Flowing Hair Dollar

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  • 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez
  1. EF40 1795 Flowing Hair Half Dollar - O-125 - Graded ANACS. We acquire coins from a variety of sources with some being graded before we get them and some we send out to grading service companies after we receive them.
  2. The Flowing Hair silver dollar scores an impressive 66! “Comparatively, another 1794 silver dollar graded at just 35 sold in 2019 for $288,000” notes Smithsonian Magazine. Associated Press speaks to Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana president Brett Charville, who reveals “one graded at 12 sold last year for $99,000”.
  3. The above is an image of a counterfeit 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, Small Eagle Reverse, and this coin looks too good to be authentic. The details of the hair is to pronounced and the eagle's breast feathers are the incorrect shape, and the relief in general is too high (meaning that this coin is struck in high relief and no Flowing Hair Dollars were struck in high relief).
  4. The Draped Bust dollar was created in 1795 as a modification of and improvement upon the Flowing Hair dollar that had only been in production since the previous year. The person responsible for the design of the Draped Bust dollar is not known for certain, although most accept Gilbert Stuart as the designer.

Coin Info

United States
Silver Coin
0.77344 t oz

Value of Flowing Hair Dollar (1794-1795) 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. 1794 BB-1 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar Value 1795 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar.

$1 USD
U.S. Mint

The 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar goes down in history as being the very first official dollar coins the United States federal government ever issued as legal-tender federal money. Designed by Robert Scot, the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar is the coin that began the American tradition of silver dollars, even though it was, in concept, based on other large-size silver coins from other world governments. Of particular inspiration behind the dollar coin are the Austrian silver Thaler and the Spanish dollar, the latter otherwise known as the 8 Real coin, or Pieces of Eight.

When the 1794 silver dollar was first struck, the United States Mint was still in its infancy, having just been federally established by the Coinage Act of 1792. The U.S. Mint had only just begun striking official federal coinage in 1793 with the production of the copper half cent and large cent. By 1794, the U.S. Mint commenced striking silver coinage, with the silver dollar among these issues.
The first silver dollars were minted in very small quantities. The 1794 dollar saw the very smallest of all early dollar mintages, with just 1,758 pieces struck. Believed to be the very first dollar coin ever minted is a Specimen-66 example that sold for more than $10 million in 2013.
Indeed, all 1794 dollars are very scarce, and perhaps less than 150 exist today. Not all cost $10 million. In fact, the average price for a 1794 dollar that grades Fine-12 is $150,000. That's certainly not cheap, but even with its six-figure weight the price is still lower than the $10 million paid for the 1794 dollar that many theorize was inspected by George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and first U.S. Mint Director David Rittenhouse.
Coin collectors should be wary of buying any and all 1794 silver dollars that aren't certified by a reputable third-party coin authentication company. Many more counterfeit 1794 dollars exist than do real specimens, and genuine examples are challenging to come by. Collectors should be wary of any deals that seem too good to be true, and even when being offered a 1794 dollar that seems in line with pricing trends, buyers should still insist on buying the coin slabbed, not raw.
Those who have or plan to buy 1794 dollar coins should be proud of their numismatic acquisitions. After all, the 1794 dollar is the very first among all U.S. dollars, preceding federal paper dollar currency by several decades. The 1794 dollar is truly the 'dollar that started it all'!

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(Redirected from Flowing Hair Dollar)
Flowing Hair dollar
United States of America
Value1 Dollar United States dollar
Mass26.96 g (416 gr)
Diameter39–40 mm (1.53–1.57 in)
Years of minting1794–1795
DesignBust of Liberty
DesignerRobert Scot
Design date1794
DesignEagle surrounded by wreath
DesignerRobert Scot
Design date1794

The Flowing Hair dollar was the first dollar coin issued by the United States federal government. The coin was minted in 1794 and 1795; its size and weight were based on the Spanish dollar, which was popular in trade throughout the Americas.

In 1791, following a study by Alexander Hamilton, Congress passed a joint resolution calling for the establishment of a national mint. Later that year, in his third State of the Union address, President George Washington urged Congress to provide for a mint, which was officially authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792. Despite the authorization, silver and gold coins were not struck until 1794. The Flowing Hair dollar, designed by Robert Scot, was initially produced in 1794, and again in 1795. In October 1795 the design was replaced by the Draped Bust dollar.

