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King of American coins' goes to auction

Published Sep. 29, 2005

A rare 1804 U.S. silver dollar _ referred to by collectors as "the king of American coins" _ will be offered for sale at a public auction Aug. 30 in New York City.

"It is a spectacular, historical American treasure and expected to challenge the current world's record price for a rare coin, $1.8-million," said Q. David Bowers, chairman of Auctions by Bowers and Merena of Wolfeboro, N.H., which will conduct the auction.

The coin is part of the Childs Collection, begun in the 1870s by Walter H. Childs, of Brattleboro, Vt., who was one of the first licensees of the newly formed Bell Telephone Co. in 1881.

The Childs family, which continued to expand the collection after his death in 1906, purchased the 1804 coin in 1945 for $5,000. Nearly a thousand other items from the family's collection will be included in the auction.

Only 15 of the 1804 silver dollars are known to exist, and this coin is the finest known example.

The Professional Coin Grading Service of Newport Beach, Calif. _ the world's largest rare coin authentication and certification company _ graded the coin Proof-68 on a 1-to-70 grading scale.

The coin was actually minted in 1834. That year the U.S. State Department wanted to make special coins for presentation to foreign dignitaries, and 1804-dated dies were still available, so they were used to strike the issue.

A special representative of President Andrew Jackson presented the silver dollar for sale now to the Sultan of Muscat, Oman, on Oct. 1, 1835.

The coin that garnered the record $1.8-million price was also an 1804 dollar given to the King of Siam during an overseas trade mission in 1835. That coin was graded PF-65 and sold for the record at an auction in 1997 by Bowers and Merena.

Copies of the illustrated Childs Collection catalog are available from Bowers and Merena for $40 each. To order or for more information, phone (800) 222-5993; Web site address, http://