August 2014 Chicago ANA Lot #13146

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
8/6/2014 4:30:00 PM8/6/2014 11:59:00 PM
  • NGC


Next Bids

Current Bid



$2,232,500.00 with BP

Your Bid



$2,350,000.00 with BP

Reserve Price



$2,585,000.00 with BP

No Reserve

Not Winning

Time Remaining:

Live bidding begins (Pacific Standard Time)

Your Max Bid



1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. Class III Restrike. BB-306. Second Reverse. Proof-55 (NGC).
The King of American Coins
The United States Silver Dollar of 1804

Famous Berg-Garrett Specimen of the 1804 Silver Dollar
In the Garrett Family Collection 1883 to 1942
Class III Circa 1859

Surfaces: The steel gray surfaces exhibit warm lilac and golden gray highlights throughout. Though some light wear is evident on the highest points, it is unlikely this piece ever made it into circulation, raising the possibility that it was skillfully "worked" to simulate light wear, or perhaps it was a pocket piece for some brief span between 1858 (the probable first year of production of the Class III 1804 dollars) and the late 1870s when this specimen first came to the forefront in American numismatic circles. Whatever the circumstances, the surfaces are remarkably well preserved and appealing. The Berg-Garrett 1804 dollar offered here is the Bowers Encyclopedia (1993) plate coin that illustrated the Class III dollars.    

Strike: The strike is similar to that seen on other Class III 1804 dollars, here offering much boldness of detail despite the assigned grade. Liberty's tresses and the eagle's feathering are all appropriately presented, and the overall sharpness easily befits the grade. Additionally, the reverse is noticeably double-struck with the details plainest at the ribbon, the eagle's beak and adjoining star, and the tops of the eagle's wings. There are also signs of doubling on the shield stripes, both vertical and horizontal, and at the berries and branch in the eagle's claw.

Die Variety: BB-306. Second Reverse. Obverse from same die as the Class I 1804 dollars, with light cracks showing a later state than seen in the earliest use of the die. Reverse die with E in STATES over junction between two clouds.

Die State: Bowers Encyclopedia Die State I: "With hairline crack beginning to the left of the top of L in LIBERTY, about 60% of the way toward the nearest upper point of star 7, and in line with the top of the L, extending through LIBER, to top of the left upper serif of T, then at a slight angle toward the border, ending above the junction of the upright of T and its left arm; this crack being that seen on Die State III of the Class I 1804 dollars." The Bowers reference goes on to describe a more advanced die state for the Class III issues, but the present specimen appears to be early in the Class III, Die State I pecking order, as the cracks at LIBERTY are somewhat faint overall.

The Story of the 1804 Silver Dollars     There are rarer coins, but in the federal series there are none that challenge the fame, tradition, and glory given to the 1804 silver dollar over a long period of years. In 1941 B. Max Mehl called it "The King of American Coins," and it still commands that position on the numismatic throne.

Over a long period of years it has been our pleasure to have handled most of the 1804 dollars in existence, from the population of 15 coins totally. Eight Class I dollars are known, one Class II (in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution), and six of the Class III, including the presently offered coin. Each of our past offerings has created a sensation. The ownership of an 1804 dollar places the buyer in a Pantheon of numismatic fame.    

"Three times is a charm" goes the old saying, and for us, the saying never rang more true. This is the third time we've had the honor and distinct pleasure to present the Berg-Garrett 1804 dollar to the collecting public. It first appeared in our sale of Part II of the Garrett Collection in March 1980 -- that was its first appearance in the numismatic marketplace in 97 years! Now this great treasure marks its first appearance in the public eye since Mrs. Laura Sommer added it to her collection in 1986 just after its appearance in our Harry Einstein Collection in June of that year. Now it is 28 years later and the coin returns to thrill yet another generation of collectors.    

Among the great and popular rarities that dot the American numismatic landscape, there is a small group that have been written about time and time again, but deservedly so -- the 1804 dollar, the "King of American Coins," is one of those coins. Indeed, no offering of an 1804 silver dollar would be complete without a background story, as its history is filled with colorful figures and smacks of the inner workings of the Mint in early to mid-19th century America.    

