Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States - A Complete Encyclopedia

Chapter 7: Gobrecht Dollars, Historical Background
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Dollar Coinage Begins
All of the above delayed the start of dollar coinage until some time in December, probably around the middle of the month, (The chief coiner's reports of official deliveries during these years were monthly; there is no way of determining the exact day dates of coinage. In 1837 they went back to daily deliveries for the silver and gold denominations.) Four hundred silver dollars were struck and kept at the 'Mint for individual distribution. Another 600 followed toward the last days of December and went to the Bank of the United States for public distribution.

The original silver dollars of 1836 with name on base all had Proof finish (mirrorlike fields) and required two blows apiece from the dies, as the director wished to show the design' with all details brought up clearly; In this way, the flew coinage would be very impressive both at home and abroad, It was also the first issue of American coinage for circulation in which the entire minting run was in Proof condition.

For many years it was believed generally that the dollars of 1836 with name on base Were patterns struck in anticipation of the law of January 18, 1837, changing the fineness of silver coinage to 900/1000. This is not correct, and the dollars of 1836 were struck strictly according to the law of. April 1792, which mandated a gross weight of 416 grains and fineness of 892.4+/1000;

The Mint report for 1836, finished in early January 1837, has this to say about the silver dollar coinage of that year:

"The coinage of dollars had been intermitted since the year 1805 so that the unit of our currency was rarely to be met with in circulation. At the close of the last year [1836] this coinage was resumed and no pain was spared to make the new coin a more creditable specimen of taste and art than the old ..... " Patterson had reason to be proud of his creation.

Dollar Coinage of 1837
In March 1837 another 600 silver dollars were struck, using the dies dated 1836. These were of 900/1000 fineness as stipulated in a new law passed on January 18, 1837. However:, the weight was reduced to 412.5 grains, which was maintained until the last silver dollar issued to the public was coined in 1935. (The quantity of pure silver in each coin, 371.25 grains, did not change, however.) Director Patterson had lobbied strongly for the change to decimal fineness;

Though the coinage of 1837 used the dies of 1836, Patterson ordered that the 1837 issue be somehow distinguishable from the 1836. From 1793 to the present all U.S. coins, with this one exception, have been intended to be struck in "coin" alignment.
(Exceptions are unauthorized instances in which the dies were loosely fitted in the press and rotated out of alignment, or were mounted in the press incorrectly, and certain pattern coins, for example the 1844 issue of 1836-dated gold dollars, and the 1863 thin planchet bronze cents. Normal coin alignment for U.S. issues has the obverse and reverse 1800 apart, or "coin turn"; medals normally have the obverse and reverse aligned in the same direction, or "medal turn.") If one holds an American coin and turns it end-over-end the reverse design will appear in the correct position. (For Canadian coins starting-in 1908, doing this will cause the design to be 'upside 'down.)

Evidently no reeded collar was ready, so Patterson directed that the 1837 dollar coinage use the "medal" turn. If one holds a specimen of this coin at the rim at the top and bottom and turns it sideways, then the design appears correctly. It is very important to note that when the coins ate properly turned the eagle will be flying "onwards and upwards" Director Patterson had specified to Titian Peale; and the "dots" (encircled pellets) flanking the words "ONE " will be perfectly level arid not skewed. Any specimen of 1836 which deviates from these rules is a restrike made during the late 1850s or later. The wrong reverse, without stars, for 1836 is a later fantasy coin (no originals of this style were ever made).

In the summer of 1837, because the new Liberty Seated] design had been well accepted by all who had seen it, the Treasury agreed with Patterson's suggestion that dimes and half dimes have the same obverse artwork as the dollar. The reverse was to have the denomination and a wreath as stipulated in the 1837 law. Patterson had argued for this provision (through friendly congressmen) in order to make it easier for the engraver to prepare dies for the smaller silver coins.

Chapter 7: Gobrecht Dollars, Historical Background
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Back to All Books