Controversial 1804 Dollar
One of the most talked-about and sought-after, hence one of the most expensive silver coins is the controversial 1804 Silver Dollar coin. This particular set of coins has become famous and controversial due to its peculiar and colorful history. I know we would all agree that rarity and uniqueness are major qualities that greatly add beauty and mystery to any collectible item. And these are just what the 1804 Silver Dollar coins have over other more common silver coins.
To start with, the 1804 Silver Dollar coins were not really minted during that year. Coins minted in 1804 actually bore the date of 1803 because the government reused old dies from that previous year. Silver coins bearing the year 1804 were not struck until the year 1834. Secondly, 1804 Silver coins were not meant to be circulated. They were specifically and specially created as gifts. In 1834, the U.S. Department of State created the first set of 1804 Silver Dollar Coins with the purpose of giving them away to certain Asian rulers as gifts. The government presented these gifts with the hope of gaining trading advantages with the rulers. There are seven of these coins in existence and they constitute the Class I, or the originals, of 1804 Silver Dollar Coins. One was given to the King of Siam, King Rama III; another one was given to the Sultan of Oman and Muscat, Said Bin Sultan; and one was kept at a museum. No one knows exactly what happened to the remaining five silver coins because the then ambassador Edmund Roberts passed away during the expedition.
Then, sometime between the years 1858 and 1860, one Mint employee by the name of Theodore Eckfeld reproduced a couple of sets of 1804 Silver Dollar coins without authorization. Mr. Eckfeld struck these illegal silver coins using improvised dies. The first set, which is said to comprise of around fifteen coins, is known today as the Class II of the 1804 Silver Dollar coins. Mr. Eckfeld sold these to unknowing coin collectors in Philadelphia. Being illegally created, the U.S. government searched and confiscated these coins. Today, only one of these Class II 1804 Silver Coins remains and it’s kept at the Smithsonian Institution.
The second set of illegally struck silver coins is known today as Class III of the 1804 Silver Coins. There are seven of these coins that are known to exist. These coins bear a huge resemblance to the Class I coins and are harder to distinguish, except for a few differences that are invisible to the untrained eye. And unfortunately, they already got into the hands of collectors before the die from which they were struck was confiscated in 1860 by the director of Mint, Mr. James Ross Snowden.