A 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar became the first coin to sell at
public auction above the $10 million barrier.
At auction Jan. 24, 2013, the finest known example of the 1794
dollar sold for $10,016,875. Some experts believe that the coin is the
first U.S. silver dollar struck.
Legend Numismatics, Lincroft, N.J., placed the winning bid during
the Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York Americana Sale. The price
eclipses the $7.59 million paid in the July 30, 2002, single-coin
auction by Sotheby’s, in conjunction with Stack’s, for the purported
King Farouk example of a 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle.
The final price for the 1794 dollar includes a 17.5 percent
buyer’s fee. The buyer’s fee for the 1933 double eagle was 15 percent.
Bidding for the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar reportedly opened at $2.2
million. After bidding reached $5.5 million with increasing bidding
increments, Laura Sperber, a principal of Legend Numismatics and
present in the auction room, raised the hammer price to $8.525 million
in a single increment, knocking out all other bidding competition (and
ensuring that the coin would breach the $10 million level).
“We wanted to make sure we had the coin,” Sperber told Coin
World on Jan. 25.
Adding the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee brought the final price
realized to $10,016,875.
Sperber said Legend, which also includes principal Bruce Morelan,
was willing to go higher with its bidding.
“This coin is a $10 million coin and deserves its place in
numismatic history,” Sperber said. “It’s an iconic coin and what
numismatics is all about — rarity, quality and pedigree.
“It’s the ultimate rare coin.”
Certified as Specimen 66 by Professional Coin Grading Service and
wearing a green sticker from Certified Acceptance Corp., the 1794
Flowing Hair silver dollar was part of the Cardinal Collection. It is
the only 1794 silver dollar with a silver plug, among some 140 to 150
examples of the 1794 dollar known to exist, according to Martin
Logies, who built the collection. Logies is a numismatic researcher,
early dollar specialist and author of The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars
The silver plug was added to the underweight planchet at the U.S.
Mint in Philadelphia to bring the planchet up to standard weight.
In total, 1,758 silver dollars (out of about maybe 2,000 struck),
all struck on a hand-turned screw press at the Philadelphia Mint
facility on Oct. 15, 1794, were delivered after the only day of
production for dollars that year. ■