Though Mint records show a mintage for the date of 19,750 pieces, these were all probably dated 1803. It was common practice at the Mint to record annual mintages, but it was also common to use leftover, previously dated dies into the following calendar year, typically until the die steel gave out. The fact that only 15 Draped Bust 1804 dollars have ever come to light since the first notice of them appeared in print in 1842 -- with certain of the others appearing in collections after 1858 -- gives testimony to the unreliability of the 19,750 mintage figure for the calendar year 1804. After 1803, no dated circulation strike silver dollars were forthcoming from the Mint until the limited coinage of 1,000 Gobrecht dollars in 1836; the design type was struck in much smaller numbers in 1838 and 1839. In 1840 the new Liberty Seated design came to fruition, marking the first year in the denomination since 1803 to be struck in quantities large enough to insure universal circulation.    

The story of the 1804 dollar was the subject of much speculation until 1962 when Eric P. Newman and Kenneth E. Bressett's book on the subject was issued by Whitman. In 1999 a detailed study by Q. David Bowers added to the information.    

We now know that on November 11, 1834, the Department of State made a request for special sets of coinage of the realm to be made for presentation purposes to monarchs on the far side of the world. Detailed histories of two deliveries, one to the King of Siam and the other to the Imam of Muscat, are given in the above-mentioned books. It was desired to include one of each authorized denomination: the half cent, cent, half dime, dime, quarter, half dollar, silver dollar, quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle -- which were to be struck in Proof finish for inclusion in the specially made boxed sets. All of these values were being made currently, and thus it was a simple matter to add 1834-dated Proofs. A search of mintage records revealed that silver dollars and eagles had last been minted in 1804. In order to make the sets accurately reflect history, new dies dated 1804 were made for these two coins. Although eagles minted in 1804 were actually dated 1804, in 1834 it was not realized that the dollars minted that year had an earlier date. Thus, in 1834 the first 1804-dated dollars made their debut.    

Two of the gift sets, one boxed in red leather, the other in yellow leather, were delivered by Edmund Roberts, special envoy of President Andrew Jackson. That now known as the King of Siam set, which we offered in October 1987, was presented by Roberts on April 6, 1836. The book The Rare Silver Dollars Dated 1804 and the Exciting Adventures of Edmund Roberts, by Q. David Bowers gives fascinating details of the memorable voyage. These two pieces plus six others make up the entire known population of 1804 Class I silver dollars. Named specimens include the Mint Cabinet specimen; Stickney specimen; King of Siam specimen; Sultan of Muscat specimen; Dexter specimen; Parmelee specimen; Mickley specimen; and the Cohen specimen. Several of the Class I 1804 dollars are permanently impounded in or on loan to museum collections.    

The 1804 dollar was recognized as a prime rarity after Matthew A. Stickney obtained one in trade with the Mint Cabinet in 1843. The reputation and fame spread, creating a great demand that could not be filled unless an owner decided to part with one, which did not happen often.

Enter Mint Director James Ross Snowden, in office since 1853 and an ardent numismatist. In 1859 he was busy collecting tokens and medals of George Washington to add to the Mint Cabinet, specifically for display in the Washington Cabinet to be unveiled on February 22, 1860, the president's birthday. To gain desired pieces and also as an unofficial venture for private profit, Director Snowden restruck many earlier coins, made new rarities in the pattern series, and, important to the present narrative, created at least seven more 1804-dated dollars, an activity that is thought to have commenced in the spring of 1859. The same obverse die used in 1834 to strike the presentation coins was dusted off and used in combination with a reverse of the same design as used earlier, but with slightly different details. One was struck over an 1857-dated Swiss shooting thaler, with traces of the undertype still visible. This is the unique Class II in the Smithsonian. At least six others were struck using regular blank planchets.    

Rather than offer them as Proof coins suitable for a cabinet, in the manner of such restrikes as half cents from the 1840s and silver dollars of 1851 and 1852, Snowden and his allies sought to present these as rare surviving examples of 1804-dated dollars actually struck in 1804. No numismatic research up to that time suggested that such originals were not made. Accordingly, the Class III pieces, as they are now designated, were mixed with other coins or in some manner jostled to give them the appearance of having been lightly circulated -- coins used in commerce since 1804. Most if not all of these were marketed by two Philadelphia dealers with close private connections to the Mint -- William Idler and Capt. John W. Haseltine.    

In time these found their way to leading numismatists, including the presently-offered example to T. Harrison Garrett, who in the late 19th century had the largest coin collection in private hands in America.    

