Financial History 143 Fall 2022 - Page 32

Mintages of US Silver Dollars ( 1794 – 1803 ) and Survival Rates
Year / Type
Original Mintage
Approximate Survivors
1794 Flowing Hair
1,758
150
1795 Flowing Hair
160,295
4,100
1795 Draped Bust
42,738
1,400
1796 Draped Bust
79,920
1,400
1797 Draped Bust
7,776
1,600
1798 Draped Bust
327,536 *
5,000
1799 Draped Bust
423,515 *
6,500
1800 Draped Bust
220,920 *
2,300
1801 Draped Bust
54,454
980
1802 Draped Bust
41,650
990
1803 Draped Bust
85,634
1,600
TOTALS
1,446,196
26,020
Mint Director David Rittenhouse , who , in concert with Mint Assayer Albion Cox , surreptitiously changed the fineness of silver dollars in 1794 and 1795 , which cost bullion depositors extra money .
* Silver dollars for these years ( 1798 – 1800 ) were worth $ 1.03 when they were minted . They most likely bypassed the West Indies and were sent directly into the China trade .
money supply and make available a variety of denominations for everyday business transactions .
With that in mind , Hamilton pored over myriad documents concerning gold and silver valuations in numerous European nations . After countless hours studying those documents and considering the market value of gold and silver in America , he arrived at a 15:1 silver to gold ratio .
The 15:1 ratio that Hamilton included in his Report was enacted as law in the Coinage Act of 1792 and in essence was set in stone . It remained until the Coinage Act of 1834 , when the ratio was changed to 16:1 . However , there was a problem .
Gold coins were undervalued from 1794 to 1834 and , thus , became de facto bullion , resulting in quite a bit of gold vanishing from US shores . An 1819 House committee report states , “ Gold is estimated below its fair relative value , in comparison with silver and … can scarcely be considered as having formed a material part of our money circulation for the last twenty-six years .” In 1821 , another House committee declared , “ On inquiry , they find that gold coins , both foreign and of the United States , have in great measure disappeared .”
Continuing along the same theme , a Senate select committee in 1830 bluntly reported ,
“ We have no gold coins in circulation .” Mint Director Samuel Moore stated in 1832 , “ Gold at present constitutes no part of our currency ; and not having , within any recent period , performed in the United States the office of coin , it has not been the standard of value assumed in existing contracts .”
But why would an individual have gold bullion ( typically acquired by melting foreign coins ) minted as US coins , followed by exporting those coins or selling them domestically as bullion ? It appears that gold merchants did so in order to certify weight and purity . The US Mint did not charge seigniorage , and the official Mint products carried more authority than would a private assay .
The Senate committee of 1830 was indignant on this subject :
Heritage Auctions , ha . com
Due to the silver / gold ratio being 15:1 from 1792 to 1834 , gold coins were undervalued for 40 years and most of them were sold in Europe for their bullion value . This is an example of the 1827 Capped Bust $ 5 half eagle . Out of its original mintage of 24,913 , only 30 pieces are known to have survived .
We prohibit and punish all private coinage of gold ; we coin this metal at the Mint , upon a principle which does not permit it to circulate as money ; and we pay the expenses of this useless coinage . In practice , this coinage affords a facility to the possessor of gold bullion ; since it enables him to employ the Mint to weigh and assay his bullion , and to divide it into convenient portions , without expense to himself . When the coins are received from the Mint , they are sold for their value as bullion ... the greater part are exported .
30 FINANCIAL HISTORY | Fall 2022 | www . MoAF . org