American 1804 silver dollar realises $3.8m

The 1804 silver dollar is among America’s most sought after coins.

That point was hammered home earlier this week, when one of the five specimens remaining in private hands sold for $3.8m at Stack’s Bowers in New York.  

Famously, this silver dollar was not minted in 1804.  

1804 silver dollar

The 1804 silver dollar was actually struck in the 1830s 

It was actually struck in 1834. 

US diplomat Edmund Roberts asked for a series of complete proof sets of US coinage to give out to officials in Asia, where he was negotiating trade deals.

While every other year was accounted for, it was found that silver dollars minted in 1804 used the same die as the previous year and so were marked '1803'.

To rectify this discrepancy and create an unbroken run of proof coins from the Mint’s inception, a handful of silver dollars were produced in the year of Roberts’ mission - bearing the date '1804'.

These are referred to as the Class I variety.

As the issue became increasingly popular among collectors, restrikes were produced for sale (the much less valuable Class II and III specimens).

These proof sets featuring the Class I dollar were given to the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat among others (and have since been sold off as individual lots).

The record for a Class I 1804 silver dollar is $4.1m, set in 1999 for one presented to the Sultan of Muscat.

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