see it clearly
Learn more

The 1804 Dollar

The coin among collectors is known as the "king of American rarities." But seven or eight pieces are known to exist.

Rare early coins of the U.S. mint

The 1804 dollars are of two classes, to wit: first, originals, which are from but one obverse and one reverse die,--draped bust of Liberty facing right; the head bound with a fillet; hair flowing; 6 stars before and 7 behind the bust above LIBERTY, upper right hand star almost touching letter y; reverse heraldic eagle bearing on his breast a broad shield, in his beak a scroll, inscribed E PLURIBUS UNUM; 12 arrows in right talon, a branch of olive in left; above, an are of clouds from wing to wing of eagle; in field beneath 13 stars; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; edge lettered ONE HUNDRED CENTS, ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT, which are lightly struck in some parts.

The first specimen in the Mint Cabinet weights 415.2 grs.; second, Mr. M. A. Stickney procured from the Mint in 1843 in exchange for other coins; third, W. S. Appleton bought, at an advance of $750, in 1868, from E. Cogan, who purchased it from W.A. Lilliendahl, who bought it at a sale of collection of J. J. Mickley, 1867, for $750; fourth, L. G. Parmelee bought, at sale of E. H. Sandford's collection, 1874, for $700, who obtained it in 1868 from an aged lady, who got it at the Mint many years before; fifth, W. B. Wetmore bought of Mr. Parmelee, 1868, for $600, from sale of H. S. Adams' collection, 1876, at $500, from sale of M. J. Cohen's collection, 1875, at $325 (in fair condition); sixth, present owner unknown to us, formerly in possession of collection of Mr. Robert C. Davis, of Philadelphia, and recently sold for $1200; seventh, S. H. and H. Chapman purchased October, 1884, at a sale in Berlin, and resold to a Mr. Scott, a dealer in coins, for $1000 at their Philadelphia sale, in May, 1885.

Restrikes. There were struck at the Mint in 1858 restrikes with plain edges, of which three were recovered after diligent search; two of these were destroyed in the Mint, and the other placed in the Cabinet, where it remains. The difference between these and the originals are as follows: obverse, the original die was re-cut in the word LIBERTY, the stars and date, which made them larger and deeper, especially noticeable in the stars, which are broadened; also in the date, it making the outline sharp and square, whereas in the originals they are somewhat rounded; reverse, not having the original die, they used another, which differs in many respects, most easily noticeable in that the A touches the eagle's claw, the OF much nearer of the end of eagle's wing than S in States (in the original it is equally spaced); edge, plain; weight, 381.5 grains.

One specimen is in the Mint and another in England,--struck between 1860 and 1869, as in the latter year all dies remaining were destroyed, same as the above, but endeavors were made to letter the edges in the absence of a complete collar by using pieces of collars which did not contain all the letters, but repeated some of them several times. There was one of these pieces sold in the Berg collection in 1883 for $740, and showed all the peculiarities mentioned, and its weight was said to be inaccurate. The dies were destroyed in the winter of 1868-69. No counterfeit dies of the 1804 dollar were ever made. After the close of each year all dies are now destroyed.