A Rare U.S. Silver 1794 Flowing Hair dollar recently sold for a record $10 million in January of 2013, which eclipsed the former record for a single coin auctioned by more than $2 million. The price could well have gone higher as the winning bidder at the New York auction was ready to pay up to $15 million.
Many rumors surround the Flowing Hair silver dollar such as; it was Martha Washington herself who posed for the lady with the flowing hair – or that George Washington donated a set of his personal silverware for the minting of these coins.
What we do know is that this coin was among the first dollar coins circulated by the U.S. Mint as well as it is thought to be the first ever struck. In talking about the rarity of the coin, the buyer said “George Washington could have held it.”
Another coin, a rare 1792 Half Disme fetched $1.41 million also in January of 2013 in Orlando, Florida. One of the earliest records we have of the disme comes from a document penned by Thomas Jefferson where he notes these coins have an original population of 1,500 to 2,000 of which it is estimated only 250 remain.
The term disme was pronounced “deem” and although it originates from an ancient Anglo-French term meaning one tenth, it has evolved to our present pronunciation of “dime”. Its peculiar spelling is noted in the Coinage Act of 1792 and sets value at 1/10 dollar.
In 1792, a relatively small number of dismes were minted but were not released for circulation. Some of these were struck in copper, which shows that the 1792 dismes were what is known as “pattern coins” (not approved for release). It was not until 1796 when the first dimes minted were released that the public saw any of this rare U.S. silver.