Only one pair of dies was used in the production of the 1794 issue. The young nation’s first mint had just been established in Philadelphia two years earlier, and its premises spread over two lots on 7th Street between Market and Arch, with the renowned scientist and inventor David Rittenhouse as its director.
Thomas Jefferson’s repeated efforts to secure the services of Swiss inventor Jean-Pierre Droz had never born fruit. (Droz had created a new coining process that notably streamlined the striking of crown-size coins). But the employment of Albion Coxe of Great Britain as assayer had been secured, along with the Philadelphia clock-maker and steam-engine builder, Henry Voight – who had repaired many a watch and clock for Jefferson – as the mint’s chief coiner. Voight would prepare much of the dies.
The early mint, though, faced many difficulties. Minting its own money was an entirely new enterprise for a new nation and expertise, not surprisingly, was in short supply. Tools and materials were hard to come by and the three horses who provided the “horsepower” for the mint’s machinery were not overly robust. Such issues likely contributed to the small output of the first U.S. Silver Dollar – only a mere 1,758 dollars were produced in 1794.
Still they were coins that the mint and fledgling republic could be proud of; and the silver dollar would go on to be the United States’ most iconic coin.
This lovely example of this very rare and important coin was found by Spink London specialists on a valuation day in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, U.K.
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