The United States Mint produced its first silver dollars in 1794, just a year after the release of the first mass-circulation copper coinage of 1793 in the form of half cents and large cents. The first silver dollars carry Robert Scot’s Flowing Hair design, which was seen on the coin through 1795 and created a very popular short-run type coveted by collectors today. The first Flowing Hair dollars of 1794 are particularly sought after, as they represent the beginning of official production for the nation’s unitary currency in the form of the dollar.
In every sense of the word, the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar is a rare coin. Only 1,758 were struck and just 150 may survive, according to estimates by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS SP66). Despite those tiny numbers, a few are known in superior uncirculated grades. The most valuable of these is led by an example graded PCGS SP66, which sold in 2013 for more than $10 million. However, that piece stands in a class by itself, having been struck not only with great care but also exhibiting surfaces indicative of it being a special presentation strike and, quite plausibly, the very first 1794 dollar ever produced.
Among business-strike 1794 Flowing Hair dollars, there are about a half dozen that remain in uncirculated condition. And the finest of these is graded PCGS MS66+ and offers an outstanding provenance. It was once in the William Strickland Collection before spending generations in the Roland Winn/Baron St. Oswald family. From there it spent time in many illustrious cabinets, including those of Jacques C. Ostheimer, Clark E. Gilhousen, Jimmy Hayes, D. Brent Pogue. In 2015, the coin realized $4,993,750 when legendary collector Bob R. Simpson purchased it. In August 18, 2021, the coin crossed the block again in a major Heritage Auctions offering, where it realized $6,600,000.
*Images are courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com.