The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a coin is its use as a medium of exchange (or a legal tender). This pretty much sums up coins in a sentence. However, did you know that some exceptionally rare coins were minted to be gifted to early-time overseas rulers? Such is precisely the case with 1804 silver dollars.
With only 15 examples to exist, the 1804 silver dollars make up for one of the most valuable and rarest US-minted coins.
Some examples of the 1804 silver dollar – or, as people say, ‘the King of American Coins’ – are valued at millions, thanks to their exclusivity and rich history. While some examples of the Dollar can be valued between $2m and $4m, in other cases, the examples can be sourced cheaply. In the same way, you can pick up a replica 1804 silver dollar for 15 bucks!
Conclusively, the exact cost of an 1804 silver dollar depends on its type and classes (Class I, Class II, and Class III). For instance, a Class III Draped Bust Silver Dollar was auctioned and sold for $1,880,000.
Meanwhile, a Class I (1) Original Draped 1804 Silver Dollar was sold for an impressive $7.68m. A closer look at the mentioned coin would reveal that the specimen was in possession of the Sultan of Muscat and Oman, Said Bin Sultan (1791 – 1856). So, the 1804 silver dollars and history have a lot in common.
With that said, let’s shed some light on how the 1804 silver dollar came into being and its contribution to history.
1804 Silver Dollar – History
At first glance, one may think that the 1804 silver dollars were minted in 1804, which is a rookie mistake. The 1804 silver dollars were produced in 1834 during the time in the office of the seventh U.S. President, Andrew Jackson.
According to the U.S. Mintage records, a total of 19,570 1804 silver dollar coins were minted; however, only 15 examples can be identified.
Nonetheless, the State requested minting a set of coins to be gifted to the then-Asian rulers in exchange for trade opportunities. Among the beneficiaries of the set of coins were Said Bin Sultan (King of Muscat and Oman) and Phra Khlang (ruler of Siam – modern-day Thailand).
According to sources, the set of coins owned by the King of Siam made its way down certain family generations until it was finally passed down to the Smithsonian Institution in 1983. It was when the coin got its name, ‘the King of American Coins’, and later fell into the possession of a private collector, who purchased the set for a measly $4m.
The coins that the then-Asian rulers received belonged to the Class I group; hence, their ridiculously high valuations. Interestingly enough, the coins were struck later in what people call Class II (2) group. In 1858, restrike versions of the 1804 silver dollar began appearing, bearing the bust of Lady Liberty. Only seven (Draped) 1804 silver dollar examples were ever minted.
The Class II (Draped) 1804 silver dollars were subject to a new die and consisted of bead-less borders to match the latest coin minting requirements. Only five examples of the coins are said to be minted. Meanwhile, the remaining 3 Class II (2) Draped coins were melted.
The table below shows the different nicknames associated with the various classes of 1804 silver dollars:
Nicknames of Known 1804 Silver Dollar Specimens
|Type||Representative obverse||Representative reverse||Specimen nicknames|
|Class I||The obverse of a coin depicts an allegorical woman||The reverse of a coin depicts a heraldic eagle||Mint Cabinet Specimen/U.S. Mint Specimen (Preserved for the U.S. Mint collection and later transferred to the Smithsonian Institution – SOURCE)|
|Stickney Specimen (Owned by Matthew A. Stickey from Salem, Massachusetts. Spent most of its life in possession of the Eliasberg family. Sold at Bowers and Merena’s auction (1997) of the Louis E. Eliasberg Sr Collection selections for $1.8m. PCGS Proof-65 – SOURCE)|
|King of Siam Presentation Specimen or Siam Specimen (Currently part of the King of Siam Proof Set. “Brilliant Gem Proof” Graded PCGS PR-67 – SOURCE)|
|Sultan of Muscat Presentation Specimen or Watters Specimen (Said to have come from the Siam Sultan’s proof set. Graded PCGS Proof-68 – SOURCE)|
|Dexter Specimen (Owned by James V. Dexter, an influential numismatist, for 14 years. The specimen consists of a stamped engraving labeled “D,” signifying the owner’s name initials. PCGS Proof-65 – SOURCE)|
|Parmalee-Reed Specimen (Formerly owned by Byron Reed. Currently in the custody of the Durham Western Heritage Museum of Omaha, ICG Proof-64 – SOURCE)|
|Mickley Specimen (Owned by Joseph J. Mickley at an auction (byHeritage Auction Galleries) for $3,725,000. May 2008, the specimen is part of the Queller Family Collection. PCGS Proof-62 – SOURCE)|
|Cohen Specimen (Subject to robbery in 1967 from the possession of Willis DuPont. Currently in display at the American Numismatic Association Museum, Colorado Springs. Proof 30– SOURCE)|
|Class II||The obverse of a coin depicts an allegorical woman||The reverse of a coin depicts a heraldic eagle||Mint Cabinet Specimen or U.S. Mint Specimen|
|Class III||The obverse of a coin depicts an allegorical woman||The reverse of a coin depicts a heraldic eagle||Berg Specimen|
|Dreyfus–Rosenthal Specimen or Rosenthal Specimen|
|SOURCE 1, SOURCE 2|
With that said, the 1804 silver dollar wasn’t done being restrike when in the late 1870s, the coins were subject to another restrike. The ‘restrike’ or ‘the Class III’ consisted of added letterings and were reversed from a different die to the die used in the other two classes.
