The first dollar coin that the US Mint struck in 1794 sold for $840,000 at Heritage on Friday, April 23, 2021. This coin was an experiment in copper that would become the pattern for the silver versions that were minted later. Referred to as the “No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar,” it opened at $312,000 and in less than a minute it was already over the expectations.
For the last 20 years, the 230-year-old dollar was off the market, and since 2008 it was in the collection of Bob R. Simpson. He has been selling pieces from his collection through Heritage, which have totaled over $54 million so far.
The coin had been excavated from the first Philadelphia Mint before 1876, and according to the coin’s first owner, it was first offered at auction in 1890. “This coin has traded hands just eight times during the last 230 years,” said Jacob Lipson, a numismatist and cataloger at Heritage Auctions. “This is a coin of nearly unsurpassed historical significance.”
The coin features the Flowing Hair portrait with “Liberty” above and the date of 1794 below. The reverse side has a small eagle standing on a rock with “United States of America” around the border. This copper piece differs from the silver version in a few ways, including that it is missing the decorative stars on the coins that were stamped later.
“It’s all in the stars,” Lipson said. “Similar ‘starless coins,’ such as a copper half dime, are held in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection and this copper dollar is considered the companion piece to the half dime.”