You might have heard in the news recently that the world’s most expensive coin is due to be sold at auction next month.

The 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar is believed to be the first silver dollar to be struck by the US Mint. It was last for sale in 2013 and was auctioned for just over $10 Million Dollars, making it the most expensive coin in the world.

Flowing hair dollar - Five things you need to know about the world’s most expensive coin…
The Flowing Hair Dollar Obverse. Image credit: the National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History

The First US Dollar

In 1792, the US Congress issued an act stating that the Dollar was to be the cornerstone of US coinage. It was to be based on the Spanish Silver Dollar which was already widely used throughout the Americas. The act also stated that coins should include a symbol of Lady Liberty as well as an eagle – two icons that remain today on many US coins.

Where the nickname came from

The coin was designed by Robert Scot, who was Chief Engraver at the US Mint. His take on the bust of Liberty is what gave rise to the nickname of the coin with its detailed hair ‘flowing’ from the head of Lady Liberty. There are also fifteen stars on the coin, to represent each of the 15 states that had ratified the Constitution.

Was it just a PR stunt?

It’s thought that because the US was still struggling from the impact of the War of Independence it didn’t have access to much silver and other precious metals. Historians have argued that the introduction of a silver dollar was a way to showcase the power and capability of the US.

Flowing hair dollar reverse - Five things you need to know about the world’s most expensive coin…
The Flowing Hair Dollar Reverse. Image credit: the National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History

Very few of the 1794 Dollars were issued but they weren’t released into general circulation. They were mostly given to international VIPs or important congressmen, further adding fuel to the rumours that the Dollar was originally issued as part of a PR stunt.

Struck on just one day in October

Only 1,758 of these coins were struck, and according to the National Museum of American History, they were all minted on the same day. It’s thought that of this tiny number, less than 150 still survive today. Many would have been hidden forever, or melted down for their precious metal content, adding to the coin’s collectability.

It’s given rise to one of the most competitive collecting markets worldwide…

Eight of the top ten most expensive coins are US coins and the market is one of the most competitive around the world. Whether it’s the Coin of the Cowboys, the Mercury Dime, or even the first Half Dollar to feature a non-president, US coins have some of the most collectable stories attached to them. It’s hardly surprising that many collectors are looking to source American coins for their collection these days.

The Flowing Hair Dollar is due to be sold on October 8th 2020. How much do you think it will sell for this time? Let us know in the comments below!


iconic coins of america collection box with cert 300x208 - Five things you need to know about the world’s most expensive coin…

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A 5 cent American coin with a fascinating story dating back one hundred years is due to go down in the history books as one of the highest amounts ever paid for a US coin when it goes up for auction in Chicago on April 25th.

liberty nickel head - Rare US Coin, once thought a fake, could fetch $5m at auction

Experts believe bidding for the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel could top $5m due to the fact it’s one of only five known to exist and the remarkable story behind it.

Ill-gotten gains

It’s thought the Liberty Head is one of five bogus coins struck in secret at the end of 1912 by Philadelphia Mint employee Samuel Brown who altered the year on the die to say 1913, the year the Buffalo Nickel was introduced.

Pulled from the wreckage

Brown was rewarded handsomely for his efforts. He sold one of his ‘illegal’ Liberty Heads to a collector from North Carolina, George Walton, in the mid 1940s and made a reported $3,750. But events took another unexpected twist when Walton – and his coin – were involved in a car crash in 1962. Walton himself didn’t survive but his nickel did.

Declared a fake

But the story doesn’t end there. Recovered from the wreckage and passed to Walton’s sister Melva Givens, the coin was declared a fake because the date had been tampered with. Rather than throwing it away, Mrs Givens stuck it in an envelope in a bedroom closet where it remained undiscovered until her death thirty years later.

The missing fifth Liberty Nickel

It wasn’t until 2003 that experts at the World Numismatic Fair in Baltimore finally confirmed the ‘Walton’ Nickel was genuine and it was reunited with the other four coins. It is currently on loan to the Colorado Springs Museum.

A 1933 Double Eagle currently holds the US record when it was sold at auction for a cool $8m.

View The Westminster Collection’s full range of American coins.