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Lot 3167

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3167
Date 1794
Side obverse
Grade 50
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 39972
Denomination S$1
Description 1794 $1 B-1, BB-1, R.4, AU50 NGC. CAC. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. Following the resolution of the famous coinage impediment that prevented gold and silver coinage in 1793 and early 1794, David Rittenhouse deposited 1734.5 ounces of silver worth $2,001 on August 29, 1794. An earlier deposit from the Bank of Maryland on July 28 was found to be substantially below the official coinage fineness and required further operations. Due to those delays, the Rittenhouse deposit was used for the coinage of 1,758 silver dollars that were delivered from the chief coiner to the mint treasurer on October 15, 1794. There were 2,000 silver dollars struck, effectively matching the value of the mint director's deposit, but 242 of those coins were rejected as unacceptable. The entire mintage was paid to Rittenhouse who then distributed them to others. The coinage impediment originated with the Mint Act of April 2, 1792. Section 5 of that legislation required those mint officers actually handling precious metal to post a surety: {blockquote}"And be it further enacted, that the said assayer, chief coiner, and treasurer, previously to entering upon the execution of their respective offices, shall each become bound to the United States of America, with one or more sureties to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury, in the sum of ten thousand dollars, with condition for the faithful performance of the duties of his office."{/blockquote} For the Mint Treasurer, Dr. Nicholas Way, the $10,000 surety was apparently not a problem. However, for the assayer, Albion Cox, and the coiner, Henry Voigt, the requirement was a major problem. Neither was able to gain a bond for that amount, and Albion Cox was only able to get a bond of $1,000. In February 1794, Rittenhouse reported to Congress: "I beg leave to suggest the propriety of authorizing the President to direct security to be taken to such amount as he shall judge proper; it being well known that a man's ability to give security depends much on accidental circumstances, little connected with either his qualifications or his moral character." As Cox and Voigt were best qualified for their positions, the bond requirement was lowered to meet their circumstances. An outstanding 1794 silver dollar, the Eric P. Newman coin features natural gold, blue, and iridescent toning near the borders, framing the light silver-gray interior areas. A few grade-consistent surface marks are present, with a nick on the jaw and a trivial scratch on the lower portion of the bust that are excellent identifiers, matching this piece to the plate in the Stickney and Lambert catalogs. The strike is far finer than usual, with a bold date and complete stars on the obverse. This piece is clearly sharper than several others that are certified as XF45, confirming the AU50 grade that NGC assigns. The Newman example represents the middle die state, exhibiting light clash marks and attenuated hair curls from obverse die lapping. The third hair curl from the bottom consists of a series of shallow lines culminating in a single strand, rather than the well-developed curl of earlier die states. In The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794, Martin Logies reproduced an image from a Chapman plate of this coin, and assigned a conservative grade of XF40, apparently based on the image that was used in that book. However, Logies ranked this piece among others that are graded XF45, and placed it in the 22nd position in his book. The accurate NGC grade of AU50 will elevate its census rank to the 13th finest of all documented 1794 silver dollars. Henry Chapman cataloged this dollar as Fine for the June 1907 Stickney sale: {blockquote}"1794 Head of Liberty undraped, the hair flowing loosely down over the back, facing right, above LIBERTY, before head seven stars and behind it eight stars; date beneath. R. Eagle standing on the ground, facing left, the wings upraised, the head turned back to right, within a wreath composed of two branches of olive, tied by a ribbon; around UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Border serrated. Edge, lettered HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT. Fine. One of the finest dollars of this year sold for many years. Extremely rare, and I may state that in over thirty years in this business I have never had brought in among a lot of coins, other than a regular collection, a dollar of 1794, and it is even more surprising when the number so examined has been probably ten thousand lots."{/blockquote} Samuel Hudson Chapman cataloged this piece as Extremely Fine for the October 1910 Lambert sale: {blockquote}"1794 Head of Liberty r., 8 stars behind and 7 before head. LIBERTY above, date beneath. Rev., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; eagle standing on ground within olive wreath. Edge, HUNDRED CENTS, ONE DOLLAR, OR UNIT. Extremely fine. The stars behind head always weakly struck and sometimes invisible are evenly struck and distinct. One of the finest specimens known. From S.H.C. at $200, from the Stickney sale at $190."{/blockquote} In the Lambert sale, this piece realized the same $190 that it brought at the Stickney sale three years earlier. Now appearing for public sale for the first time in 104 years, the numismatic world awaits learning the current value of this remarkable 1794 silver dollar. Ex: Matthew A. Stickney (Henry Chapman, 6/1907), lot 803; Samuel Hudson Chapman; Major Richard Lambert (Samuel Hudson Chapman, 10/1910), lot 177; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $600.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $470000.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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