1794 FLOWING HAIR $1 XF40
WELL STUCK WITH STRONG DATE AND STARS. ONE OF AMERICA'S DESIREABLE RARITIES. OUR FIRST SILVER DOLLAR.
Since the young United States Mint lacked its own supply of bullion, and depositors failed to provide acceptable silver in a timely manner, Mint Director David Rittenhouse was forced to deposit some of his own precious metal so that Silver Dollar production could commence as soon as possible. On August 29, 1794 the director deposited 1734.50 troy ounces of refined silver ingots with a value of $2,001.34. Taking possession of the ingots three days later, Chief Coiner Henry Voigt alloyed the silver with copper to adjust the fineness. Although the Mint Act of April 2, 1792 (which established the United States' monetary system and authorized production of the Silver Dollar) specified a fineness of 0.8924 for this denomination, Voigt processed this initial bullion deposit to a 0.9000 standard. The chief coiner's actions here were apparently based on a recommendation from Mint Assayer Albion Cox who felt that an increase in fineness would help prevent the coins from toning too quickly.
Once Voigt's task was complete, the Mint commenced striking the nation's first Silver Dollars. A total of only 2,000 pieces were prepared from a single pair of dies. The Mint's equipment, while suitable for producing copper Half Cents and Cents, proved woefully inadequate for striking coins with the large diamater and relatively hard metal of a Silver Dollar. Two hundred and forty two examples were so poorly struck as to be deemed unacceptable for commerce. Most of these pieces were destroyed, although at least two found further use as planchets for 1795 Dollars. The removal of these inadequate examples leaves a net mintage of just 1,758 pieces for the 1794 Silver Dollar. All of these coins were delivered to Mint Director Rittenhouse on October 15 of that year, who then distributed them as he saw fit.
Most of the 1,758 examples that the Mint found acceptable for coinage are still plagued with striking problems. Voigt's refining activities were less than perfect, and gas bubbles and other impurities remained in the silver at the time of striking. These imperfections can be seen as light surface porosity on some extant examples. In addition, the obverse and reverse dies were not properly aligned in the press with the result that the left-peripheral areas on many survivors display more-or-less softness of detail. In fact, the first few stars and one or more digits in the date are often extremely faint, if not absent altogether. Finally, adjustment marks are seen quite frequently on extant 1794 Dollars. These features resulted from the Mint's desire to salvage overweight planchets for coinage by filing away some of the excess metal. Although adjustment marks are a natural product of operations in the early U.S. Mint, they are so severe on some 1794 Dollars as to interfere with the devices and, hence, limit the eye appeal.