as “currently not the most expensive American coin - merely the most famous”.
Heritage offering marks the first time a Class I Original 1804 dollar has appeared at auction in nearly a decade, since the PR64 Dexter-Dunham example brought $1,840,000 in the year 2000.
“Well before such latter-day rarities as the 1913 Liberty nickels, the 1894-S Barber dimes, or the 1907 Ultra High Relief double eagles, the 1804 silver dollars were acknowledged as the most famous U.S. coins, yardsticks by which great American numismatic collections were measured.”
15 specimens of the coin are known. Eight comprise Class I, minted in 1834. Two Class I specimens trace their lineage to the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat. One comprises Class II and six comprise Class III and were minted sometime between 1858 to 1860.
Silver coins had appeared in 1804 - 19,750 silver dollars were struck that year according to United States Mint records - from old but still-usable dies dated 1803 - and are indistinguishable from the coins produced the previous year.
Silver dollars dated 1804 did not appear until 1834. The U.S. Department of State was creating sets of coins to present as gifts to certain rulers in Asia, in exchange for trade advantages.
The Mint was ordered to produce "two specimens of each kind now in use, whether of gold, silver or copper" by the US Government. Mint employees struck several dollars with an 1804 date. Due to the cost-cutting measures of the US Mint in its early history and the reuse of 1803 dies, this act led to confusion.
The Class I Original 1804 dollar
The Class I 1804 dollar coin sold by Heritage had a long and historic provenance that extending back to noted 19th century collector Joseph J. Mickley.
The coin, graded PR62 by NGC, is one of eight Original Class I 1804 silver dollars known today.
Of those eight coins, only five are in private collections, with the remainder in institutional holdings with one example in The Smithsonian Institution.
In August, 2008, Dallas auctioneer Heritage Auction Galleries offered a Class I Original 1804 dollar at auction for the first time in nearly a decade. It sold for $3,737,500, including Buyer’s Premium.
Previously, the PR64 Dexter-Dunham example brought $1,840,000 in the year 2000.