1 Dollar, United States, 1794

1 Dollar, United States, 1794

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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
U.S. Mint. Philadelphia
obverse designer
Scot, Robert
reverse designer
Scot, Robert
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
United States: Pennsylvania
United States
political area
United States
Physical Description
silver (overall material)
overall:.23 cm x 3.88 cm; 3/32 in x 1 17/32 in
ID Number
accession number
collector/donor number
catalog number
Credit Line
Chase Manhattan
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Coins, Currency and Medals
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object