U.S. Mint Shifts Course on 1794 Dollar Tribute
The first American silver dollar—the 1794 Flowing Hair dollar—was going to be the inspiration for the design of the next silver medal and high-relief gold coin, according to an October 24 U.S. Mint announcement.
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) had been scheduled to review the design on October 24-25, but the group declined to do that, saying the designs were not modern depictions of Liberty.
Then, on November 1, the mint announced that it had decided against using the Flowing Hair design for the next American Liberty issues. However, it plans to release them as a separate program celebrating the coin’s 230th anniversary in 2024. These plans appear to include a silver medal and gold coin still—both of which can be issued without congressional authority.
Mint officials also said that on October 19, the Commission of Fine Arts recommended that the designs be used for another program. Using the designs for another program was recommended by the Commission on Fine Arts when it reviewed the design on October 19.
Regarding the mint’s original plan to do the tribute for the American Liberty program, CCAC Chairman Gary Marks told the ANA that “the Mint’s announcement is a huge disappointment. The American Liberty program is supposed to be about giving modern artists an opportunity to define Liberty in modern terms. It was never intended to resurrect yet another classic design from the dead. Sure, a recycled 1794 silver dollar will sell well. It packs a ton of nostalgia for collectors. But if they have to do it, why not do it in its own program? Why hijack a modern design program to do it? It’s really a slap in the face to the coin artist community.”
Another former CCAC chairman, ANA President Tom Uram, has long supported reissuing this iconic coin. He investigated the possibility of legislation for a 1794 circulating dollar coin or silver dollar commemorative that didn’t work out. In roundtable meetings with dealers and other numismatic stakeholders, Tom notes that they expressed much interest in this release. To learn more, visit usmint.gov.
A version of this article appears in the December 2023 issue of The Numismatist (money.org).