August 15th, 2013

Big-name coin draws big bidding action at auction

By MintState

Another big-name coin is making headlines after drawing big-time bids at an auction held last week in anticipation of the American Numismatic Association’s annual conference in Chicago.

As part of the pre-convention event hosted by Heritage Auctions, bidders boosted the price of the premier piece for sale, as an 1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar sold for some $3.8 million last Friday. Among the most popular U.S. coins ever produced, the 1804 Silver Dollar is also among the hardest to track down. In all, only 15 of the pieces are known to exist. Though there is some dispute as to the grade of the coin – it was recently assigned a Proof 62 rating by PCGS (a grade it had also received from NGC before being reslabbed) after previously garnering grades in the mid- to high 50s – this version of the famed Silver Dollar proved alluring nonetheless.

In fact, the story behind the 1804 makes for part of the attraction to the coin. Though the piece bears the date “1804,” the silver dollar didn’t actually make its appearance until three decades later. While nearly 20,000 silver dollars were produced in the year of the mint mark, they were struck with dies bearing “1803” as the date. That’s because the U.S. Mint relied on a practice of using outdated, but usable dies at the time. It wasn’t until 1834 that the famed 1804 silver dollars were created, with the original eight intended to serve as gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries from Asia. The remaining seven pieces were believed to come about through the clandestine efforts of Mint workers as late as the 1850s

That sense of rarity and history has made the 1804 Silver Dollar a long-desired coin among numismatic circles, part of the reason why it retained its place among the top draws in the recent auction. Coins in general have been drawing renewed interest of late, as the 1804 Silver Dollar auction marks the latest in a line of sizable auction prices realized. In just the last year, a 1794 Silver Dollar – among the first ever produced in the United States – sold for a record-high auction price for a coin of $10 million. It was joined by an equally famous 1913 Liberty Head “V” Nickel that attracted a winning bid of $3.1 million in April and a 1792 penny that also went for more than $1 million that same month.

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