A 1794 silver dollar, which many experts believe was the first such coin struck by the U.S. Mint, sold for a record $10 million (USD) at auction on Thursday (January 24).
The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar more than doubled the previous $4.1 million record for a coin set in 1999, auction house Stack's Bowers Galleries said.
Legend Numismatics, a rare-coin firm based in New Jersey, bought the coin, which was the highlight of the evening sale in New York that fetched a total of $17.2 million.
"There was applause, the auction stopped for about a half hour. There was congratulations and hollers and handshaking. It was really something, it was an event to be remembered," said David Bowers, chairman emeritus of Stack's Bowers Galleries.
Bowers said the coin has unique features that make it particularly valuable.
"This is the first American dollar, they didn't have paper dollars yet. Someone, we don't know who, set this aside. We believe it's the very first piece struck. Because when a coin is struck the dye, the metal dye that's used to make it tends to deteriorate over a period of time, it shows a little wear. The dye has not deteriorated on this piece. But it's slightly deteriorated on all other pieces. There are 134 known totally," he explained.
The coin was part of the Cardinal Collection, amassed by the collector Martin Logies. Bowers described the collection as the "Old Masters" of coins struck during the earliest years of the U.S. Mint.
"We were hoping that this 1794 silver dollar in virtually perfect condition might break a new record for the world's silver coin, go over $4 million (USD). And we didn't want to talk too loudly, whether it might break the gold record or not - yeah, you don't want to be disappointed. But we just hoped against hope that we would get the silver record. So it went past that, it went past $7 million dollars. Over $10 million dollars, nothing like that had ever been done before. There is no coin in the world, Greek coin, Roman coin," he said.
The $10 million price includes the commission paid to the auction house.