Roster of the Class III 1804 Dollars    

Source: Adapted from The Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars 1794-1804 (2013, Stack's Bowers Galleries) by Q. David Bowers.    

1 - Berg Specimen (this coin). 1859-1872: Believed to have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint during this time period; 1875(?): Captain John W. Haseltine, Philadelphia dealer; 1870s (popularly, 1875): Koch & Co., Vienna; 1876, circa: J.W. Haseltine was a likely "intermediary," although no facts are known. The story goes that Haseltine found it in the possession of Koch & Co., and bought it for his inventory or for the following client; 1876, circa-1883: O.H. Berg, Baltimore, Maryland; 1883, May 23-24: J.W. Haseltine, Berg Collection, lot 568; 1883: George W. Cogan, agent for Thomas Harrison Garrett; 1883-1888: Thomas Harrison Garrett, Baltimore, Maryland; 1888-1919: Thomas Harrison Garrett estate and Robert Garrett; 1919-1942: John Work Garrett, who lived at Evergreen, the home of his father. Evergreen was subsequently given to The Johns Hopkins University; 1942-1980: The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, under the curatorship of Sarah Elizabeth Freeman, Carl W.A. Carlson, and Susan Tripp. The coin was kept at Evergreen for a long period of time, but was later taken with most of the rest of the Garrett Collection to a bank vault in downtown Baltimore for safekeeping; 1980, March 26-27: Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Garrett Collection, lot 698; 1980: The partnership of Pullen & Hanks (William Pullen and Larry Hanks) in combination with Santa ("Sam") Colavita, the latter having a 1/3 interest; 1980-1982: Sam Colavita, New Jersey rare coin dealer, who purchased the interest of Pullen & Hanks on April 17, 1980. For a time it was offered for sale through Texas dealer Ed Hipps; 1982, February 6: Pullen & Hanks, Long Beach Collector Series I Sale, Long Beach, lot 1076, but not sold; 1982: Owned by Sam Colavita, but continued on consignment with Pullen & Hanks, who in the same year transmitted it by private treaty to the following; 1982-1984: Mike Levinson, Houston, Texas, who traded eight acres of land in El Paso, Texas, for it; 1984-1986: Pennsylvania private collection; 1986, June 24-25: Included as an added consignment in the Harry Einstein Sale, Bowers and Merena, lot 1736; 1986: Rarities Group, Inc. (Martin B. Paul); 1986, November: American Coin Portfolios (Dan Drykerman), agent for the following; 1986 to date: Private New York state collector, Mrs. Laura Sommer; Accompanied by Martin Logies and Melissa Karstedt, Mrs. Sommer delivered this specimen to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation January 2005, at which time it was encapsulated as PR-55 (NGC). Subsequently traded to a private Southern California collector. 402.8 grains. Edge lettering blundered and doubled in areas. Double struck on reverse. Reverse slightly rotated (0 in date is aligned with the second T in STATES).

