Chapter 5: 1804 Novodel Dollars Table of Contents

Resumption of Dollar Coinage Proposed
In view of this change in commercial practice, in 1831 Director Moore asked the Treasury to transmit to President Andrew Jackson a request that the 1806 prohibition against dollar coinage be lifted and the Mint given permission to resume production. On April 18 the Treasury replied, saying that the president had approved the request."

Based on the die progression of the 1804 dollar hubs as compared to the 1801-1803 Proof “restrikes" (novodels), it seems likely, that Director Moore ordered Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt, whose department prepared working dies in those days, to make up several dollar dies. It appears that four obverses were made as compared to two reverses. The intent seems to have been to have two pairs with an additional two obverses for emergency purposes. One of the obverses, later to be used for the 1801 Proof novodel, did not have stars, date, or even carry the word "LIBERTY."

These dies used the old Liberty head and eagle hubs last used for the dies of 1803, but also incorporated certain changes, such as a beaded border, introduced by Engraver William Kneass in 1828. This, of course, shows only that the dies could not have been made before 1828 and does not prove that they were made in 1831.

There was no dollar coinage in 1831 because the odd shift in commercial patterns went back to the old way by the summer of that same year. One assumes that Moore made further inquiries and found the situation was rather unstable and that exporters had now gone back to the familiar process of sending Spanish (or Mexican) dollars to China for goods.

All was now quiet, waiting for the other shoe to fall. And fall it did, in the summer of 1834. As part of an ongoing effort to open up certain countries to trade with the United States, Edmund Roberts was made a special commercial representative to the Middle East. He was told to go to the Kingdom of Muscat (on the Arabian peninsula) as well as Siam.

Coins Made for Presentation
Roberts suggested a considerable number of presents (such as telescopes), and he also believed that sets of American coins should be included on such a list. The coins were to be suitably encased in "caskets" with colors representing the national arms of the given country. The State Department asked the Treasury to handle the matter. Soon Director Moore found himself being ordered to prepare sets of American coins. The instructions were a little vague, with considerable room for interpretation.

Because Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt had been at the Mint in varying capacities since 1792 and had collected a nearly complete set of coins issued since that time, it was natural for Moore to consult this officer in the decision on which coins to strike. The major problem was the silver dollar and gold eagle, neither of which had been minted since 1804.

Eckfeldt presumably consulted his collection and found that he had not saved the 1804 dollar. No one remembered in the 1830s that the 1803 date (and/ or other earlier dates) had been used exclusively in 1804. Although of course no one now knows precisely why the decision was made to include the dollar and eagle, it has to be assumed that the most important reason behind the choice was one of prestige. Smaller coins might impress virtually no one while the dollar and eagle were certainly magnificent to behold when coined with a Proof finish.

(Although Adam Eckfeldt had made an effort to save every different date for each denomination, he was not always successful or perhaps short of money on occasion. In particular he is known to have missed the 1815 and 1822 half eagles. The latter date was obtained by Eckfeldt in 1834 or 1835 when great quantities of old tenor gold came in for reminting into coins to the August 1, 1834 standard. The 1822 was found in one of the deposits; perhaps other dates were saved at that time.)

It is odd that the last coining date (1804) was chosen for both the eagle and dollar, but perhaps Moore thought that this was the best way to go. The small, but growing, number of collectors might not be so happy if they were unable to get 1834 dollars, but those of 1804 (which Eckfeldt assumed were out there) were another matter. Condition was not as important to collectors in 1834, and Proofs were not as widely coveted then as now.

In November 1834 the two sets of coins were duly struck and placed in the "caskets" manufactured by a Philadelphia artisan. The cases were of such high quality that they actually cost more than the coins enclosed! Perhaps the ornately embossed leather required for the covering added materially to the expense.

At the end of 1834 the State Department extended the Roberts trip to include IndoChina (then called Annam) and Japan. Two additional sets of coins were ordered from Director Moore, but this time the cases were produced within the Mint, perhaps a reaction to the high cost of the first two.

In all, there had been four 1804 dollars struck by official order along with an unknown number of others. Adam Eckfeldt certainly received one (the ultimate destination was the Mint Collection when the chief coiner sold his collection to the government in 1838). As there are eight originals known at present, it is a safe assumption that the three not accounted for above were struck in 1834 or 1835.

Chapter 5: 1804 Novodel Dollars Table of Contents