Auction recap: Early U.S. Mint coins highlight recent Heritage sale

All prices realized include a 17.5 per cent buyer’s premium.

Three coins from the earliest days of the U.S. Mint highlighted Heritage Auction’s Oct. 3-5 U.S. Coins Signature Auction, which realized a total of $8.5 million USD (about $11.3 million Cdn.).

The top lot of this auction, held in Dallas, Texas, was Lot 3185, a 1794 silver dollar graded Very Fine-25 by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). It realized $146,875 USD (nearly $196,000 Cdn.).

This silver dollar was Lot 583 of Steve Ivy’s first public auction, the Gateway Sale, in August 1976.

“This example is the usual middle die state that Martin Logies identifies as Die State III in his book, The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794. There is evidence of die lapping on the obverse with no visible clash marks,” reads the auction catalogue. “Reverse clash marks are not readily apparent on this example, with no indication of die lapping.”

With a low mintage of 1,758 coins, the 1794 dollar was the very first silver dollar issued by the U.S. Mint.

According to auctioneers, “Multitudes of silver dollar collectors desire an example to cap off their collections.”


Two 18th-century U.S. gold coins also highlight the sale: a 1796 Quarter Eagle with no stars on the obverse and in PCGS Extremely Fine-45; and a 1797 Eagle with Large Eagle Reverse in Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) Mint State(MS)-62.

The first example – Lot 3264 – is from the first year the denomination was issued, 1796. It’s notable for its lack of stars on the obverse (again, this was the only year this obverse was used). It realized $79,312 USD.

The year 1796 is considered one of the most crucial years of the fledging Philadelphia Mint. Its first director, David Rittenhouse, died on June 26, 1796, at the age of 64, having established and led the institution for about three years before resigning in June 1795 because of ill health. Two future U.S. numismatic figures (Col. Mendes Cohen and Charles Cushing Wright) were also born during that year, and at the Mint, a number of one-year rarities were being created.


Lot 3264 was this 1796 Quarter Eagle that realized $79,312 USD. Note the lack of stars on the obverse.

“Equally important to understanding American numismatics in 1796 is the realization that this was the first year that the Mint struck every authorized denomination, including two copper denominations, five silver issues, and the gold quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle,” reads the auction catalogue. “Many of those issues are today rarities, if not outright keys to their respective series.”

The second example – Lot 3321 – represents the first year the familiar Heraldic Eagle was used for this denomination. At a grade as high as MS62, as graded by NGC, this coin is highly sought-after, as evidenced by the $82,250 paid to acquire it in this auction.


Among the notable coins in this auction minted after the 18th century was Lot 3107, a 1926-D quarter, graded MS-66 Full Head by PCGS. The 1926-D quarter is famously known as one of the most poorly struck dates in the Standing Liberty quarter series, “surpassed perhaps only by the 1918/7-S, which is never seen sharp,” according to auctioneers. This example realized $88,125 USD when it crossed the block in Dallas earlier this month.

The next Heritage auction is slated for Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in New York.

For more information or to enter a bid for Auction No. 1241, visit

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