On January 24, 2013, a specimen striking from the 1794 production sold for $10,016,875, the highest price ever paid for a coin.

  • 1Background
  • 2Production


Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton compiled a report on the American monetary system prior to the establishment of the United States Mint.

Beginning in the 1780s, a number of prominent Americans called for the establishment of a central mint to supply the United States with official coinage; all such proposals failed due in large part to lack of funds and opposition from individuals and groups who preferred that coins be struck by the individual states.[1] Since there were no federal coins issued, the needs of the states were fulfilled by a variety of domestic and foreign coins and tokens, including Spanish eight-real coins (popularly known as Spanish dollars or pieces of eight).[1]

In 1789, the United States Constitution, which granted Congress the power 'to coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures',[2] was ratified and came into force. The following year, Congress began deliberating on the state of the nation's monetary system and coinage.[1] On January 28, 1791, Treasury SecretaryAlexander Hamilton presented a report to Congress detailing the findings of a study he had conducted on the monetary system and the potential of a United States mint.[3] As part of his study, Hamilton had a series of assay tests of Spanish dollars performed, as that was the coin upon which the United States monetary system would be based. After viewing the results, the secretary recommended that the silver content of the United States dollar be based on the average silver content of the reales tested.[4] Hamilton's recommendation was that the dollar should contain 371.25 grains of silver and have a gross weight of 416 grains, the balance being copper.[5] On March 3, 1791, after reviewing Hamilton's report, Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing a federal mint; the resolution, however, gave no specifics or appropriations.[5]

Establishment of the Mint

In his third annual address to Congress, later known as the State of the Union address, delivered on October 25, 1791, in Philadelphia, President George Washington urged members of Congress to put the joint resolution approved earlier that year into immediate effect:[6]

The Philadelphia Mint, established in 1792, struck its first coins in February 1793. (Photo 1908)

The disorders in the existing currency, and especially the scarcity of small change, a scarcity so peculiarly distressing to the poorer classes, strongly recommend the carrying into immediate effect the resolution already entered into concerning the establishment of a mint. Measures have been taken pursuant to that resolution for procuring some of the most necessary artists, together with the requisite apparatus.[7]

In response, the Senate appointed a committee chaired by Robert Morris to draft the necessary specifications and legislation that would officially create a federal mint and coinage.[5] The committee presented a bill before Congress on December 21, 1791, which stated in part that the new dollar coin (which was to form the basis of the United States monetary system) should contain 371 grains of silver and a total weight of 416 grains, as Hamilton had earlier recommended.[5] The new silver coins were to be struck in an alloy containing 1,485 parts out of 1,664 (about 89.24 percent) fine silver, with the remainder copper, intended to equal the silver in Spanish dollars. However, an assay of the Spanish dollars was in error—they were in fact 65/72 silver (about 90.28 percent) with the remainder copper.[8]

The Spanish dollar was the basis of the United States silver dollar.

One provision in Morris' legislation called for President Washington to be depicted on the obverse side of every coin struck by the new mint.[5] The bill passed the Senate after debate, but it was altered in the House of Representatives to instead call for the head of an allegorical figure representing Liberty to appear.[5] Upon returning to the Senate, the upper house insisted on its version of the design provision. The House rejected the provision for the second time and passed another version of the bill, after which the Senate concurred.[9] The law, known as the Coinage Act of 1792, was signed into law on April 2, 1792, by President Washington.[10] The Act provided for the creation of the United States Mint, and appropriated money to meet the cost of construction of an appropriate facility, and for salaries for employees and officials.[10] The denominations sanctioned under the Act were half cents, cents, half dismes, dismes, quarter dollars, half dollars, dollars, quarter eagles, half eagles and eagles.[10] On July 31, 1792, the foundation stone of the Philadelphia Mint was laid by newly appointed Mint Director David Rittenhouse.[9] Machinery and personnel began occupying the new building by September 1792, and production began on cents in February 1793.[9] In the first year of production at the Mint, only copper coins were minted, as the prospective assayer could not raise the required $10,000 surety to officially assume the position;[9] the 1792 Coinage Act stated that both the chief coiner and assayer were to 'become bound to the United States of America, with one or more sureties to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury, in the sum of ten thousand dollars'.[10] Later that year, Secretary of StateThomas Jefferson appealed to Congress that the amount of the bonds be lowered.[11] On March 3, 1794, Congress lowered the bonds to $5,000 and $1,000 for chief coiner and assayer, respectively.[11]

