US Coins

Market Analysis: Panacea stamp on a 1795 dollar

This 1795 Flowing Hair dollar is unique in hosting the bold, loaf-shaped mark of Baltimore’s Houck’s Panacea; the early silver dollar sold for $9,600.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Merchant counterstamps are a snapshot into another era, as seen on a 1795 Flowing Hair dollar carrying what is described as “Jacob Houck’s famous, loaf-shaped depression with raised letters.” More than 125 examples of the Houck counterstamp are known, with most on Capped Bust half dollars, but this is the sole example known on a Flowing Hair dollar. It sold for $9,600 in a Jan. 3 online session showcasing a specialized collecting interest of Donald G. Partrick's.

The Houck’s purported cure-all, introduced in Baltimore in 1834, was advertised as a “vegetable-based” concoction and originally sold for $1.60 a bottle. As counterstamps go, the Houck’s Panacea mark is relatively common, though this one is unusually bold. It is illustrated in the guidebook to this collecting area, Gregory Brunk’s book Merchant and Privately Countermarked Coins, Advertising on the World’s Smallest Billboards, where it is cataloged as Brunk H-779. The host coin, representing the Bowers-Borckardt 18 variety, is graded Very Fine by Heritage, who grades the counterstamp Extremely Fine.

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