Coin Lore column from Jan. 18, 2016, issue of Coin World:
Those 1804 silver dollars keep turning up all over the place.
While U.S. Mint
records show 19,570 Draped Bust dollars were struck in 1804, only 15
coins are known with that date, all struck decades later either for
friends of Mint officials or foreign diplomats.
The 19,570 dollars listed in Mint records, if they were actually
minted in 1804, were likely struck with 1803-dated dies.
Additional finds of “genuine” 1804 dollars continue to be reported,
though. Here are a few of the more amusing ones.
➤ Aug. 1, 1895, Hartford (Conn.) Weekly Times: Tramp
Charles Schultz steals an 1804 dollar from Felix Schultz, who
befriended him, and sells it to Scott Stamp and Coin Co. for $90.
Scott Co. says it doesn’t know anything about it.
➤ Dec. 25, 1897, The Reading (Pa.) Eagle: Chateau,
Mont., bartender Billy Seymour receives one in change. The paper
reports, “Whence the dollar came, Mr. Seymour does not know, but each
one of several enthusiastic fellow-townsmen is willing to swear that
it belonged to him and was passed by mistake as he well knew that it
was valuable. ...”
➤ Oct. 25, 1899, Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal: A
Racine, Wis., woman pays for fabric or thread with a well-worn 1804
dollar that the clerk pockets, replacing it with another dollar from
his own pocket. “We are told,” the paper reports, “he has since been
offered $1,500 for it by a Chicago coin dealer.” The storeowner, in
the meantime, maintained the coin was his and not the clerk’s and
hired a lawyer.
➤ June 21, 1912, The (Pittsburgh) Gazette Times: “A
worn silver dollar dated 1804, which Joseph Ralston of Defiance, O.,
bought from $50 from a tramp nearly a score of years ago, may give
Mrs. Ralston, his widow, comfort in her declining years.”
“Treasury officials, who tested the coin ... said they believe it
was a genuine 1804 dollar, appraised by coin collectors at $2,800.”
➤ Jan. 1, 1914, Meriden (Conn.) Weekly Republican:
Laborer William Sullivan, excavating a site for an ice rink for the
Yale hockey team “turned over with his shovel an old jar.” Also in the
jar, reportedly, was an 1804 silver dollar “understood to be quoted at
➤ April 5, 1924, Gridley (Calif.) Herald Twice-A-Week:
Merchant Martin Hettinger of Lancaster, Ohio, says he received an 1804
silver dollar from Col. William Stevenson, who asked that he not
dispose of it. The coin is reportedly valued at $8,000 to $12,000.
So keep your eyes open when you check your change, take in a tramp
or get a gift from a relative — you, too, just might find an 1804