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Design creation

A pattern for the Flowing Hair dollar, struck in copper without the obverse stars of the circulating issues

Early in 1794, engraver Robert Scot began preparing designs for the silver dollar.[11] Scot's initial design depicted a bust of Liberty, while his reverse featured an eagle, both required by the 1792 Coinage Act.[10] Scot's design closely followed his design for the cent, but with the Phrygian cap removed. Government officials later instructed Scot to include a wreath around the eagle and to move the denomination from the reverse face to the edge of the coin.[12] After receiving approval, Scot began engraving the hubs for the new silver dollar. Extra care was taken during the engraving of this denomination, because the dollar would be the largest American coin, and would thus receive the most scrutiny from foreign nations.[12] The lettering was executed by Frederick Geiger, who had worked as a typographer for various books and newspapers.[12] After the dies were created, several copper test pieces were struck. Officials decided to add fifteen stars around the periphery, representing the fifteen states that had ratified the Constitution to that point, to the right-facing Liberty on the obverse.[12]


Now that mintage of the silver denominations could begin, the Mint began seeking depositors to bring in silver and gold bullion to be coined. After receiving several deposits, assayer Albion Cox notified Rittenhouse of his beliefs that the .892 standard approved for silver coinage was difficult to produce and that it would darken if put into circulation.[13] Instead, Cox recommended that the purity be modified to .900 fine, but also that the weight be kept at 416 grains.[13] This meant that the new alloy was contrary to statute and that all depositors would be overcharged for their silver bullion deposits, as there was a higher silver content in the coins than was allowed by the Coinage Act of 1792.[13] The Mint's action cost suppliers of silver about one percent of their deposit; the largest depositor, John Vaughan, reckoned his loss at $2,260. Congress approved his petition for reimbursement in 1800, after several delays.[8]

Before the coins could be struck, the edge lettering and devices had to be impressed on the edge of the planchets. This action was performed with a device known as the Castaing machine; the machine stamped the edge with the words 'Hundred Cents One Dollar or Unit' along with ornamentation.[13] As production was inexact, many planchets intended for silver dollars were overweight. This was remedied by filing the face of the planchets; for this reason, the coins vary in weight more dramatically than later issues, which were minted with more precise equipment.[13]

The first silver dollars were struck on October 15, 1794.[14] The silver used for the 1794 dollar coins came from part of a large quantity of French billon coins deposited by the Bank of Maryland; as they were of a lower fineness than required, refining was necessary.[8] In total, 1,758 acceptable silver dollars were produced in 1794.[15] Those which were deemed unsuitable for circulation were either melted or restruck in 1795.[14] The 1,758 coins that were officially delivered by Chief Coiner Henry Voight, though acceptable, struck poorly due to the press that was used during early production at the Mint, which was a man-powered screw press intended for use on coins no larger than a half dollar.[14]

All acceptable 1794 dollars were paid to Rittenhouse.[14] In an attempt to help circulate the coins, Rittenhouse spent many of the new coins and traded them for foreign coins to market the new products of the Mint.[14] Others were distributed to VIPs and distinguished visitors to the Mint.[8] After the initial production, Rittenhouse ordered all dollar coin production to end until Mint personnel could build a more powerful press that would be capable of better striking the coins.[13] The New Hampshire Gazette wrote of the new dollar coins on December 2, 1794,

Some of the new dollars now coining at the Mint of the United States have found their way to this town. A correspondent put one in into the editor's hands yesterday. Its weight is equal to that of a Spanish dollar, but the metal appears finer .. The tout ensemble (entire design) has a pleasing effect to a connoisseur, but the touches of the [en]graver are too delicate, and there is a want of that boldness of execution which is necessary to durability and currency.[16]

