1795 Silver Dollar - 1795 S$1 NGC XF40. BB-27, B-5. Always in demand in all grades, this 1795 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar is well balanced with excellent, smooth surfaces. The light tan and silver surfaces are completely original and clean with virtually no abrasion marks or other distractions. Liberty’s hair below her head and down her neck is defined and detailed, in keeping with the grade. Because Liberty’s head was deeply impressed into the die, the coin is in higher relief than others of this year.
The coin is identified as the BB-27 variety because of the presence of a “bar” over 2 millimeters long that extends diagonally from near the top curl toward the point of Star 5. The variety has a wide date with the 1 and 7 farthest from each other. The distances between the Star 1 and 1 in the date, as well as 7 to 9 are about equal. This obverse die was used to strike only the BB-27. The reverse shows three leaves under each wing. There are 13 berries, seven are on the left branch and six are on the right. There are two berries under the first T in STATES. One is inside the wreath and one is outside, and there are four leaves under the first S of STATES. There is a fine die crack from the end of the left stem down to the rim. This die was also used to strike 1795 BB-25 and BB-26.
Chief Engraver Robert Scot designed the Flowing Hair silver dollar. It was issued from 1794 to 1795. It showed a portrait of Liberty facing right with her hair loosely tied behind her head. This feature evolved from the Flowing Hair Liberty portrait that was featured on Augustin Dupre’s Libertas Americana medal of 1783. Over time Liberty was turned to the right and was shown without the liberty pole and cap. However, the basic idea of Liberty’s hair free flowing is similar to the earlier concept. Above her head is the word LIBERTY, and the date is below. There are fifteen stars in accord with the number of states that made up the Union in 1794, eight to the left and seven to the right.
The reverse, which is similar to the Flowing Hair half-dime and half dollar, shows a perched eagle with wings spread looking to the right. A wreath tied with a bow encircles the eagle. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is in an arc around the eagle. Except for its edge lettering, the coin has no denomination-- something that might appear as a sign of ineptitude on the part of early Mint employees to someone familiar with United States coinage of the 21st century. The omission was intentional, however, as United States coinage was new to the world market of the 18th century and the term “Dollar” would have been unfamiliar to merchants of the day. Like European coinage of the time, silver and gold pieces were valued by their weight and fineness so the denomination was largely irrelevant. Prior to the issuance of silver coinage, only copper coins were made because neither the Chief Coiner, Henry Voigt, nor the Assayer, Albion Cox, could post the $10,000 bond required to be responsible for gold and silver. Thomas Jefferson recommended to President Washington that this bond requirement be reduced. Washington agreed, and in 1794 Scot was able to produce a die for the cent, half dollar, and the dollar coins. Since there was no standardized hubbing, individual punches were used for numbers, letters, the stars, and leaf punches. The edge was lettered HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT with decorative designs in between the words.
Even those 1794 and 1795 Flowing Hair dollars that were acceptable for distribution show many of the difficulties the early United States Mint had with coinage operations. Virtually all of the known examples are softly struck to one degree or another at the left-obverse and –reverse border. This is due to the Mint’s use of a press that was intended for smaller-size coins, as well as the fact that the dies eventually “slipped” and became misaligned in the press. Additionally, many 1794 and 1795 Flowing Hair dollars display adjustment marks that represent the Mint’s filing down of overweight planchets to make them confirm to the legally specified weight range for this issue. While these adjustment marks are often innocuous, as on the present coin, they are sometimes so numerous as to severely compromise one or more elements of a coin’s design.
Before the Revolutionary War, coins from many European nations circulated freely in the American colonies along with decimal coinage issued by the various colonies. Chief among these was the Spanish silver dollar coins (also called pieces of eight or eight reales) minted in Mexico and other colonies with silver mined from Central and South American mines. These coins, along with others of similar size and value, were in use throughout the colonies. They remained legal tender in the United States until 1857. The dollar was intended to replace the Spanish, English, Dutch and French coins that dominated the commerce of the Confederation era. It was authorized on April 2, 1792 in an act that also created the United States Mint and our nation’s coinage. Because it was the Unit, the silver dollar was the most important coin created and the basis of the nation’s monetary system. All other coins struck, and all paper money as well, are either fractional parts or multiples of the dollar, and the Flowing Hair silver dollar was the first one made.
In its population report, NGC shows that they have certified 13 1795 BB-27 Flowing Hair dollars at the XF 40 grade level.
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