From the NGC Archives: 1799 Draped Bust Silver Dollar

Posted on 2/18/2009

The collecting of early silver dollars has grown in popularity, and this featured coin has been described as "a great coin for the variety specialist."

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Silver dollars achieved a high-water mark in 1799, when some 423,515 pieces were coined. This mintage would stand as a record for the denomination until 1860, when just over half a million silver dollars were issued from the New Orleans Mint. This design was the product of a collaborative effort. Famed portraitist Gilbert Stuart furnished the artwork, while the modeling in wax was performed by John Eckstein and the engraving by Robert Scot. The reverse of this type is based on the Great Seal of the United States of America, adopted in 1782. On the coins, however, the arrows and the olive branch were inadvertently transposed, which, in the language of heraldry, suggests that the nation favors war over peace!

The collecting of early silver dollars has grown in popularity since the publication of the fine book by Q. David Bowers and Mark Borckardt. This handsome specimen appeared in the Heritage Auctions sale of January 1998. In that catalog, it was described as "a lovely coin, with original silver-gray surfaces and golden highlights." Heritage went on to describe it as "a great coin for the variety specialist," noting that this variety, BB-154, was rated by Bowers and Borckardt as the second rarest of 1799.

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