Shown below are recent donations of outstanding U.S. rarities. These donations further enhance the quality of the National Numismatic Collection. We are greatly indebted to Willis H. Dupont and the Stacks (Ben, Harvey and Lawrence), whose generosity has made it possible for us to share these rarities.

Note: Click on the image of a coin to get a larger image that includes the obverse and reverse.

The 1804 U.S. Dollar, "The King of American Coins"

The 1804 dollar is among the most coveted U.S. rarities. Strangely enough, none of the 1804 dollars was struck in that year. In 1804 the United States Mint struck only 1803 dollars, and then stopped regular production of silver dollars until 1840. The 1804 dollar actually appeared in the period 1834-35, when the U.S. Department of State decided that a few coins with the unusual date 1804 might make excellent gifts to certain rulers in Asia in exchange for trade advantages. The appearance in 1962 of the set presented to the King of Siam, Rama III, between 1834 and 1836 confirmed this early purpose for the coins. In 1833 the King had signed a treaty of commerce with the United States.

A Dollar in Three "Classes"

The unusual history of the 1804 silver dollar extends to the details of when and how the coins were struck. The specimens struck during the 1830s are considered "originals" and constitute the Class I group--about seven are known. The coin given to the King of Siam comes from this group. Class II contains a single specimen. It was struck about 1858-59 over a Swiss coin, a "shooting taler" of 1857, perhaps as an experiment by employees of the U.S. Mint. Class III was produced in the 1850s at the Mint for collectors when coin collecting became more popular. They were struck in 1858-59 with an original obverse die and a reconstructed reverse die; the edge lettering was added later. About six specimens of these Class III coins survive. This display brings together, for the first time in U.S. numismatic history, examples of the three classes from the same collection--the National Numismatic Collection.

From The Gold Fields Of California

J. O. Ormsby 5 Dollars, 1849 Sacramento, CA

This 5-dollar gold coin was privately struck by Dr. John S. Ormsby and his brother, Maj. William M. Ormsby in 1849, with gold mined in the Sacramento area.

Gift of Harvey and Lawrence Stack, 1993.

Norris, Gregg & Norris 5 Dollars, 1849 Stockton, CA

This 5-dollar gold coin was privately struck by Thomas and Hiram Norris and Charles Gregg in Stockton, California, near San Francisco. The coin remained unknown until 1958.

Gift of Willis H. duPont, 1994.

Unusual Denominations Of U.S. Coins

Pattern Stella, 1879

This is a gilt aluminum trial piece for a Stella, or 4-dollar "goloid" coin (a combination of 6g gold, 3g silver, and 1g copper). The coin was intended to help international trade. "Stella" means "star" in Latin; the coin's name comes from the star on the reverse. The Liberty head with coiled hair was designed by George T. Morgan.

Gift of Harvey & Lawrence Stack,1993.

Early Attempts At A Coinage System

Getz Half-Dollar, 1792

This copper pattern half-dollar, which never circulated, was struck privately by Peter Getz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1792. George Washington refused to have his portrait on the national currency because it had been the practice of royalty.

Gift of Harvey & Lawrence Stack, 1993.

Birch Cent, 1792

One of the earliest coins struck by the Philadelphia Mint, April 1792. This trial piece, which was never circulated, was named after its engraver, Robert Birch.

Gift of Harvey & Lawrence Stack