Rare silver dollar expected to top $2m at auction

By Calvin Palmer

A rare silver dollar is expected to fetch more than $2 million when it goes up for auction this week in Cincinnati.

The 1804 Adams-Carter silver dollar is one of only 15 known to exist from a never-circulated group made for the likes of the King of Siam and Sultan of Muscat. Two years ago it sold for $2 million in a private sale.

The coin has been owned by a Boston banker, a Texas oilman and publishing baron and a collector who sold everything to build a church school in Ohio.

The auction, on Thursday evening, will be the highlight of the Central States Numismatic Society Convention that runs Wednesday through Saturday.

Beth Deisher, editor of Coin World magazine, suggested the valuable coin may not be seen in public for another 50 years.

“It’s a rare coin that has a great story,” she said.

Coin Values magazine rates the 1804 Adams-Carter silver dollar as the seventh most valuable coin in the world. The most valuable is a 1933 $20 double eagle that sold for $7.6 million in 2002.

Only 15 of the 1804 silver dollars are known to have been struck, and coin enthusiasts can account for every one of them. Six are held by museums.

The coins were never circulated and were not actually struck in 1804 — the date refers to the year after the U.S. Mint stopped making silver dollars. The front of the coin shows a bust of Lady Liberty in profile, the reverse a version of the Great Seal of the United States.

Eight of the coins were ordered struck by the U.S. Department of State in 1834 to be given to foreign heads of state, including the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat. One specimen was made in 1857. The other six, including the Adams-Carter dollar, were made sometime after that — possibly illegally by a mint employee.

The one being auctioned is named for 19th century collector Phineas Adams, an early owner, and Amon Carter Sr., a later owner, Texas oilman, entrepreneur and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

In November 2001, Phillip Flannagan donated the coin to raise money for the building fund at Middletown Christian School, north of Cincinnati. It brought $874,000 at auction.

The name of the current owner is closely guarded. Heritage Auction Galleries identifies him only as an East Coast collector.

[Based on a report by newsday.com.]

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