A prototype of the first US silver dollar coins was auctioned for $840,000

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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.

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“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.”