Controversial 1804 Dollar
One of the most talked-about and sought-after, hence one of the most
expensive silver coins is the controversial 1804 Silver Dollar coin.
This particular set of coins has become famous and controversial due to
its peculiar and colorful history. I know we would all agree that rarity
and uniqueness are major qualities that greatly add beauty and mystery
to any collectible item. And these are just what the 1804 Silver Dollar
coins have over other more common silver coins.
To start with, the 1804 Silver Dollar coins were not really minted
during that year. Coins minted in 1804 actually bore the date of 1803
because the government reused old dies from that previous year. Silver
coins bearing the year 1804 were not struck until the year 1834.
Secondly, 1804 Silver coins were not meant to be circulated. They were
specifically and specially created as gifts.
In 1834, the U.S. Department of State created the first set of 1804
Silver Dollar Coins with the purpose of giving them away to certain
Asian rulers as gifts. The government presented these gifts with the
hope of gaining trading advantages with the rulers. There are seven of
these coins in existence and they constitute the Class I, or the
originals, of 1804 Silver Dollar Coins. One was given to the King of
Siam, King Rama III; another one was given to the Sultan of Oman and
Muscat, Said Bin Sultan; and one was kept at a museum. No one knows
exactly what happened to the remaining five silver coins because the
then ambassador Edmund Roberts passed away during the expedition.
Then, sometime between the year 1858 and 1860, one Mint employee by the
name of Theodore Eckfeld reproduced a couple of sets of 1804 Silver
Dollar coins without authorization. Mr. Eckfeld struck these illegal
silver coins using improvised dies. The first set, which is said to
comprise of around fifteen coins, is known today as the Class II of the
1804 Silver Dollar coins. Mr. Eckfeld sold these to unknowing coin
collectors in Philadelphia. Being illegally created, the U.S. government
searched and confiscated these coins. Today, only one of these Class II
1804 Silver Coins remains and itís kept at the Smithsonian Institution.
The second set of illegally struck silver coins is known today as Class
III of the 1804 Silver Coins. There are seven of these coins that are
known to exist. These coins bear huge resemblance to the Class I coins
and are harder to distinguish, except for a few differences that are
invisible to the untrained eye. And unfortunately, they already got into
the hands of collectors before the die from which they were struck was
confiscated in 1860 by the director of Mint, Mr. James Ross Snowden.