When the hammer fell on $8,525,000 at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction in New York on January 24, 2013, and with the 17.5% buyer’s premium, collector Bruce Morelan became the owner of the first $10 million coin to sell at auction. His agent, Legend Numismatics, placed the winning bid on the famous 1794 Dollar. The coin was previously purchased by Martin Logies, on behalf of the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation, from Steve Contursi of Rare Con Wholesalers for a then record price of $7,850,000 in 2010.
What makes this coin so valuable is not just its high grade, but its historical significance. The general consensus is that this coin was the first dollar minted by the Philadelphia Mint in 1794. PCGS has assigned it a special "Specimen" grade of SP66. While PCGS does not certify any U.S. coin struck before 1816 as Proof, a few coins have been graded Specimen because of their unique strikes. The 1794 Dollar is no exception. Besides its razor-sharp details, it also exhibits prooflike surfaces.
There are a number of factors that lead experts to believe that this particular dollar is the very first one struck. 1) It is in the exact die state as the copper die trial located in the Smithsonian. 2) It is one of the few examples known that is struck from aligned dies, whereas 1794 Dollars struck after do not have these characteristics. 3) The planchet was polished with wet sand, or burnished, prior to the coin being struck. 4) No other 1794 looks like this example, with its detailed strike and full reflective fields on the obverse and reverse. 5) The coin has been preserved since its strike on October 15, 1794, never having been in a bag or in contact with other coins. 6) The coin has adjustment marks to get it to the proper weight. It was plugged to increase the weight and then filed to the most precise degree. 7) This is the first, and as far as the experts know, the only 1794 Dollar that was plugged at the Mint.
Confirmed Pedigree and History:
- Virgil Brand Collection
- James Kelly’s Fixed Price List #20, 1945
- C. David Pierce
- Art & Paul Kagin
- Will W. Neil Collection
- B. Max Mehl 6/1947:1 - $1,250
- Amon G. Carter Family Collection
- Stack’s 1/1984:207 - $264,000
- Hugh Sconyers for the American Rare Coin Fund Limited Partnership
- Superior 1/1986:1173
- Superior 5/1991:699 - $506,000
- Knoxville Collection sold by private treaty to Jay Parrino
- Steve Contursi acquired via private treaty
- Cardinal Collection acquired via private treaty in May 2010 - $7,850,000
- Stack’s Bowers 1/2013: 13094 - $10,016,875
- Legend Numismatics as agent for Bruce Morelan
The coin is absolutely stunning. A quote from Collectors Universe President and PCGS Co-Founder David Hall says it all: "The first time I saw this particular coin was when we certified it in 2003, it made my heart thump. It’s a gorgeous, historic treasure. Today the Neil-Carter 1794 Silver Dollar is one of the most exciting, beautiful and valuable coins in the world. Over the past 200+ years, it has acquired a lovely gray-gold patina that exhibits multi-colored highlights. The strike is the finest, being razor-sharp in most areas. The surfaces are ’as struck’ with the only imperfections being minor Mint-caused adjustment marks and planchet flaking. The prooflike surfaces and overall eye appeal are legendary qualities that have thrilled numismatists ever since the coin was first offered for viewing."
The 1794 Dollar is the cornerstone of Bruce Morelan’s phenomenal Hall of Fame Bust Dollar set, registered in the PCGS Set Registry®: Early Dollars Basic Set, Circulation Strikes (1794-1803). PCGS is honored and thrilled to be displaying this set along with the 1794 Dollar at the FUN show in Ft. Lauderdale, January 5-8, 2017, and again at the Long Beach Expo, February 16-18, 2017. In the coming weeks, details for both shows will be announced on the PCGS website.