1794 Experimental Coin Finishes at $840,000 — Doubles Auction Estimate

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1794 DT$1 Dollar, Judd-18, Pollock-27, Unique, VF25 PCGS. Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

After all of these years in operation, it may be hard to imagine the United States Mint ever labeled as a "fledgling entity," but that was certainly the case in 1794 when the first dollar coin was struck.

What would become the prototype for many more silver versions minted since the Mint's humble beginnings commanded $840,000 during an auction presented by Heritage Auctions recently. The coin, often identified as the "No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar," drew intense bidding right out of the gate during the April 23 sale, which saw the coin soar past its low pre-auction estimate of $350,000.

The reverse of the prototype copper dollar coin.

The coin, part of the esteemed collection of Bob R. Simpson, had been off the market for the past two decades before crossing the auction block. According to a press release issued by Heritage Auctions, the rare coin was excavated from the site of the first Philadelphia Mint prior to 1876, based on a report by the coin's first owner submitted when the coin first appeared at an auction back in 1890.

"This coin has traded hands just eight times during the last 230 years," said Jacob Lipson, a numismatist and cataloger at Heritage Auctions. "This is a coin of nearly unsurpassed historical significance."

Such is often the case; the value is in the details of this coin, or rather the missing details. The missing decorative stars, which appear on similar coins stamped later, are key attributes that set this coin apart from others.

For more information about forthcoming coin auctions at Heritage Auctions, visit www.ha.com.

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