The new coinage press was completed in early 1795, and the first group of dollars, totalling 3,810 coins, was delivered on May 6.[17] The coins struck on May 8 may have borne a 1794 date.[8] A number of 1795 dollars (along with one 1794 issue) are known to have been struck with a silver plug set into the center, measuring approximately 8 millimetres (0.31 in).[18] It is believed that this was done to correct the weight of underweight planchets.[18] The total mintage for the second and final year of production is estimated at 160,295.[15] In total, 203,033 silver dollars were struck in 1795,[19] but it is unknown exactly how many of those were of the Flowing Hair type, as the Draped Bust dollar succeeded it in October 1795;[20] the Draped Bust dollar was designed by portraitist Gilbert Stuart at the behest of Rittenhouse's successor as Mint Director, Henry DeSaussure.[21]


Flowing Hair Dollar Images

Throughout its history, the 1794 dollar has widely been considered one of the rarest and most valuable of all United States coins.[22] In a September 1880 issue of The Coin Journal, the author noted that a good quality specimen of the 1794 dollar was valued at fifty dollars.[22] In the early 1990s, numismatic historian Jack Collins estimated the surviving number of the coins to be between 120 and 130.[22] In 2013, the finest known example, which was among the earliest coins struck and was prepared with special care, was sold at auction for $10,016,875, the highest selling price of any coin in history.[23] The dollar was graded Specimen-66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service, noting the special conditions under which it was struck.[24] The coin, which had previously been owned by Colonel E.H.R. Green, was sold by Stack's Bowers Galleries in a public auction in January 2013.[23] It was previously sold in 2010 for what was then a record sum of $7.85 million, to the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation.[24]Steven Contursi, a former owner of the coin, said that it was a 'national treasure' and that he was proud to have been its 'custodian' from 2003 until its sale in 2010.[24] Martin Logies, representative of the foundation that purchased the coin, said that of all the rarities he had seen, he believed that one was the 'single most important of all'.[24]

Flowing Hair Dollar Weight


Flowing Hair Dollar Value

  1., p. 27
  2. Article 1, Section 8. U.S. Constitution
  3. Preston, p. 42
  4. Preston, p. 44
  5., p. 29
  6. Statesman's Manual, p. 117
  7. Statesman's Manual, p. 42
  8., p. 423
  9., p. 31
  10., Richard, ed. (1845). The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America. Boston, Massachusetts: Charles C. Little and James Brown. pp. 246–251.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  11., p. 32
  12., p. 33
  13., p. 35
  14., p. 36
  15. 15.015.1Yeoman, p. 207
  16. Taxay, p. 106
  17. Julian, p. 37
  18. 18.018.1Yeoman, p. 206
  19. Yeoman, pp. 207–208
  20. Julian, p. 177
  21. Breen, p. 425
  22., p. 166
  23. 23.023.1'Stack's Bowers — The 2013 New York Americana Sale'. Stack's Bowers. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  24.'Dollar Sets Record Price'. Numismatic News: 1, 38. 8 June 2010.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>


  • Breen, Walter (1988). Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. New York, New York: Doubleday. ISBN978-0-385-14207-6.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  • Julian, R.W. (1993). Bowers, Q. David (ed.). Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States. Wolfeboro, New Hampshire: Bowers and Merena Galleries. ISBN0-943161-48-7.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  • Preston, Robert E. (1896). History of the Monetary Legislation and of the Currency System of the United States. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: John J. McVey.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  • Taxay, Don (1983) [1966]. The U.S. Mint and Coinage (reprint ed.). New York, New York: Sanford J. Durst Numismatic Publications. ISBN978-0-915262-68-7.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  • The Statesman's Manual. 1. New York, New York: Edward Walker. 1858.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
  • Yeoman, R.S. (2010). A Guide Book of United States Coins (63rd ed.). Atlanta, Georgia: Whitman Publishing. ISBN978-0-7948-2767-0.<templatestyles src='Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css'></templatestyles>
Preceded by
Dollar coin of the United States (1794, 1795)

Concurrent with:

Draped Bust dollar (1795)

Succeeded by
Draped Bust dollar

Flowing Hair Dollar Coin

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