1804 dollars deserve headlines every time they come to auction. Heritage is proud to feature the Mickley-Hawn-Queller specimen, a Class I “Original”, as one of the offerings in the June 14-17 Long Beach Signature Auction. This coin will cross the block as a part of the Premier session, scheduled for the evening of Thursday, June 14.
For more than a century, the 1804 dollar has reigned as the “King” of U.S. coinage, a fitting title to bestow on a coin made for royalty. The U.S. Mint received orders to strike complete sets of proof coinage meant to serve as diplomatic gifts for sovereigns such as the Sultan of Muscat, the King of Siam, and the Emperors of Cochin-China and Japan. While most denominations specified by the Mint Act of 1792 were still in production in 1834 and thus simple to produce as proofs, the silver dollar and gold ten dollar (eagle) had not been struck for many years — since 1804, the Mint’s research found. There was just one catch: those silver dollars struck in 1804 were made from carryover obverse dies and did not bear that date. When the Mint struck those silver dollars dated 1804 and a few spares, an inadvertent rarity was created.
Matthew Stickney became the first confirmed non-royal, non-government-employee owner of an 1804 dollar in 1843, when he traded a gold Immune Columbia piece — a remarkable numismatic delicacy — as well as other coins to the Mint Cabinet to get his example. The second confirmed piece to come into a collector’s hands was this very coin, which had come into the possession of bank teller Henry C. Young in October of 1847 and was sold to now-legendary numismatist Joseph J. Mickley the same day.
After the Civil War, the market for the various 1804 dollars blossomed. The Mickley specimen offered here sold at a W. Elliot Woodward sale for $750 in October 1867, while the Chapman brothers cracked the four-figure mark and coined the phrase “King of the U.S. series” in May 1885 when they sold the Dexter specimen for $1,000. While those Originals were setting records, the Second Restrike or Class III coins–artificially worn and given artificial backstories–were working their way toward marketplace acceptance.
Prices for 1804 dollars at auction soared as the decades passed.
In 1960, the Davis Restrike 1804 dollar brought $28,000 at auction, while in 1970 the Mickley Original specimen realized $77,500.
In 1980, at one of the U.S. coin market’s great heights, the Berg Restrike example reached $400,000, while the 1989 offering of the Dexter Original representative saw it go for $990,000 – another bull-market record tantalizingly close to the million-dollar threshold.
The Stickney Original piece, which in 1946 was the first five-figure U.S. coin at $10,500, became the first seven-figure 1804 dollar and the most expensive U.S. coin ever auctioned when it sold as part of the legendary Eliasberg Collection in 1997 for $1,815,000.
The Sultan of Muscat Original, universally considered the best-preserved of 1804 dollars, leapfrogged that price to bring $4,140,000 in 1999, a record for any coin that stood for several years and is still the highest price realized at auction for any 1804 dollar.
This piece, encapsulated in a PCGS PR62 holder, was last offered at auction in the 2013 Chicago Signature Auction, where it realized $3,877,500. It is our privilege to offer it once again in Long Beach as a part of the Geyer Family Collection.
The Long Beach Signature auction will be open for bidding soon at coins.HA.com.