Coin Specifications

Category: Early Dollars (1794-1804)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 160,295
Catalog: KM-17
Obverse Designer: Robert Scot
Reverse Designer: Robert Scot
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.8920
Weight: 26.9600g
ASW: 0.7731oz
Melt Value: $16.07 (7/25/2014)
Diameter: 39-40mm
Edge: HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1795 FLOWING HAIR S$1 MS obverse 1795 FLOWING HAIR S$1 MS reverse


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Description & Analysis

While the Revolutionary War established the United States' political independence from Great Britain, it failed to secure the fledgling nation's economic autonomy from the leading European Powers. It must have been a constant source of embarrassment for President George Washington that, as he oversaw America's political development in the 1790s from the island of Manhattan, British ships dotted New York harbor and Spanish coins filled America's banks. While the War of 1812 forever established the line between American and British economic concerns, Spanish and Mexican dollars would be a mainstay of the United States' commercial scene until the Mint Act of 1857. The economic dependency that characterized the United States during the late 18th and early 19th centuries is readily illustrated by the growing pains of the nation's new monetary unit--the silver dollar.

First authorized by the Mint Act of 1792, the silver dollar did not make its debut until 1794. Congress authorized the coin's weight at 416 grams and its fineness at 1,485/1,664 silver, 179/1,664 copper. Believing that this criteria was too cumbersome for the Mint to work with, Assayer Albion Cox recommended that Congress fix the silver content at 371.25 grams, but lower the copper content from 44.75 to 41 grams. Since Mint Director David Rittenhouse anticipated that Congress would approve Cox's suggestion without reserve, he started dollar coinage at this new, unauthorized standard. Accordingly, on October 15, 1794, the first 2,000 examples of Robert Scot's Flowing Hair silver dollar emerged from the press at the Philadelphia Mint. Like the nation whose economic plight that they represented, these coins were besieged with numerous embarrassing problems.

Of the 2,000 pieces originally struck, the Mint's staff deemed 242 specimens as underweight and eventually reused them as planchets. The 1,758 pieces that the Mint actually delivered for circulation were not widely received by the American public. The December 2, 1794 edition of the New Hampshire Gazette attacked the striking weakness that typified these early dollars when it stated, '?the touches of the graver are too delicate, and there is a want of that boldness of execution which is necessary to durability and currency.' Furthermore, Congress itself was in an uproar over Rittenhouse's usurpation of authority. Although both Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton supported Cox's proposal, the legislature continued to favor their original standard. This dilemma meant that the 1794 silver dollars were technically an illegal issue. The combination of the legal and artistic criticism that bombarded Scot's first Flowing Hair dollars meant that the older, heavier Spanish and Mexican pieces continued to circulate as the preferred medium of exchange within the United States.

Despite its obvious failure, Scot's Flowing Hair design continued in use on some of the dies that the Mint prepared in 1795. In his book Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States, Q. David Bowers speculates that 280,000 examples of 1795-dated Flowing Hair dollars emerged from the Philadelphia Mint between 1795 and 1798. Scorned by the public and forced to yield to foreign currency within their own borders, these pieces directly echoed the failure of the United States to control its own economic destiny throughout the 1790s. Today, however, the survivors of the short-lived Flowing Hair design are of the utmost rarity and desirability within numismatic circles.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 12/9/2013

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1795 FLOWING HAIR S$1 MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 2100 3150 5000 7050 14000 14000 23500 25000 32500 67500 77500 86500 104000 200000 310000 450000 - - - - -
$ 16500 25000 27500 37500 75000 85000 95000 112500 225000 340000 650000 - - -
NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1144
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 40
High Grade: 66


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
8/9/2014 VF 20   Heritage Auctions 2014 August 5, 7 & 9 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Chicago Session(3), 1208/Lot# 4618
8/9/2014 MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2014 August 5, 7 & 9 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Chicago Session(4), 1208/Lot# 5592
8/9/2014 AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2014 August 5, 7 & 9 ANA US Coins Signature Auction - Chicago Session(4), 1208/Lot# 5591


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
8/19/1995 NGC AU 50   Heritage Auctions 1995 ANA Sale #139, 139/Lot# 6487 $5,170.00
8/7/1998 PCGS AU 50   Heritage Auctions 1998 ANA Signature Sale #190, 190/Lot# 7995 $5,635.00
4/3/2006 NGC XF 40   David Lawrence Rare Coins Auction 81: The Leesburg Sale, 86/Lot# 801 $11,500.00
10/1/2008 NCS F 12   Teletrade Auction 2593, 2593/Lot# 1671 $1,782.50
5/30/2010 PCGS F 15   Bonhams Coins, Medals, and Banknotes, 18301/Lot# 1486 $3,802.00
6/2/2010 PCGS XF 40   Heritage Auctions 2010 June Long Beach, CA Signature US Coin Auction #1140, 1140/Lot# 809 $9,200.00
6/17/2010 NGC XF 40   Stack's Bowers The June 2010 Baltimore Auction, 41/Lot# 2424 $4,140.00
5/27/2012 PCGS AU 58   Goldberg May 27-31, 2012 The May Pre-Long Beach Auction, 69/Lot# 1270 $63,250.00
11/29/2012 PCGS AU 50   Heritage Auctions 2012 November 29 - December 2 US Coin Signature Auction - Houston Session(1), 1177/Lot# 3744 $15,275.00
4/27/2014 NGC   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 04/27/2014, 173/Lot# 158910 $2,640.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1795 FLOWING HAIR S$1 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base820123914772197283438174275466954725914648568207756860192341129416148172961865135932506431
959131817172409316139694406493656196104659671328037881299201291216530177472441140835506430
000000440649365619610465967132803788129920129121653017747244114083500
0000004537520457666294670874448319902310607145301691318199301714573900
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 65
Points: 16148
Owner: cardinal
 
Grade: MS 61
Points: 7960
Owner: Durango Collection
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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7/1/2004  — A unique example of the 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollar, struck over a previously struck 1794 silver dollar, has been graded and encapsulated by NGC as AU-53.
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