Prototype Of First U.S. Dollar Auctioned Off For $840k

A rare find described as the “first dollar made of copper, silver, or otherwise created at the U.S. mint” was sold at Heritage Auctions in Dallas for more than twice the low estimate value for a whopping $840,000. The copper dollar coin prototype is rare and was minted in Philadelphia (the U.S. capital in early American history) over 220 years ago in 1794.


The rare coin features an experimental design for the “No Stars Flowing Hair” dollar that was the framework for the first silver dollars and were coined the same year. This coin was the first form of American currency as the U.S. lacked a standardized national coin tender system prior to the Coinage Mint Act of 1792.


This was during the time of the Revolutionary War with Congress and states have the right to issue banknotes or mint money. At the time, foreign coins and bartering were also deemed acceptable forms of payment.


The paper currency issued by Congress to fund the war effort known as continentals quickly became worthless because they weren’t backed by a tangible asset and too many were printed with the U.S. in a currency crisis. The U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787 and was ratified in 1790, giving Congress the power to create the national coinage system.


The Mint Act was established two years later in 1792 establishing a national U.S. mint, laying out the denominations and designs of the new currency. Each coin was minted with a certain metal to easily determine value with the lowest value dollar (“unit”) minted in silver and the highest value $10 “eagle” minted in gold. The early versions of coins from the U.S. Mint trials were made in copper that left the best impression.


Congress also laid out design specifications as each coin was required to one side as “an impression emblematic of liberty” and the other side to have “the representation or figure of an eagle.” The coin that sold at auction was 227 years old that isn’t in perfect condition with a combination of corrosion as the legend suggests the coin was buried at the first Philadelphia Mint before being unearthed in 1876.

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