Why were 1801-2-3-4 Novodels Made? This question is now posed: Why were the 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804 novodels made? I include the 1801-2-3 dates, in addition to 1804, as the obverse dies for each were in existence by autumn 1834, and at least the 1804 obverse in combination with Reverse X had actually been used for coinage by that time.
Silver dollar mintage anticipated in 1831: Inas-much as the coins display Proof surface, this indicates that they were made for display or numismatic purposes. Up to that time (1834) it had not been the practice to strike Proof coins for use in circulation. In my opinion, the answer lies in what R.W. Julian has stated in Chapter 5:
On April 13, 1831, Mint Director Samuel Moore, in office since the death of his predecessor Robert Patterson in 1824, wrote Treasury Secretary S.D. Ingham that the Mint had actually received for deposit a large parcel of Spanish dollars that had originated in Canton. Moore had made inquiries and found that this was not the first occasion of silver being shipped to America from the Orient.
In view of this change in commercial practice, 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.
The hubs and implements already existed for Draped Bust obverse, Heraldic Eagle reverse dollars. The design, however, was obsolete and had not been used on any American coinage after the passing of the 1808 half cent (on silver coinage, the final use was the 1807 dime, quarter, and half dollar). Consulting Mint production records, Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt learned that the final years in which silver dollars of that design had been made, starting with the latest, were 1804, 1803, and 1802. He had no way of knowing, nor did anyone at the Mint remember, than the dollars struck in 1804 were not dated 1804.
Dies on hand at the Mint in 1831: Two reverse dies (designated by Eric P. Newman and Kenneth E. Bressett as X and Y, as earlier noted) were prepared, and three obverses. The latter were made in this order: 1802-1803 from a perfect Draped Bust punch, and 1804 from a broken punch. It is possible that another obverse was made, but with just the bust of Miss Liberty, without surrounding stars, letters, or date. Per this scenario, on hand in the Coining Department at the Mint in 1831 were the following dies:
Incomplete Draped Bust obverse.
1802 Draped Bust obverse.
1803 Draped Bust obverse.
1804 Draped Bust obverse .
Heraldic Eagle reverse "X"
Heraldic Eagle reverse "Y"
As we know that as of autumn 1834, no 1802 or 1803 Proof dollars had been struck, the only logical assumption is that any dollars minted from 1831 to 1834 had to have borne the date 1804. If Chief Coiner Eckfeldt was called upon to make just a few strikings of a new silver dollar for display, or for use with congressmen, he may have considered it appropriate to select the most recent date, 1804. The 1802 and 1803 dies were left unused, and, as R.W. Julian has stated, the die that was later to become the 1801, by this time had no date, stars, or lettering-it containedonly an impression of the Draped Bust motif. It is also possible that the 1802 and 1803 dies had not yet received their dates (Possibility suggested by Harry E. Salyards, M.D., letter to the author, January 15, 1993.)
As of 1834, there was no special numismatic value attached to an 1804 silver dollar. Coin collecting was in its infancy,' and what few numismatists there were, contented themselves with acquiring as many different dates of cents, dollars, or whatever, as they could find. There were no published lists of what United States coin dates were struck, and their values. No collector had an 1804 in is cabinet, but this does not mean that the 1804 was missed.
1804-dated dollars struck: In the meantime, as has been related in Chapter 5 by RW. Julian, and elsewhere by others, including Newman and Bressett in their 1962.book, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, a call came in 1834 for two display sets of United States coinage, and in 1835 for two more. It is known that the 1835 sets contained Proof 1804 dated dollars from the novodel obverse and Reverse X, and it is believed, that the 1835 sets, now untraced, did as well. By autumn 1834, the 1804 dollar obverse die and its companion reverse die had already been used for coinage, as evidenced by the Mint Collection specimen of the 1804 dollar, furnished by Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt, which is of a slightly later die state-than the King of Siam) coin (as evidenced by a shorter die break on the obverse).
Presumably; had anyone applied to Eckfeldt for a specimen silver dollar at any time between 1831 and 18341 one would have been provided for face-value, possibly plus a small preparation Charge. The Mint was very accommodating in such matters. It is a well known story that in 1827, Joseph J. Mickley received at face value from the Mint four Proof quarters of that year.
Robert Gilmor, Jr., a Baltimore collector who had one of America's finest cabinets and who numbered among his possessions a 1787 Brasher gold doubloon, wrote the following to Roberts Poinsett (who was contemplating the founding of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, such to include a coin collection) on Apri1 14, 1841:
The Mint has aided-me considerably, and has even provided desiderata from the old dies, when I require it-Mr. Eckfeldt of the Mint has been of great service to me, and-was stimulated by my attempt to commence one for the Mint itself which really ought not to be without a specimen of every one of the coins by timely attention to the subject whoever has charge of the department may soon make a considerable advance towards obtaining those in circulation, but no time should be lost, as the old gold coin is gradually disappearing by being coined into the new. The Mint would no. doubt aid you in this, and coin your deficiencies.
Possibly, the Mint would, have coined an 1804 dollar for Gilmer, had he requested one, but, there is no record of such a request having been made. Certainly, Eckfeldt seemed to be quite agreeable On such matters.
In June 1838, Adam Eckfeldt established the Mint Cabinet, aided by a modest appropriation from Congress. The action could have been at the suggestion of Gilmor; but probably not specifically, as Eckfeldt had maintained an interest in numismatics for many years previous. He transferred to the Cabinet a collection of United States coins he had formed by Sewing specimens as they were struck, and from pieces extracted from bullion deposits made at the Mint, which had been continuous ever since the Mint first started striking silver coins in 1794. After the Act of June 28, 1834, lowering the weight of gold coins, countless examples of heavier "old tenor" gold issues came to the Mint for melting; Gilmor made a reference to this in the 1841, quotation above.