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The 1804 U.S. Dollar

The 1804 U.S. Dollar ("The King of American Coins") is among the most coveted U.S. rarities. Strangely enough, none of the 1804 dollars was struck in that year. In 1804 the United States Mint struck only 1803 dollars, and then stopped regular production of silver dollars until 1840. The 1804 dollar actually appeared in the period 1834-35, when the U.S. Department of State decided that a few coins with the unusual date 1804 might make excellent gifts to certain rulers in Asia in exchange for trade advantages. The appearance in 1962 of the set presented to the King of Siam, Rama III, between 1834 and 1836 confirmed this early purpose for the coins. In 1833, the King had signed a treaty of commerce with the United States.

The unusual history of the 1804 silver dollar extends to the details of when and how the coins were struck. The specimens struck during the 1830s are considered "originals" and constitute the Class I group-about seven are known. The coin given to the King of Siam comes from this group. Class II contains a single specimen. It was struck about 1858-59 over a Swiss coin, a "shooting taler" of 1857, perhaps as an experiment by employees of the U.S. Mint. Class III was produced in the 1850s at the Mint for collectors when coin collecting became more popular. They were struck in 1858-59 with an original obverse die and a reconstructed reverse die; the edge lettering was added later. About six specimens of these Class III coins survive. This display brings together, for the first time in U.S. numismatic history, examples of the three classes from the same collection-the National Numismatic Collection.

 

 

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