By Mark

At 6:00 pm Central time on Thursday, April 24th I will be releasing my new book, The Dollar of 1804 – The U.S. Mint’s Hidden Secret, at the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, IL. CoinWeek will be posting a video after my presentation which will reveal major new discoveries about 1804 Dollars, “The King of American Coins.” CoinWeek has asked me to provide some of the highlights that I will announce at my book release presentation which will be held in room “Nirvana C” at the CSNS convention.

1804dollarA drawing will be held at the end of the presentation giving away a copy of my new book and a silver replica of the 1804 Dollar encapsulated by NGC. You may register online for the drawing by clicking this link. Those who attend the presentation will be eligible to enter a drawing for a copy of my new book, an NGC encapsulated silver replica of the 1804 Dollar, and a limited edition print of James V. Dexter’s 1887 artwork commemorating the famous Dexter 1804 Dollar, plus two bonuses – a History Channel video and a copy of the book, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar.

It’s been more than two centuries since U.S. Mint records revealed that 19,570 silver dollars were coined in the year 1804, but still only 15 examples of this coin issue have been discovered. We know that those were coined many years later than the year in which they are dated and those are proof or presentation strikes. What happened to all the rest?

One popular theory that has since become accepted as fact in the minds of most modern-day numismatic scholars is that the missing coins were actually dated “1803.” While that may have been the case, hidden historic facts show why numismatists of an earlier era believed that 1804-dated silver dollars, coined in the year 1804 as business strikes used for commerce, may have actually existed but were all melted.

Imagine the existence of 19,570 business strike silver dollars dated 1804! For today’s numismatists, that is akin to believing the world is flat, but discovering it is really round. Controversy and speculation have surrounded 1804-dated silver dollars since they were first brought to the attention of numismatists by collector Matthew A. Stickney in 1842. However, my book divulges that the world was put on notice in 1805 that 19,570 silver dollars were coined in 1804.

Another prominent 1804 Dollar myth that has become accepted as fact and that has been written about for 130 years in numerous books, numismatic periodicals and auction catalogs is that the Dexter 1804 Dollar, the subject of my new book, The Dollar of 1804 – The U.S. Mint’s Hidden Secret, was planted in a German auction conducted in 1884 by coin dealer Adolph Weyl. That tale states that the coin now known as the Dexter 1804 Dollar was “laundered” through the Weyl auction by Philadelphia coin dealers S.H. and H. Chapman to give it a contrived foreign pedigree to cover up its real source in 1884 – the U.S. Mint. That purely fictional account states that S. H. and H. Chapman arranged with Weyl to top all the other bids and buy the coin back at the highest price.

WeylAgain, that story has become accepted as “fact” by modern numismatic scholars, but it is irrefutably false! I’m going to show copies of signed letters written by the Chapman brothers to Adolph Weyl in 1884 and 1885 revealing what actually took place. Confusing the age-old myth about the Dexter Dollar was the late date in which that 1804 Dollar was discovered in the Weyl auction – 1884.

The known 1804 Dollars were struck during two different time periods and are classified as “originals” and “restrikes.” They were discovered by collectors during three phases: 1) during the 1840s and 1860s when the first group of five of the eight “originals” were discovered; 2) during the 1870s and through 1908 when all seven “restrikes” and the Dexter Dollar, an “original,” were discovered; and 3) during the 20th Century when the last two “originals” were discovered.  My book contains a table showing that chronology.

Some old accounts stated that between 50 and 100 restrikes were made. Later research shows that was unlikely, but we know that about ten 1804 Dollars were re-struck in about 1858. Some of them were sold, but were retrieved and returned back to the U.S. Mint and melted. After James Vila Dexter purchased his 1804 Dollar from the 1885 Philadelphia auction by S.H. and H. Chapman for a then record price of $1,000, Dexter was told his coin was a restrike, when in fact it was an original. As a restrike, he was told his coin was worth a mere $25 to $50!

Dexter sued the Chapman brothers the following year for $5,000. In 1989, through original research, I discovered details of that now famous episode in American numismatics. I have written and lectured extensively about that story and parts of it have subsequently been widely published by others, as taken from my work. In my new book I cover the story more completely, particularly the correspondence egging Dexter on to sue the Chapman brothers and how the case was settled.

ferguson2In celebration of the settlement of that lawsuit, declaring his 1804 Dollar to be a genuine 1804 Dollar coined at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, in 1887 James V. Dexter commissioned a beautiful work of art commemorating his rarity. I discovered Dexter’s work of art in 1989 and published 1,804 limited edition prints of his artwork right after the Dexter 1804 Dollar was the very first coin to sell at the $1 million dollar level – $990,000 to be exact – at Auction ’89 in Chicago.

Another famous “original” 1804 Dollar, the Mickley Specimen, which was sold by Heritage Auctions last August for more than $3.8 million, was believed to have been discovered during the 1850s.

For the first time in modern history, my book reveals an account from the bank teller who obtained this rarity for Joseph J. Mickley, telling about how Mr. Mickley jumped up and down with tears in his eyes when the teller visited him and handed him the 1804 Dollar. That incident took place prior to the 1850s, and the bank teller’s account revealed in my book pins down the month and the year when the Mickley 1804 Dollar was found and given to Mr. Mickley.

While my new book, The Dollar of 1804 – The U.S. Mint’s Hidden Secret, touches on all 1804 Dollars, explaining the sources of each of the 15 known examples, the book centers around the true story of the Dexter Dollar. Modern-day numismatists know of James Vila Dexter primarily because of the fame of his 1804 Dollar. However he was a major collector, owning numerous important, very rare gold, silver and copper U.S. and world coins, several of which are now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

My book covers highlights of J. V. Dexter’s collection, which will be of interest to those advanced numismatists who appreciate the importance of pedigrees. Dexter’s collection has remained unknown for more than a century because it was sold privately. There is no auction catalog leaving a record of his important collection.

Finally, it is well known that the King of Siam proof set, containing an 1804 Dollar, was brought to light in 1962. That was a famous episode in American numismatics, causing the correction and re-write of another classic book on the subject of 1804 Dollars which was to be released at the same time.

The Dollar of 1804 – The U.S. Mint’s Hidden Secret contains a transcript of the talk given by coin dealer David Spink of London when he announced the discovery of the King of Siam proof set at the convention of the American Numismatic Association in 1962.

And for the first time that I know of, my book illustrates the original, stained hand-written Presidential Directive from November 11, 1834 authorizing the first strikings of the presentation proof sets which included 1804 Dollars. I found that letter in the National Archives many years ago during my 25 years of original research of the 1804 Dollar story and the Dexter Dollar.

These are among the 1804 Dollar discoveries that I will reveal at my book release presentation and in my new book, The Dollar of 1804 – The U.S Mint’s Hidden Secret. The book, a silver replica of the 1804 Dollar encapsulated by NGC, and a limited edition print of James V. Dexter’s 1887 artwork commemorating his 1804 Dollar can be purchased at



mark ferguson Values are Quietly Rising for Ultra Rare CoinsMark Ferguson has been dealing in high-end rare coins and precious metals since 1969. He has graded coins professionally for PCGS and was the Market Analyst for Coin World’s Coin Values magazine between 2002 and 2009. He has written feature articles and regular columns for Coin World, Coin Values magazine, The Coin Dealer Newsletter, Numismatic News, The Numismatist, ANA Journal, Coin News – a British publication, and a column for CoinWeek. He is a recognized authority in appraising rare coins and a recognized expert on the 1804 silver dollar, which is known as “The King of American Coins.” Mark can be reached at Mark Ferguson Rare Coins, LLC or at his new website