2 - Adams Specimen. 1859-1872: Believed to have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint during this time period; 1875-1876: Captain John W. Haseltine, Philadelphia dealer; 1876, January: "The first time Haseltine exhibited this coin was while waiting for the beginning of the sale of the Jewett collection in New York City, January 24-28, 1876. He offered this coin for $600 and said that it came from an old collection in England."; 1876, March 30: J.W. Haseltine, "Centennial Coin and Curiosity Sale" I, lot 194. Haseltine himself seems to have been the buyer (bidding on his own coin); 1876: Remained in the possession of J.W. Haseltine; 1876-circa 1880: Phineas Adams, Manchester, New Hampshire; 1880, circa: Henry Ahlborn, Boston coin dealer; 1880-1913: John P. Lyman, Boston, Massachusetts, who bought this as part of a "full set of dollars." Consigned with the rest of his collection to the following; 1913, November 7: S. Hudson Chapman, Lyman Collection, lot 16; 1913-1932: Waldo C. Newcomer, Baltimore, Maryland. Displayed at the American Numismatic Society, 1914, and illustrated on Plate 17 of the catalog titled Exhibition of United States and Colonial Coins, January 17th to February 18, 1914; 1932: B. Max Mehl, on consignment from Newcomer; 1932-1936: Col. Edward H.R. Green; 1936-1943, circa: Col. Green estate. As of March 1943, the 1804 dollar was still in the Green estate, which was being administered by the Chase National Bank, New York City; 1943, circa-1946: A.J. Allen, Plainfield, New Jersey, for a reported $3,200; 1946: Frederick C.C. Boyd, East Orange, New Jersey. Boyd must have acquired it for the satisfaction of having owned this famous rarity, holding it but briefly after which he put it up for sale; 1946: Numismatic Gallery (Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg), on consignment from Boyd; 1946-1949: Percy A. Smith, Portland, Oregon. Sold privately to the following; 1949-1950: B. Max Mehl, who had it in his inventory by October 1949; 1950, May 23: B. Max Mehl, Golden Jubilee Sale (Jerome Kern and other collections), lot 804; 1950s: Amon G. Carter, Sr., Fort Worth, Texas; 1950s-1982: Amon G. Carter, Jr.; 1982-1984: Amon G. Carter, Jr. family; 1984, January 18-21: Stack's, Carter Collection, lot 241; 1984: John Nelson Rowe III, agent for the following; 1984-1989: L.R. French, Jr., Texas numismatist; 1989, January 18: Stack's, L.R. French, Jr. Family Collection, lot 15; 1989: Rarities Group, Inc. (Martin B. Paul); 1989: National Gold Exchange (Mark Yaffe), Tampa, Florida; 1989: Heritage Rare Coin Galleries; 1989-November 1993: Indianapolis collection. In May 1992, the owner commissioned Farmington Valley Rare Coin Co, New Hartford, Connecticut (Tony Scirpo, owner), to find a buyer. At this time the coin was certified as EF-45 by PCGS; 1993, November: Acquired by a private buyer. Midwest collection; 1998: David Liljestrand; 1998: National Gold Exchange and Kenneth Goldman; 1998: Legend Numismatics, Inc. (Laura Sperber); Private collection; EF-45 (PCGS) per earlier listings; later regraded. 416.25 grains. Edge lettering fairly sharp. 0 in date aligned with the second T in STATES. Currently graded Proof-58 (PCGS). 

3 - Davis specimen. 1859-1872: Believed to have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint during this time period; 1870s: Probably somewhere in Philadelphia, perhaps in the custody of J.W. Haseltine (a conjecture); 1877, October 23: William E. Dubois, curator of the Mint Cabinet, sold this coin through J.W. Haseltine, this being the date of Haseltine's invoice; 1877-1883: Robert Coulton Davis, Philadelphia pharmacist and numismatic scholar; 1883: Capt. John W. Haseltine; 1883-1888: George M. Klein, Vicksburg, Mississippi; 1888, May 21-25: W. Elliot Woodward, 95th sale, Vicksburg Collection (Klein Collection) Part I, lot 1940; 1888: J. Colvin Randall, agent for Robert Coulton Davis (who had owned the coin earlier); 1888: Robert Coulton Davis; 1888-1890: Robert Coulton Davis estate; 1890: Capt. John W. Haseltine; 1890-1897: John M. Hale, Philipsburg, Pennsylvania; 1897-1950: John M. Hale family; 1950: R.H. Mull, Philipsburg, Pennsylvania; 1950, May 11: Parke-Bernet Galleries, catalog of the George Singer Collection (gold and enamel boxes, etc.). Cataloged by Charles M. Wormser. The silver dollar was offered as lot 221, "The lot is the property of Mr. R.H. Mull of Philipsburg, Pennsylvania."; 1950: Mrs. Fullerton, agent for her father, Henry P. Graves; 1950-1952: Henry P. Graves; 1952-1954: Henry P. Graves estate; 1954, April 8-10: Stack's, Davis-Graves Sale, lot 1333; 1954-1960: Ben H. Koenig, New York numismatist; 1960, December 10: Stack's, Fairbanks (Koenig) Collection, lot 576. Sold to the following; 1960-1963: Samuel Wolfson, Jacksonville, Florida; 1963, May 3: Stack's, Wolfson Collection Sale, lot 1394; 1963-1971: Norton Simon, California entrepreneur, sold by private treaty via Stack's to the following; 1971, November 21, onward: James H.T. McConnell, Jr.; EF-40. 415.9 grains. Edge lettering doubled and blundered in places. 0 in date aligned with the second T in STATES. 

