A piece of copper that was struck by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia in 1794 and was a prototype for the fledgling nation’s money, known as the “No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar,” was auctioned off for $840,000. It closely resembles silver dollars that were later minted in Philadelphia. The front features the flowing hair portrait of Liberty and the date 1794, while the reverse side shows a small eagle on a rock within a wreath. The pattern is corroded and not in perfect condition because it was buried at the site of the original Mint. The Heritage auction opened at $312,000 when it was put up Friday evening but “in less than a minute, intense bidding quickly pushed the coin to its final auction price of $840,000.” The coin was owned by businessman and Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson, 73. He purchased it along with other patterns in 2008 to add to his large collection.
“While subsequent dollar coins struck featuring stars were added to the front of the coin, starless coins are considered by collectors and institutions as one-of-a-kind prototypes for the silver examples that would follow,” said Jacob Lipson of Heritage Auctions. “It’s incredibly exciting,” said California-based numismatist David McCarthy. “It gives us a view into what was going on inside the Mint in 1794 when it was gearing up to make the first dollars ever struck.”