US Coins

1804 Draped Bust dollar in Heritage June offering

The Proof 62 Mickley-Hawn-Queller 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar will anchor Heritage’s June 2018 Long Beach Expo auctions.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Heritage will offer one of just 15 known 1804 Draped Bust silver dollars — often called the King of American Coins — at its June 14 Premier Session auction at the June 14 to 16 Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp and Sports Collectible Expo.

The Mickley-Hawn-Queller Specimen is graded Proof 62 by Professional Coin Grading Service and is one of eight Class I “Original” 1804 dollars struck for diplomatic presentation purposes. While Philadelphia Mint records show that 19,570 silver dollars were struck in 1804, these were likely dated 1803 and the production of 1804-dated dollars did not begin until the 1830s.

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The most famous Class 1 1804 dollar was included in the King of Siam Proof set, which contained eight circulating denominations dated 1834 alongside an 1804 dollar and an 1804 Draped Bust gold $10 eagle. While 1804 $10 eagles were struck for circulation, no regular production of 1804 Draped Bust dollar had been struck, and with the production of these special 1804 dollars, a legendary rarity was created.

The notoriety of these 1804 dollars grew over time. The Mint was not opposed to creating rarities to meet collector demand in the 1850s, when around a dozen 1804 dollars were struck for that very purpose. The Philadelphia Mint used the same obverse die as the Class I 1804 dollar and a different reverse die. A sole “Class II” (often called the first restrike, with plain edge) is in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and six Class III (second restrike, lettered edge) dollars are known today.

Heritage writes, “Although the silver dollars and eagles were all struck three decades after the dates shown, they should never be called ‘restrikes’ as the strikes of 1834 were the first from those dies. They should also not be called ‘originals’ as they were not struck in the 1801–1804 time period. The coins are best called novodels, a term most commonly associated with Russian numismatics, meaning coins struck from newly created, back-dated dies.”

Class I 1804 dollars are distinguished by edge lettering that is “crushed,” since the dollars were struck on planchets that had lettered edges and the strike distorted the edge design, making many letters unreadable.

A long ownership history

The offered dollar, from a New York collection, has a pedigree that extends back to coiner Adam Eckfeldt and then Henry C. Young, a teller at the Bank of Pennsylvania via unknown intermediaries. It realized $750 as part of W. Elliot Woodward’s 1867 sale of the Joseph J. Mickley Collection and it would spend decades in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society until it was deaccessioned in 1970 and sold for $77,500 at a Stack’s auction.

Collector Reed Hawn would soon purchase it and keep it for nearly two decades, until he sold it at an October 1993 Stack’s auction for $475,000. It then entered the David Queller Family Collection and sold for $3,737,500 at Heritage’s April 2008 Central States Numismatic Society auction. It would sell five years later at Heritage’s August 2013 American Numismatic Association sale for $3,877,500.

It is the sixth finest of eight known Class 1 1804 dollars, with three of these in museum collections and presumably permanently off the market.

The finest 1804 dollar was first owned by the Sultan of Muscat, who received the coin as part of a diplomatic gift. The PCGS Proof 68 Class 1 1804 dollar failed to meet its reserve when offered at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ May 24, 2016, auction of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, although the auctioneer called out a bid of $9.2 million.

Pogue’s PCGS Proof 65 Class 1 1804 dollar, known as the Dexter Specimen, would sell for $3,290,000 at the Pogue V sale on March 31, 2017. It was purchased by dealers Kevin Lipton and John Albanese and quickly flipped to well-known collector Bruce Morelan.

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After that sale Albanese said, “We purchased this coin on spec and were really quite shocked that our book bid of $2.8 million (plus buyer’s fee) was successful. We both thought it would sell for $4 million or more Friday night. By Sunday, we had six interested parties who were calling, sending emails and texts, wanting to buy the coin from us,” and Lipton added, “we just thought, at $3.3 million, that it was the best buy of a high value rare coin in the last 20-plus years.” 

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