The class I (or original) 1804 silver dollars can be seen embedding the words “STATES” and “OF” spaced closer as compared to the writings found on the class III coins. Moreover, class II coins pack a relatively smoother and plain edge (with no lettering). Meanwhile, class III coins feature lettered edges.
Cut short, only 6 – 7 cases of class III (Draped) 1804 silver dollars are accounted for. Also, according to the USA Coin Book, an 1804 Class III (Draped) silver dollar is worth a whopping $2,249,605!
The table below shows the value of an 1804 silver dollar over time:
|Value Over Time|
1804 Silver Dollar Fake Vs Real
Thanks to its incredible exclusivity, it has become rare to see an 1804 silver dollar (original or otherwise, re-cast) exchanging hands. With only 15 – 19 ever existing, the chances of you owning one or the chances of a specimen going for sale are next to none.
Therefore, it’s common for counterfeits and ‘master copies’ of (Draped) 1804 silver dollars to exist. These counterfeits can be sourced from sites such as eBay for under $20, while in other cases, better versions can be bought for under $1,000.
Nevertheless, you may differentiate a counterfeit from an original/authentic (Draped) 1804 silver dollar through the following measures. The most common way to tell apart a counterfeit 1804 silver dollar is by referring to their Grades and Certifications.
For instance, most (original) 1804 draped silver dollars are graded by third-party coin-grading companies, such as Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Independent Coin Graders (ICG), and ANACS. Therefore, keep a close eye for graded certifications and engravings to find the true worth of an 1804 silver dollar.
Secondly, look out for subtle signs and abnormalities within the coin. For instance, a wrong font used, poor letter positioning, dull/washed-out surfaces, irregular patterns, and other unnatural appearances on the coin’s surface are all signs giving away a bogus 1804 silver dollar.
Meanwhile, in other cases, you may also use the weight to measure the coin’s authenticity. All 15 examples of the coin are accounted for on the internet, along with their weight figures. You may use the internet to countercheck the weight of an original 1804 silver dollar against a phony one.
The 1804 silver dollar is subject to several theories, speculations, and myths. The U.S. Mintage states that 90,000 plus examples of 1804 silver dollars were minted during the 1800s. However, one may rightfully ask how only 15 of such examples were ever accounted for.
While some legends and myths state that the coins were lost to Barbary pirates as the coins made their way through the sea to China. Meanwhile, other sources state that the coins were lost in transport when the ship sank on its way to France. Moreover, other sources state that the coins melted due to the coin’s bullion value exceeding its face value.
Melted or not, plundered by Barbary pirates or not, the history of the 1804 silver dollar remains quite an interesting story. With each (sets of) coin(s) having a different story to tell, deciding whether its sky-rocketing price is justified remains up to you.
How much is an 1804 silver dollar worth?
Thanks to its ridiculously high exclusivity, an (original) 1804 silver dollar can cost anywhere between $2m and $4m. Moreover, the exact cost may differ depending on the type or class of the 1804 silver dollar. For instance, a class I (1) or original 1804 silver dollar will cost you more than a class II or class III 1804 silver dollar coin.
In fact, the most expensive (Draped) 1804 silver dollar was auctioned and sold for $7.68m, becoming the second-most valuable U.S. Dollar ever sold.
How many 1804 silver dollars exist?
Even though the U.S. Mint shows a record of minting a total of 19,570 1804 silver dollars, only 15 of those coins are ever accounted for. What’s more strange is that the coins weren’t minted in 1804. Instead, the coins were minted in 1934, during the office of the seventh American President, Andrew Jackson.
How do you differentiate between a fake and an authentic 1804 silver dollar?
In case you don’t have a trained eye to look out for authentic coins, there are several ways to differentiate a fake 1804 silver dollar from a fake one. The best, most straightforward measure is to check the coin’s grade. All original and most re-cast versions of the 1804 silver dollars are attested and graded by independent, third-party coin-grading companies, such as PCGS, ICG, ANACS, and NGC.
Similarly, look for abnormalities/unusual patterns on the coin’s surface. For instance, wrong fonts, rough edges, improperly positioned patterns and letters, and dull surfaces, are all fingers pointing to a fake 1804 silver dollar.