1804 dollar

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United States
Value 1.00 U.S. dollar
Mass Class I - 26.96 g (0.867 ozt)
Class II - 24.711 g (0.794 ozt) [1]
Class III - 27.15-27.41 g (0.872-0.881 troy oz)
Diameter 39-40 mm (1.53-1.57 in)
Thickness ? mm
Class II - Plain
Composition 90.0% Ag
10.0% Cu
Years of minting Class I - 1834
Class II, Class III - 1858-1860
1804 dollar obverse.PNG
Design Bust of Liberty facing right
Designer Robert Scot
Design date 1804
1804 dollar reverse.PNG
Design Heraldic representation of the Great Seal of the United States with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the rim
Designer Robert Scot

The 1804 dollar or Bowed Liberty dollar is an extremely rare United States coin with very limited production in the 1830s and 1860s, long after its face date. As there are only a total of fifteen genuine 1804 Silver Dollars known, it is not too difficult to determine which can be considered to be the finest known.[2] Eight comprise Class I, which were minted in 1834. Two Class I specimens trace their lineage to the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat. One comprises Class II and six comprise Class III and were minted sometime between 1858 to 1860. Both Class II and Class III specimens were likely made clandestinely by Mint officials. Due to the nature of their rarity, some have been sold for high dollar figures. Replicas and counterfeits exist, some meant to deceive collectors, while others are made to offer a cheap substitute for the real and more expensive coins.

Class I[edit]


In 1804, United States Mint records indicate that 19,750 silver dollars were struck. However, in keeping with common Mint practice at the time, these were all minted from old but still-usable dies dated 1803, and are indistinguishable from the coins produced the previous year.[3][4] Silver dollars dated 1804 did not appear until 1834, when the U.S. Department of State was creating sets of coins to present as gifts to certain rulers in Asia in exchange for trade advantages. The U.S. Government ordered the Mint to produce "two specimens of each kind now in use, whether of gold, silver or copper". Since the silver dollar was still in use, but had last been recorded as produced in 1804, Mint employees struck several dollars with an 1804 date. Due to the cost-cutting measures of the US Mint in its early history and the reuse of 1803 dies, this act led to confusion.[3][4]

The first 1804 silver dollars minted in 1834 were presented as gifts to Rama III, King of Siam and Said bin Sultan, Sultan of Muscat and Oman. The other five were dispersed under unknown circumstances after Ambassador-at-Large Edmund Roberts died en route during the voyage. One was retained in the US Mint Coin Collection. In 1842, numismatists first learned of the 1804 dollar through a book displaying an illustration of the 1804 dollar from the Mint Cabinet.[5] These silver dollars are known among numismatists as “original” or Class I 1804 dollars. Eight of these coins are known to exist. One currently resides in the Smithsonian Institution, one is in the American Numismatic Association museum, and the other six are in private collections.

Popular legend states that the rare coin given by King Rama IV of Siam to Anna Leonowens, as seen in the story of Anna and the King of Siam and the movie The King and I, was indeed the same 1804 silver dollar produced in 1834 as a gift to Siam. This coin was kept in Anna’s family for several generations, until in the 1950s it was sold by a pair of British ladies claiming to be Anna’s descendants. This coin was displayed as part of the “King of Siam” collection at the Smithsonian Institution in 1983, where it was given the name “the King of Coins.” It was purchased by an anonymous collector in 2001, who purchased the entire set of coins from the King of Siam collection for over $4 million.

Class I Specimens
Image Name Provenance/Notes
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - US Mint Specimen.jpg U.S. Mint Specimen Retained for the US Mint collection; transferred to the Smithsonian Institution as a part of the National Coin Collection.
Stickney - Eliasberg Specimen
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - Cohen-ANA Specimen.jpg Cohen - ANA Specimen Stolen in 1967 from Willis DuPont; recovered in 1993. Currently displayed at the American Numismatic Association Museum in Colorado Springs.
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - Mickley-Reed Hawn Specimen.jpg Mickley - Reed Hawn Specimen Obtained by Joseph J. Mickley. Sold at auction for $3,725,000 by Heritage Auction Galleries, May 2008, as part of the Queller Family Collection[6]
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - Parmalee-Reed Specimen.jpg Parmelee - Byron Reed Specimen Once owned by Byron Reed; now in the custody of the Durham Western Heritage Museum of Omaha. ICG Proof-64.
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - Dexter - Dunham Specimen.jpg Dexter Specimen
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - Watters-Childs Specimen.jpg Watters-Childs Specimen Believed to have come from the Sultan of Muscat's proof set. Graded PCGS Proof-68.
1804 Silver Dollar - Class I - King of Siam Specimen.jpg King of Siam Specimen Part of the King of Siam Proof Set; "Brilliant Gem Proof" Graded PCGS PR-67.