4 - Linderman specimen. 1859-1872: Believed to have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint during this time period; 1870s-1879: Mint Director Henry R. Linderman, who may have been present at its creation. As might be expected, this specimen was not artificially worn. It was kept with its original Proof surface (as was just one other, under somewhat similar circumstances; see the Idler specimen below). Linderman died on January 27, 1879; 1879-1888: Linderman estate; 1887, June 28: Lyman H. Low, cataloger of the Linderman Collection offered via a catalog bearing this date. However, the entire collection was withdrawn due to a pending federal inquiry as to the legality of certain coins within. The catalog is the same as published by J.W. Scott, February 28, 1888 (see below), by which time Low was a Scott employee; 1887, July 1: Emily Linderman, widow of the late Mint director, swore an affidavit concerning the 1804, noting, in part: "The said Dr. Linderman told deponent that he had obtained the 1804 dollar in his collection, that it was an original, that it was of great rarity, there only having been twelve or fourteen struck, that it was one of the finest, if not the finest specimen in existence, that he had paid for it in installments, not feeling able to pay for it all at one time." Mrs. Linderman may not have been aware that this was a lie; 1888, February 28: J.W. Scott, Linderman Collection, lot 40. "A beautiful sharp Proof... The finest known specimen of this valuable coin. This piece has the advantage over the few existing specimens, in being the property of the late director of the Mint, Dr. Linderman, which alone is a guarantee of its being struck in the U.S. Mint. It is from the same dies as that in the Mint cabinet." Of course, this statement is quite curious, as widow Emily Linderman had sworn that her husband had bought it "in installments," obviously trying to give the impression that at the time it had come from someone outside of the Mint! This catalog is essentially the same as the Lyman H. Low catalog of June 28, 1887, described above, except now certain items have been withdrawn; 1888-1910: James Ten Eyck, Albany, New York; 1910-1922: James Ten Eyck estate; 1922, May 2: B. Max Mehl, Ten Eyck Collection, lot 394. Called a restrike by Mehl, but accompanied by the 1887 affidavit from Dr. Linderman's widow Emily stating that it was an original; 1922-1952: Lammot DuPont, Wilmington, Delaware; 1952-1994: Willis H. du Pont, although for half of this period the coin was not in du Pont's possession, having been stolen in an armed robbery at the du Pont home in Florida, October 5, 1967. In May 1981, Mark Koenigsberg, of the El Paso, Texas, firm of Pullen & Hanks, received a telephone call from a woman who stated she had an 1804 dollar. This set into motion a sequence of events, in which the American Numismatic Association Certification Service played a central part, which resulted in the recovery of the coin on March 16, 1982; 1982-1994: On loan exhibit to the American Numismatic Association Museum, Colorado Springs; 1994 to date: Donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1994; Proof-63. 413.52 grains. Blundered edge lettering.

