1795 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar. BB-14, B-4. Rarity-3. Two Leaves--Silver Plug--EF-40 (PCGS).
Prized 1795 Silver Dollar With Silver Plug Center
Handsome copper-gray patina blankets both sides with warmer steel gray outlines enhancing most of the devices. The detail remains bold, if not sharp from a well executed and perfectly centered strike, and the all-important silver plug is readily evident in the center of the reverse. A lack of distracting abrasions rounds out an impressive list of attributes for this important and desirable EF dollar. The silver plugs were inserted into lightweight planchets of several different die pairings of silver dollars in 1795, likely early in the year during the "Two Leaf" style reverse production. What apparently happened is that during the planchet rolling process the rollers flattened the silver ingots a bit too much and several planchets were weighed and determined to be underweight the mint's narrow tolerance for the value of a silver dollar, and thus could not be used as they were. Rather than melting down these lightweight planchets (and saving several steps to draw and roll out planchets again), the mint technology developed during the 1792 silver center cent pattern issue was employed. Of course, the 1792 silver center cent is mostly copper with a small central silver plug inserted prior to striking, when combined these two metals had a value of one cent. The addition of the silver plug at the center greatly reduced the size of a 1 cent value coin if it was made entirely of copper. The concept was similar for the silver dollar, where lightweight planchets need a small percentage increase in order to be within the narrow tolerance allowed for a new issued coin. Simply put, it was far easier to drill a small central hole in a lightweight planchet, insert a larger silver plug that brought the weight up, then strike the coin in question, which flattens out the silver plug and is little noticed. Remarkably, in some cases the silver plug was a bit too high in weight, and some silver plug planchet coins also show adjustment marks, where a fine file was used to file off a few grains of excess silver, again to reduce the weight of the planchet into the narrow range required for a "dollar" planchet. The practice of inserting silver plugs on regular issue Federal coinage apparently only lasted a few months, one 1794 silver dollar is known with a silver plug, that of course the fantastic Carter-Contursi-Cardinal example we sold for over $10,000,000 a year ago. Furthermore, a few Flowing Hair half dollars are known with silver plug centers, but only a very few, less than five currently. The number of silver dollars with this feature is certainly small, borne out by the PCGS Population Report number as well as those listed in the NGC Census data. This is a very important designation for the specialist to acquire for Registry as well as for the die variety specialist to seek out. This example is one of the finer pieces known and also of a variety where silver plugs are few and far between, further enhancing its desirability.
PCGS Population: 6; 21 finer (Mint State-65 finest) within the Silver Plug designation.
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