The 1804 Draped Bust dollar has long reigned as “The King of American Coins.” Yet the last time this famous coin set a price record was a generation ago, in 1999. That’s when the finest-known specimen of the 1804 Draped Bust dollar, graded Proof-68 by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), was sold to legendary collector D. Brent Pogue for $4,140,000. This same coin traded hands once more at a Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction on August 17, 2021, for an astounding $7,680,000 to become the second-most valuable silver dollar ever sold and among the world’s most valuable rare coins.
The 1804 Draped Bust dollar claims an indisputable status as one of the most important coins in numismatics. Those who manage to buy a specimen of their own and steward it in their collections even for a short time indelibly become part of a small and unique fraternity of collectors who have owned one of the 15 known examples of this rare treasure. Each of the 15 specimens has its own story, and the narrative for this coin begins in 1835, shortly after it was minted and presented to the Sultan of Muscat as a diplomatic gift.
Later in the 19th century the coin turned up in the cabinet of British collector Charles A. Watters and then in 1917 it went to Philadelphia numismatist Henry Chapman. Just a year later the specimen found a new home in Virgil Brand’s collection. From there, the Sultan of Muscat example began a half-century journey throughout generations of the Charles F. Childs family before it was sold in 1999 to D. Brent Pogue to then claim the title as the world’s most valuable coin at over $4 million.
The last 20-plus years hasn’t always been so easy for the 1804 Draped Bust dollar, as other rare coins have risen to the forefront. The all-time world record set by the 1804 Draped Bust dollar in 1999 was superseded in 2002 by the sale of the only 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 available for private ownership, selling at that time for $7.59 million. In 2013, a 1794 Flowing Hair dollar graded by PCGS as Specimen-66 took more than $10 million. The year 2021 has yielded numerous record prices in the coin industry, including a new all-time record notched by the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, which sold for nearly $19 million in June 2021 and is graded PCGS MS65. Now, the 1804 Draped Bust dollar again sits among the top 5 most valuable coins in the world.
*Image is courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service.