5 - Driefus-Rosenthal specimen.     1859-1872: Believed to have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint during this time period; 1870s-1893: Location unknown. Said to have been owned by a freed slave and his son, probably just a nice story (see February 15, 1894, account below); 1893: W. Julius Driefus, Alexandria, Virginia; 1893-1894: Isaac Rosenthal, Philadelphia scrap iron dealer; 1894, February 15: Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Oliver C. Bosbyshell, agent for Col. Ellsworth. A letter stating that it was genuine was signed by Bosbyshell, Mint Cabinet curator R.A. McClure, and, for good measure, Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber (none of whom had any more than light numismatic credentials). "This dollar has been subjected to the most severe scrutiny in the Mint, and all of [the] experts are entirely satisfied that it is [a] genuine dollar struck in the year 1804..." A letter of the same date from Bosbyshell to Ellsworth told this: "The 1804 Silver Dollar purchased by me for you today, from W. Isaac Rosenthal of 190 Berks Street, this City, came into his possession in the following manner: A Mr. Julius Driefus, Nos. 3 & 4 South Wharves, Alexandria, Va., does business for Mr. Rosenthal, and borrowed money from him. Mr. Driefus met with a colored man who had the dollar for forty years -- that he received it from his father, who was a freedman -- the father kept the dollar because it either was the date of his birth, or the date he became a freedman -- Mr. Rosenthal cannot remember which. I am promised a more circumstantial account, and will transmit it to you as soon as I receive it..."; 1894-1923: Col. James W. Ellsworth. Displayed at the American Numismatic Society, 1914, and illustrated on Plate 17 of the catalog titled Exhibition of United States and Colonial Coins, January 17th to February 18, 1914; 1923: Wayte Raymond and John Work Garrett via Knoedler & Co.; 1923-1924: Wayte Raymond and John Work Garrett; 1924: Guttag Brothers, agent for Farran Zerbe; 1924-1928: Farran Zerbe, Money of the World exhibit, which was displayed widely, primarily in bank lobbies; 1928-1978: Chase National Bank Collection, which became known as the Chase Bank Money Museum, in later times as the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum. Curators included Vernon L. Brown, Don Taxay, Caroline Harris, and Gene Hessler; 1978 to date: American Numismatic Society; In February 1978, The Numismatist reported: "The American Numismatic Society, one of the largest coin museums in the world, has acquired its first example of the rare U.S. '1804 Dollar' from the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Collection through a special loan/gift arrangement. Silver dollars dated 1804 are one of the most publicized and sought after rarities in the United States series. No genuine coins of this type are known -- all were created surreptitiously by U.S. Mint employees in 1834 and again in 1858. The specimen, now at ANS Headquarters, was made in 1858 and first appeared in 1894, accompanied by a document attesting to its genuineness as an issue struck in 1804, signed by the then Mint superintendent, O.C. Bosbyshell; C.E. Barber, engraver of the Mint; and R.A. McClure, Curator of the Mint Numismatic Collection. This document, acquired with the coin by the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Collection, accompanies the dollar. Under the terms of the loan/gift arrangement, the Chase Manhattan Bank has placed its entire interest in the coin with the ANS for a period of 10 years with the expressed intention, by resolution of the board of directors, to donate the specimen to the ANS by the end of the loan period. In announcing this agreement, David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, said, 'I am personally very pleased that a portion of our coin collection will be transferred to the ANS.' Along with the '1804 Dollar,' the ANS has received a choice collection of coins and paper money from the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum, including one of two known examples of the 1792 quarter-dollar pattern, struck in white metal. The value of the specimens involved in this loan/gift arrangement is in excess of $200,000."; EF, some nicks. Weight 415.48 grains. Edge lettering blundered and doubled in places. 0 in date aligned with the second T in STATES.

