A 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, which was possibly the first of its kind to be struck by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, sold at auction Thursday for a record-breaking $10 million, according to Reuters. This is the first single coin to break the eight-figure threshold and now stands as the world's most valuable coin.
Legend Numismatics, a rare-coin firm based in New Jersey, bought the coin during a spirited bidding war at Stack's Bowers Galleries in New York. The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar crushed the old auction record of $7.59 million (set by a 1933 double eagle in 2002) as well as the private-purchase record of $7.85 million (set by the same 1794 dollar in 2010).
"It's one of the rarest coins in existence," said Laura Sperber, co-partner of Legend Numismatics. "Who knows who could have held this coin? George Washington? Any of the Founding Fathers?"
Experts believe this coin holds special historical value and may have been the first U.S. silver dollar ever struck by the United States Mint. Here's the evidence: 1) The metal was polished before striking. 2) The center plug and scratch marks indicate the coin's weight and composition were being adjusted, a practice typical of a "specimen" coin. 3) The front and back dies align. This is unusual for a 1794 dollar. 4) The coin is extremely well preserved, indicating it was handled with special care. 5) The quality of the "strike" (specifically, the detail in the eagle feathers) is far superior to other 1794 dollars.
The coin shows a profile of Miss Liberty facing right surrounded by stars representing each state in the union. The design was only used in 1794 and briefly the following year.
"We felt in our heart that this would be the very first coin to exceed the $10 million barrier in auction and were, in fact, prepared to bid much high in order to acquire this unique piece of history," Legend Numismatics stated in a press release.