The first silver dollars-and the first silver half dollars-were delivered on the same day, October 15, 1794. Chief coiner Henry Voigt was responsible for 5,300 half dollars that day, and they apparently went into commerce as soon as they were released.
The dollars were another matter. Precisely 1,758 of them were coined on the fifteenth, and they were immediately delivered to Mint Director David Rittenhouse for distribution to dignitaries as souvenirs.
The VIPs were not impressed with what they saw. The dollars were struck on the largest press the mint possessed, but the machine was originally intended for cents and half dollars. The only way it had proved adequate for striking the copper pattern was by striking the piece twice.
The impressions it gave with a single blow were weak, a situation not helped by the fact that the obverse die was damaged early on and had to be polished down along one part of its circumference. This resulted in its making an even weaker impression. So the new federal dollar was not a brilliant success. But it was a first-and sometimes that's success enough.
Precisely 1,758 of these silver dollars, the first ever minted for circulation by the United States, were coined on October 15, 1794. All were immediately delivered to the Mint Director for distribution to dignitaries as souvenirs. The largest press the mint possessed still was not big enough to give a strong impression with a single blow, hence the weak relief on these coins.
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