So far I have covered the historical and political context of the 1804 Dollar’s first mintage. Today I will cover Type 2 and Type 3 1804 Dollars
1804 Type 1 Silver Dollars quickly became coveted among the upper sectors of American collectors and they changed hands for stunning prices. Seeing this, Theodore Eckfeldt, nephew of the instrumental Adam Eckfeldt and former mint employee, collaborated with a few other mint workers to make the first restrike, commonly called “Type 2” specimens. Theodore Eckfeldt had been fired from the Mint for stealing coins, but still had connections as his family had been working in the U.S. Mint since its inception. In 1858, a mere 24 years after the original mintage, Eckfeldt used his relationships to smuggle the original 1804 Dollar die and an older proof die out of the mint. He then obtained silver coins, including a 1857 Swiss Shooting Thaler, and struck four 1804 Dollars, commonly known as the “First Restrike,” or “Type 2” 1804 Dollars. Most of these coins were hopelessly light and all didn’t have edge lettering like the “originals.” These coins were then sold to dealers and collectors for $75 a piece, a hefty profit when the average wage was about $8.50 per month, including board. The current director, James Ross Snowden, had asked the Secretary of the Treasury if he could mint official restrikes to sell to collectors; he was denied the privilege. Once Snowden caught rumors of these restrikes he quickly put investigators on the case. Because of one careless confidant, the four coins were tracked down, and the owners reluctantly surrendered the coins. Three were melted, while the fourth, which was an overstruck Swiss Shooting Thaler, was put into the official Mint Cabinet Collection, where it stayed until it was moved to the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian. Unique, this coin would probably set new price records if it came to auction, but this national treasure is not changing hands anytime soon. Surprisingly, Mint Director Snowden didn’t take away the dies, which led to a third type being minted.
Although caught, Eckfeldt and his accomplices continued to risk their careers and forge more of these wildly popular dollars. They learned from their past mistakes and used genuine silver dollar planchets, obtained from an undisclosed source, and lettered the edges very similarly to the originals. However , they still used the same reverse die as the 1804 Type 2 Dollars, as the whereabouts of the original die was unknown. It seems Theodore Eckfeldt sold four of the six coins to dealer John W. Haseltine, and the other two to W. Julius Dreifus and Henry R. Linderman (former Mint Director) respectively. The dies were finally taken away in 1860 by Director Snowden, and his successor destroyed them. These coins are technically rarer than the 1804 Type 1 Dollars, but because they are technically restrike and bear less historical significance the value is smaller. There were more restrikes, made for numismatic deception of as novelty items, but those aren’t considered genuine. As we have finished the production history, there are a few questions that we might be left with, mainly, the legality of private ownership, and the reasons why they are so legendary, which will, hopefully, be coming next week.
Wikipedia. 1804 Dollar.
Yeoman, R. S. A Guide Book of United States Coins. 73th ed.
The Conference on Research in Income and Wealth. Trends in the American Economy in the Nineteenth Century.
PCGS Coinfacts. pcgs.com
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