Class II[edit]


Between 1858 and 1860, a small number of 1804 silver dollars were illegally struck by Theodore Eckfeldt, a mint employee, and sold to coin collectors through a store in Philadelphia. Eckfeldt improvised two parts of the minting process; he struck the 1804 dies into another coin and used an approximate reverse die which positioned the lettering and clouds slightly differently from the Class I and Class III specimens.[1] The number of coins minted is believed to be between ten and fifteen, struck with two separate coin dies, known to numismatists as "Class II." The illegally minted coins were tracked down, seized, and destroyed[7] by officials of the Mint. Today, only one Class II coin exists, residing at the Smithsonian Institution. It is alleged that it has been struck over a modified Swiss Shooting Thaler issued for the Shooting Festival in Bern dated 1857.[1]

Class II Specimen
Image Name Provenance/Notes
1804 Silver Dollar - Class II - US Mint Specimen.jpg U.S. Mint Specimen; a.k.a. "Shooting Thaler" Silver Dollar Specimen was retained for the US Mint collection after seizure of other specimens minted illegally. Now part of the National Coin Collection held by the Smithsonian Institution.

Class III[edit]


The Class III specimens were produced sometime between 1858 and 1860, also made by Theodore Eckfeldt. Although similar to the Class I coins, there are differences. There are seven known Class III specimens, which can be distinguished from Class I pieces by their reverse design, lettered edge found on Class I, and weak design.[8] The die from which the Class III specimens were made was seized by Mint Director James Ross Snowden in 1860, but by this time several were in collectors' hands.

Class III Specimens
Image Name Provenance/Notes
Berg - Garrett Specimen
1804 Silver Dollar - Class III - Adams-Carter-Flanagan Specimen.jpg Adams - Carter Specimen Sold at auction for $2.3 million by Heritage Auction Galleries, April 2009[9]
Davis - Wolfson Specimen
1804 Silver Dollar - Class III - Linderman-DuPont Specimen.jpg Linderman - DuPont Specimen On display at the headquarters of the American Numismatic Association.
Rosenthal - ANS Specimen On display at the headquarters of the American Numismatic Society.
1804 Silver Dollar - Class III - Idler Specimen.jpg Idler - Bebee Specimen Displayed at American Numismatic Association headquarters.

Counterfeits and replicas[edit]

Counterfeits of the 1804 silver dollar are fairly common.[10] Some were brought back by service personnel returning from the Vietnam War.[11]

Various private mints have produced replicas of the 1804 dollar over the years. The replicas have little worth as collectors’ items, with their silver content fetching them a price of current melt values and some collectible value as silver rounds.[12]

King of Siam proof set[edit]

The 1804 $1 Class 1 was authenticated, graded and certified by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) in June 2004, as PCGS PR 67. It was included in the King of Siam proof set minted sometime in late 1834 at the behest of Edmund Roberts. In 1835, Dr. W. S. W. Ruschenberger returned aboard the U.S. Sloop-of-war Peacock, arriving in Siam in the spring of 1836[13] for exchange of ratifications for the Siamese-American treaty negotiated by Roberts in 1833.[14] November 1, 2005, the set was sold to Steven L. Contursi, President of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, California, for a record price of $8.5 million. The presentation case of yellow leather and blue velvet, and all the coins, except for the half dime and Jackson medal, were also certified as original. Included in the sale was the ship's original log from the voyage of the Peacock in 1835.[15]


  1. ^ a b c "United States, 1 Dollar, 1804 (Class Two)". Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  2. ^ Torbert, Michael. "1804 Silver Dollar". Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  3. ^ a b Mark Ferguson (March 17, 1997). "1804 Dollar Mystery Solved!... Why and When Were These Coins Minted? What Happened to the 19,570 Silver Dollars Officially Minted in 1804?". Archived from the original. Reliance Numismatic Services. Retrieved 2008-05-28
  4. ^ a b Professional Coin Grading Service. "Recommendations for Collecting - PCGS Coin Guide". Collectors Universe, Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  5. ^ Professional Coin Grading Service. "Recommendations for Collecting - PCGS Coin Guide". Collectors Universe, Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  6. ^ Mark Borckardt (April 17, 2008). "Mickley Queller 1804 $1 Auction Description plus Video". Heritage Auction Galleries. 
  7. ^ "The Elusive 1804 U.S. Silver Dollar". Gold & Diamond. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "NMAH United States, 1 Dollar, 1804 (Class Three)". Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  9. ^ Mark Borckardt (April 29, 2009). "Adams Carter 1804 $1 Auction Description plus Video". Heritage Auction Galleries. 
  10. ^ Ganz, David L. (2008). Guide to Coin Collecting. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061341403. 
  11. ^ Reid Goldsborough. "Counterfeit Draped Bust Dollars". Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  12. ^ Reid Goldsborough. "Draped Bust Dollar Replicas". Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  13. ^ Stephen B. Young (2003). "Book review" (Journal of the Siam Society, Volume 91). Two Yankee Diplomats In 1830’s Siam by Edmund Roberts and W. S. W. Ruschenberger. Edited with an introduction by Michael Smithies. Orchid Press. Retrieved March 2, 2012. Also of some relevance for future Thai foreign policy are the various comments by Roberts and Ruschenberger as to how the Siamese seemed genuinely to like Americans and to prefer them over other Caucasian nations. 
  14. ^ Malloy, William M. (March 7, 2008) [1904]. "Siam.". Compilation of Treaties in Force. Washington: Govt. print. off. p. 703. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 1833. Convention of amity and commerce. concluded March 30, 1833; ratification advised by the Senate June 30, 1834; ratified by the President; exchanged April 14, 1836; proclaimed June 24, 1837. (Treaties and conventions, 1889. p. 992.) 
  15. ^ "The King of Siam Proof Set". Rare Coin Wholesalers. April 2, 2012. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012. Archived by WebCite® 

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