6 - Idler specimen. 1859-1872: Believed to have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint during this time period; 1870s: Collection of William K. Idler, Philadelphia; 1870s-1907: Captain John W. Haseltine, Philadelphia dealer. Kept for many years, this was "his" specimen. Appropriate to the situation, this specimen was not artificially worn, but was retained with its original Proof finish; 1907-1908: Capt. John W. Haseltine and his protege and partner, Stephen K. Nagy. Billed as the Idler specimen, after Haseltine's father-in-law, William K. Idler; 1908-?: Henry O. Granberg, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Displayed at the American Numismatic Society, 1914, and illustrated on Plate 17 of the catalog titled Exhibition of United States and Colonial Coins, January 17th to February 18, 1914. (On July 14, 1913, another "1804" dollar owned by Granberg, this one a fake, was featured in an auction sale by B. Max Mehl, but withdrawn, only to reappear in print in The Numismatist in 1937, then to disappear again.); 1909, April: J.W. Haseltine's article, "Interesting Facts Regarding the 1804 Dollar" was published in Mehl's Numismatic Monthly, April 1909, and adapted from a letter written by Haseltine to H.O. Granberg, October 19, 1908; Excerpts: "Complying with your request, I will state that the 1804 dollar that you have, came from the collection of the late Wm. Idler of this city. It not having been known to collectors previously is not strange that knew him. He was a very reticent man and never cared to tell anyone about this collection or to show it, even to his own sons. It is a genuine silver dollar of that date, struck at the United States Mint, the obverse from the same die all the others known were struck from. There are several varieties of reverse to the 1804 dollar, but no variety of obverse... About the Idler dollar, the mere fact that it has not so even of a surface, being slightly convex on one side, and concave on the other, is greatly in its favor, as it only carries out the fact that they were not so particular in early times how they struck the coins, and I think it was owing to the planchet being a trifle too broad for the collar. It is exactly the same obverse as the one at the U.S. Mint. There is positively no authority or data known for anyone to state that there were any re-strikes of this dollar, excepting the ones with the plain edge... There is no authority for the statement that the Berg dollar was struck between 1860 and 1869, and I defy anyone to give any proof of it. Forty years ago I knew that Mr. Idler had an 1804 dollar, and he bound me to secrecy in reference to it, as he made his electrotypes from it; Mr. Chapman classifies the Davis dollar as 'one of the originals.' It carries with it a certificate from the U.S. Mint to that effect. He says that he does not know where it is, but I do. I sold it originally to Mr. Davis, and my recollection of it is that it is identical with the Idler dollar. The weight of the Cohn [sic] dollar is 410 1/4 grains. The weight of the Idler dollar is 411 and fraction grains. Restrike, plain edge, 381 and 5/8 grains... Do not pay any attention to anyone calling the Idler dollar 'bogus' or 'fake' or insinuating that it is not from the 1804 dollar dies... Now in closing I will stake my reputation that the Idler 1804 dollar is a genuine and original 1804 dollar struck from the dies at the United States Mint. Yours truly, JOHN W. HASELTINE."; ?-1940: William Cutler Atwater, New York City; 1940-1946: William Cutler Atwater estate; 1946, June 11: B. Max Mehl, Atwater Collection, lot 214. The Atwater Collection sale included examples of the Class I and Class III 1804 dollars; 1946-1947: Will W. Neil; 1947, June 17: B. Max Mehl, Neil Collection, lot 31; 1947-1972: Edwin Hydeman, York, PA, merchant; owner of Wiest's Department Store; 1961, March 3-4: Abe Kosoff, Edwin Hydeman Collection, lot 994; bought back by the consignor, although publicity was given out that the coin had sold for $29,000. The catalog included this information: "It is worthy to note that we have had the Hydeman Collection in our hands for some time. During this period negotiations were in progress, which if successful, would have transferred the entire collection into new hands. It was while negotiations were proceeding, that this cataloger was approached with an offer of $50,000 for the Idler 1804 dollar. Of course, we had not authorization to sell one coin, nor could we jeopardize the negotiations. Several other serious collectors inquired about the possibility of negotiating for this rarity and, in each instance, we were forced to discourage further pursuit along these lines. Now, of course, the coin is on the block..."; 1961-1972: On consignment to Abe Kosoff, or perhaps bought by him at the 1961 sale. Included in Illustrated History of U.S. Coinage, 1962, fixed price list, lot 45b. Advertised by Kosoff in The Numismatist, January 1972. This offering consisted of items from the Dr. J. Hewitt Judd Collection plus recent additions from other sources; 1972: World-Wide Coin Investments, Ltd., Atlanta, John B. Hamrick, Jr., and Warren E. Tucker. Sold by private treaty to the following; 1972-1974: Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Inc. acquired the specimen in October 1972. First offered for sale in Rare Coin Review No. 19; 1974: Continental Coin Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Kent M. Froseth and Chuck Parrish); 1974-1979: Mark Blackburn. Subsequently offered for sale by Continental Coin Galleries, which had owned it earlier. "[The specimen was] later rumored to have gone to the Swiss Bank Corporation in Zurich."; 1979: Larry Demerer, professional numismatist; 1979, February: Superior Galleries, agent for Dr. Jerry Buss, Los Angeles sports team owner; 1979-1985: Dr. Jerry Buss. Acquired the coin in February 1979; 1985, January 28-30: Superior Galleries, Buss Collection, lot 1337; 1985-1991: Aubrey and Adeline Bebee, Omaha, Nebraska; 1985-1991: On loan to the American Numismatic Association. Subsequently donated by Mr. and Mrs. Bebee; 1991 to date: American Numismatic Association Museum, Colorado Springs; Proof-62. 411 grains. Rust on eagle's head. Weakly struck at centers. Sharpest edge lettering of any 1804 dollar (per Newman-Bressett).    

