1 Dollar, United States, 1804 (Class One)

1 Dollar, United States, 1804 (Class One)

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The early dollars from the United States Mint were not instantly embraced by the public, which had become accustomed to the dollar's predecessor, the Spanish-American Piece of Eight. That coin contained slightly more silver than its new competitor.
Then some entrepreneurs made an interesting discovery. They could buy American dollars, send them to the West Indies, and exchange them there at par for Spanish-American Pieces of Eight. Then they could bring the pesos home, turn them in to the Mint for melting, and make a profit by getting paid back in shiny new dollars.
When the scheme was uncovered, it resulted in a thirty-year halt in dollar production, beginning in 1805. Some 19,570 dollars were coined in 1804, before the halt began. Interestingly, they weren't dated 1804, but 1803, thus avoiding the production of new dies. Although a common, cost-cutting policy at the early United States Mint, this act led to confusion years later, and to three legendary coins included in this exhibition.
By the 1830s, American officials were actively exploring commercial opportunities elsewhere in the world. Seeking to influence foreign dignitaries, the Jackson administration instructed the Mint to create complete sets of specimen coins as gifts.
The Philadelphia coiners did so for most other denominations without difficulty. But what to do about the silver dollar? They knew that 1804 dollars had been struck, but there didn't seem to be any survivors. So in November 1834, they created eight new 1804-dated dollars for the gift sets (later termed "class one" 1804 dollars).
One of the eight became part of the set given to the Imam of Muscat, and another was sent to the King of Siam. And the other six? Within a few years, they escaped into private hands or entered circulation. And they became numismatic legends very quickly, for they had it all: mystery, intrigue, and tremendous rarity.
Object Name
date made
U.S. Mint. Philadelphia
place made
United States
Physical Description
silver (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall:.3 cm x 4 cm; 1/8 in x 1 9/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Mint
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Coins, Currency and Medals
The Value of Money
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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"Interesante Moneda el dólar 1804 con una gran historia, conozco una moneda de este año, pero tiene algunas diferencias, una de ellas es que está reacuñada con la imagen del busto en donde estuvo el águila... debe de ser falsa... es una lástima... que tengan un excelente día... Gracias."

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