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Overview: 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar

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The first silver dollars minted under the authority of the United States of America were dated 1794.  Immediately upon the first striking of dollars in 1794, the Mint realized that its equipment was inadequate to strike the new, larger diameter coins with the intended quality.  Only 2000 specimens were originally produced, all from one set of dies, and then mintage was suspended, pending the arrival of better equipment.  Of these, 242 specimens were immediately rejected as being totally unacceptable, leaving only 1,758 specimens to be released for circulation.  The Mint's difficulty in striking these new dollars is evident (at least to some degree) on every known specimen — with the left sides of both the obverse and reverse distinctly more weakly struck than the right sides.  Consequently, the left side of the obverse may display weak definition of the stars and/or date.  Indeed on some specimens, certain of the stars and perhaps one or more of the numerals of the date might be only faintly visible, if visible at all.  The left side of the reverse typically displays weaker definition of the words "UNITED STATES," with the tops of those letters particularly weak.

Examples of common striking weaknesses.

(Coin Certified as
Extremely Fine in grade.)

It is believed that only about 135 specimens of the 1794 dollar still exist today, representing an unusually high proportion of the original mintage.  Due to its status as the very first silver dollar of the United States, the 1794 Dollar is very well known and highly prized by collectors today, as it has been since shortly after its minting.  As a result, 1794 dollars have been salvaged even after significant damage, when other dollars would have simply been melted.  Not surprisingly, therefore, much of the remaining population of 1794 dollars are in very low grade, have suffered all varieties of damage, or exhibit signs of varying types of repairs.  Due to its great demand, even well worn or damaged specimens are valued into the tens of thousands of dollars.  Nonetheless, collectors seeking a full Redbook set of early dollars will need a specimen of this rarity.


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