T. Harrison Garrett    

Biographical notes relating to one of the presently offered coin's most famous owners may be of interest:    

Thomas Harrison Garrett began his collecting interest as a student at Princeton in the 1860s, with a New Jersey copper being among his first acquisitions. A man from the wealthy family that controlled the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, he eagerly collected books, autographs, prints, and other items, including a double elephant folio set of Audubon prints, keeping and enjoying them at Evergreen House on North Charles Street in Baltimore.     In the 1880s he was especially active, with Baltimore dentist and rare coin dealer Dr. George Massamore representing him at sales under various pseudonyms including "Hotchkiss," "South," and "Harrison." Many collectors, particularly advanced ones, kept knowledge of their holdings and their needs a secret, thus hoping to acquire desired pieces at a lower price than would be the case if it had been known that they were missing from their cabinets. In 1885, his collection, which by that time had an 1804 dollar and the unique hallmark-on-breast 1787 Brasher doubloon, was considered to be second in importance only to that of Lorin G. Parmelee. In actuality, Garrett's collection was much broader and included world and ancient coins as well as tokens and medals, while Parmelee mainly concentrated on obtaining one of each date (but not mintmark varieties) of federal coinage. In the same year he acquired en bloc the James L. Claghorn collection of over 30,000 prints, paying the then remarkable figure of $150,000 for it. Parmelee publicized and shared his holdings with others, while Garrett collected quietly. The true extent of his collection was not known to his contemporaries.    

In 1888, Garrett died in a boating accident in Chesapeake Bay, thus cutting short the career of a remarkable numismatist and leaving a family to mourn his passing. His collection passed to one of his sons, Robert, who in 1919 traded it to another son, John Work Garrett. As noted above, the collection passed to The Johns Hopkins University. One of the greatest numismatic events of all time was our offering of the Garrett Collection at auction in a series of four sales from 1979 to 1981.    

Concluding Remarks    

The present offering of the "King of American Coins" is an event that will create great excitement among those who attend the sale in person, and the thrill will no doubt extend to all who follow the action on the Internet site. In our experience, sometimes the excitement at an auction gathering is so palpable it can nearly be felt, and we expect it will feel like that in the auction room when the Berg-Garrett 1804 dollar comes up for sale. There are just a  handful of collectors who have the ability to purchase an 1804 dollar, and there are no doubt a handful of dealers as well who will show an interest in owning the present rarity. Once sold, this coin will probably reside for another generation or so with its next numismatic steward, where it will remain a focal point, a piece of great rarity with an interesting story to tell, and a prize that will forever be cherished as a piece of numismatic history. Its owner will become a part of numismatic history and tradition as well.

PCGS# 6908.
Pedigree: Pedigree: See above.

Click here for PCGS


Lot Selection
  • Lot 13144

    1802 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. BB-241, B-6. Rarity-1. BB Die State III. AU-58 (PCGS). CAC.

    Current Bid: 15001.00

    1802 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. BB-241, B-6. Rarity-1. BB Die State III. AU-58 (PCGS). CAC.

  • Lot 13145

    1803 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. BB-255, B-6. Rarity-2. BB Die State II. Large 3. AU-55 (PCGS). Secure Holder.

    Current Bid: 8750.00

    1803 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. BB-255, B-6. Rarity-2. BB Die State II. Large 3. AU-55 (PCGS). Secure Holder.

  • Lot 13146

    1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. Class III Restrike. BB-306. Second Reverse. Proof-55 (NGC).

    Current Bid: 1600000.00

    1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. Class III Restrike. BB-306. Second Reverse. Proof-55 (NGC).

  • Lot 13147

    Custom Presentation Case that Once Housed the Stickney Specimen of the 1804 Class I Draped Bust Silver Dollar. 70 x 65 x 25 mm (greatest dimensions). Fine.

    Current Bid: 2000.00

    Custom Presentation Case that Once Housed the Stickney Specimen of the 1804 Class I Draped Bust Silver Dollar. 70 x 65 x 25 mm (greatest dimensions). Fine.

  • Lot 13148

    1839 Gobrecht Silver Dollar. Name Removed. Judd-104 Original, Pollock-116. Rarity-3. Dannreuther Reverse Die State b. Silver. Reeded Edge. Die Alignment IV. Proof-45 (PCGS). CAC.

    Current Bid: 22000.00

    1839 Gobrecht Silver Dollar. Name Removed. Judd-104 Original, Pollock-116. Rarity-3. Dannreuther Reverse Die State b. Silver. Reeded Edge. Die Alignment IV. Proof-45 (PCGS). CAC.

  • Lot 13149

    1849 Liberty Seated Silver Dollar. MS-64+ (PCGS). CAC.

    Current Bid: 25000.00

    1849 Liberty Seated Silver Dollar. MS-64+ (PCGS). CAC.