As 2020 draws to a close, one of the biggest sales of the year led to one of the largest transactions of the year: the sale of an 1804 Draped Bust dollar graded PR65 by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Upon crossing the block at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries December 2020 Auction, it realized $3,360,000, making it the auction house’s sixth-most expensive coin ever traded and their top coin of the entire year pricewise.
The 1804 Draped Bust dollar is known as “The King of American Coins.” With just 15 known specimens, the 1804 dollar became one of the earliest and most significant major rarities in American numismatics. They were struck for inclusion in mid-1830s proof sets and presented as diplomatic gifts to heads of state overseas. By the mid-1840s, knowledge that the 1804 Draped Bust dollars spread to inquiring numismatists, including Matthew Adams Stickney. On May 9, 1843, he purchased the coin from ex-United States Mint Chief Coiner Adam Eckfeldt. That coin is the one that was just sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries for more than $3.3 million.
The provenance of this specimen is simply amazing… It reads like a “Who’s Who of United States Numismatics.” After Stickney, this 1804 dollar entered the cabinets of Col. James W. Ellsworth, Wayte Raymond, William Cutler Atwater, Louis E. Eliasberg, and Larry H. Miller. Whoever bought this 1804 dollar has guaranteed himself or herself a permanent place in the numismatic canon, their name to be added to the roster of prestigious collectors whose appreciation for the hobby’s rarest and most illustrious treasures will be remembered for time unending. And it’s that mystique, that esteem that comes with acquiring an 1804 Draped Bust dollar that, among its many-splendored other enchanting qualities, ensures this coin will keep its claim at the top echelons of our hobby for generations to come.