US Coins

Market Analysis: New silver dollar discoveries show what’s out there

Fresh discoveries continue to excite the hobby, as seen in the newly verified 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar recently graded About Uncirculated 55 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and stickered with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. label, a coin that will be a headliner at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 19 Rarities Night auction in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The sale is part of the official American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money auctions, this year held the week after the convention by official co-auctioneers Heritage and Stack’s Bowers in separate sales.

Stack’s Bowers shared, “Discovered in an accumulation by a southern UK dealer over 25 years ago, this piece is a newcomer to the census of known examples.” It was not listed in the 2010 book The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794: An Historical and Population Census Study, where Martin Logies of the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation accounted for a surviving population of 140 to 150 examples in all grades. He cited 136 individual examples, estimating a total population of up to 150 with unaccounted for 1794 dollars.

The issue is wildly popular as the first dollar struck, in low mintage of 1,758 pieces. It is ranked second runner-up in the 2019 edition of 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. The finest-known example sold at a 2013 auction for just over $10 million.

The auctioneer praised the discovery’s smooth fields, which show “subtle flashes of satiny luster,” adding, “This remarkable coin is very well struck and preserved for the issue, with exceptional definition to Liberty’s hair and the stars on the obverse and nearly complete denticulation around both sides.”

Also in June, NGC identified the fifth known example of a 1922 Peace, Modified High Relief dollar, graded About Uncirculated 50. All 1921 Peace dollars were struck in high relief, and plans were for the 1922 coins to carry the same high relief design by sculptor Anthony De Francisci.

However, the beautiful design proved ill-suited to mass production and production of the 1922 Peace, High Relief dollars stopped. George Morgan, chief engraver at the U.S. Mint, experimented with modifications to enhance the die life while retaining the artist’s vision. From these modified dies, Roger Burdette has documented that 3,200 examples were struck, including Proof strikes. Today these Modified High Relief coins are listed as Judd 2020 in United States Pattern Coins.

The currently offered example was spotted by a dealer sorting circulated dollars acquired in bulk. NGC said on the discovery, “Perhaps what is most exciting is that we suspect more of these fascinating coins are waiting to be found. A veritable treasure hunt is underway.”

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