Prototype of the first U.S. dollar coin can sell for $ 500,000 at auction
A piece of copper that was struck by the US Mint in Philadelphia in 1794 and which was a prototype for the fledgling nation’s silver will be auctioned on Friday.
Texas Rangers businessman and co-chair Bob Simpson is the owner of the item, known as “No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar.”
Although it closely resembles the silver dollars that were later minted in Philadelphia, it gets its name from the fact that it does not have a star.
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“While the following star-struck dollar coins were added to the front of the coin, the starless coins are viewed by collectors and institutions as unique prototypes for the silver examples that would follow,” said Jacob Lipson of Heritage Auctions.
Heritage Auctions estimates the prototype will sell for between $ 350,000 and $ 500,000 when it goes live in Dallas on Friday.
Known as the motif, the front features the flowing hair portrait of Liberty and the date 1794, while the reverse shows a small eagle on a rock in a crown. Similar examples without stars are in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” said California-based numismatist David McCarthy. “This gives us a glimpse into what was going on inside the Mint in 1794, as it prepared to earn the first dollars ever minted.”
The pattern was forgotten as the Mint continued the process of creating the country’s first silver dollars.
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“The tradition of coin collecting indicates that the unique rarity was mined from the site of the first Philadelphia Mint before 1876,” said Lipson. This is how the coin’s first owner described its history when it first appeared at auction in 1890.
The pattern is corroded and is not in perfect condition, said Lipson, likely because it was buried at the original Mint site. There are scratches and other marks on its brown surfaces.
He traded hands eight times, according to the auction house.
Simpson, 73, bought it along with other models in 2008 to add it to his large collection. He sees himself as a steward and thinks it is time for someone else to take advantage of it.
“I think the pieces should be appreciated almost like works of art,” he said. “I had more than enough joy from them.”
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Simpson said he wasn’t rich when he started collecting. As a child he said he would go to a bank, get a roll of coins and examine them. It was part of the fun he said he had in this country.
“America is the only place where I think you can go from near poverty to wealth based on education,” he said.