A copper prototype for the first U.S. silver dollar sold at auction Friday for $840,000, according to officials at Heritage Auctions.
Known as the “No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar,” the prototype was struck by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia in 1794, according to the bid listing by the Dallas-based auction house. It was once owned by Bob Simpson, a businessman and co-chairman of the Texas Rangers major league baseball team, according to The Associated Press.
According to Heritage Auctions public relations director Eric Bradley, the coin opened at $312,000 on Friday evening but “in less than a minute,” intense bidding pushed the winning bid to $840,000. The winning bid includes a buyer’s premium.
According to the U.S. Mint, the Coinage Act of 1792 established a national mint located in Philadelphia. Congress chose decimal coinage in parts of 100 and set the U.S. dollar to the Spanish-milled dollar and its fractional parts. During the construction of the Mint in 1792, 1,500 silver half-dimes were coined in the cellar of a nearby building, according to the Mint website.
On March 1, 1793, the Mint delivered the nation’s first coins in circulation: 11,178 copper cents.
The 1794 silver dollar was struck from BB-1 dies, which are now impounded in the National Numismatic Collection.
“Coin collecting lore states the unique rarity was excavated from the site of the first Philadelphia Mint before 1876,” Heritage Auctions spokesperson Jacob Lipson told the AP.
The coin was described as “good for the period” in its first auction appearance in 1890, according to the Heritage Auctions listing. The coin is corroded, with areas of significant roughness at the upper obverse and along the left side of the reverse, according to the listing.
The actual silver dollar was designed and engraved by Robert Scot and had a composition of 89% silver and 11% copper, according to USA Coin Book. A total of 1,758 coins were circulated.
Simpson, 73, purchased the coin in 2008, along with other prototypes, according to the AP.
“I think coins should be appreciated almost as artwork,” Simpson told the AP. “I have gotten more than enough joy from them.”
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