When Is A Silver Dollar Worth $2.3 Million?

Last week, an 1804 Adams-Carter Silver dollar sold at auction for a whopping $2.3 million.  That’s a pretty good amount for  1 ounce of silver worth about $12! There are only 15 such coins known to exist and they’re quite popular.

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The buyer was New Jersey dealer John Albanese, who said that the price was “basically a half-million down from last year because of the recession. It was a good opportunity. These don’t come around all the time.” The coin, the finest Class III 1804 dollar outside museums and available to collectors, had been expected to fetch $2 million.

The varieties of 1804 silver dollars are known as Class I, Class II, and Class III. The Class I pieces are sometimes called Originals, although that name is inaccurate, since they were struck in 1834 rather than 1804. The Class II and Class III pieces are sometimes called Restrikes, also an inaccurate name since there were technically no Originals.

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A single obverse die and two reverse dies were created for all of the 1804 dollars, and it is virtually certain that the dies were all made at the same time, certainly no later than 1834. The dies were also produced by the same engraver. The two reverse dies have been designated as Reverse X and Reverse Y, following past literature on the subject.

Assuming these were minted in 1834 and are thus 175 years ago, that means the coin appreciated 8.731% a year. Not a bad rate of return!  Hopefully, someday my collection of Morgan Silver Dollars and Peace Silver Dollars will be worth something too.

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