There is more than one KING in the World
THE LINK BETWEEN THE
'BRITISH 1663 PETITION CROWN' AND THE 'AMERICAN 1804 $'
THEY ARE THE RAREST AND MOST SOUGHT AFTER WORLD COINS
Images courtesy of Auctions by Bowers and Merena, Inc.
1804 DRAPED BUST SILVER DOLLAR - Class I
The "Watters-Childs" Specimen PCGS Proof-68 (illustrated above).
This remarkable coin sold on August 30, 1999 for an incredible sum £4.14m
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Sultan of Muscat
Charles and Ruth Green
Charles Frederick Childs
The 1804 silver dollar, a United States dollar coin, is one of the rarest and most famous coins in the world, due to its unique history. In 1804, United States Mint records indicate that 19,750 silver dollars were struck. However, in keeping with common Mint practice at the time, these were all minted from old but still-usable dies dated 1803, and are indistinguishable from the coins produced the previous year. 1804-dated silver dollars did not appear until 1834, when the U.S. Department of State was creating sets of coins to present as gifts to certain rulers in Asia in exchange for trade advantages. The U.S. Government ordered the Mint to produce "two specimens of each kind now in use, whether of gold, silver or copper". Since the silver dollar was still in use, but had last been produced in 1804, Mint employees struck several dollars with an 1804 date. Perhaps unknowingly, they therefore created a coin that had not previously existed. They also struck several proof 1804 eagles ($10 gold pieces) about the same time for inclusion in the sets. (The 1804 proof eagles have not attracted the same attention since there are many specimens of the 1804 regular issue eagle. The 1804 eagle is perhaps more provocative than the dollar because it is not the legally defined weight for a gold piece of that value struck in 1834.) The first 1804 silver dollars minted in 1834 were presented as gifts to the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat. These silver dollars are known among numismatists as “original” 1804 dollars. Eight of these coins are known to exist. One currently resides in the Smithsonian Institution, one is in the American Numismatic Association museum, and the other six are in private collections. Between 1858 and 1860, a small number of 1804 silver dollars were illegally struck by an employee of the Mint named Theodore Eckfeldt, and sold to coin collectors through a store in Philadelphia. The number of coins minted is believed to be between ten and fifteen, struck with two separate coin dies, known to numismatists as "Class II" and "Class III" strikes. The illegally minted coins (which are not classified as counterfeit because they were actually produced at the United States Mint) were hunted down and retrieved by officials of the Mint. Most were destroyed. Today, only one Class II coin exists. This unique piece, currently residing at the Smithsonian Institution, appears to have been struck over a Swiss Shooting Thaler . There are six known Class III specimens, which can be distinguished from Class I pieces by their reverse design. Popular legend states that the rare coin given by King Rama IV of Siam to Anna Leonowens, as seen in the story of “Anna and the King of Siam” and the movie The King and I, was indeed the same 1804 silver dollar produced in 1834 as a gift to Siam. This coin was kept in Anna’s family for several generations, until in the 1950s it was sold by a pair of British ladies claiming to be Anna’s descendants. This coin was displayed as part of the “King of Siam” collection at the Smithsonian Institution in 1983, where it was given the name “the King of Coins.” It was purchased by an anonymous collector in 2001, who purchased the entire set of coins from the King of Siam collection for over $4 million. On August 30, 1999, an “original” 1804 silver dollar from the 1834 minting was sold at auction for over $4 million.