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1797 Silver Dollar Coin Value Checker: How Much is It Worth Today?

1797 Silver Dollar Coin Value Checker

Old coins are popular collectible items and some can be worth significant amounts of money. One such coin is the dollar coin from 1797. While many coins graded as “good” are not worth more than their face value, a 1797 dollar coin value is approximately $1,600 for coins in a good circulated condition.

What makes the 1797 dollar coin so valuable and what are they worth at higher grades? You will find the answer to both these questions and more in this article. So continue reading to learn more about this valuable old coin.

History of the 1797 Dollar Coin

The dollar coins from 1797 were part of a series known as Draped Bust dollars. They were minted every year between 1795 and 1803. It replaced the first-ever silver dollar minted in the United States known as the Flowing Hair dollar, which was minted in 1794 at the Philadelphia Mint.

The Flowing Hair Dollar had only been in production for a year when the decision was made to redesign it. The reasons for such quick change are unclear as it is not common for coins to be minted for such a short period only.

However, it was possibly suggested by the Director of the Mint, Henry William de Saussure who had said redesigning the American coins was one of his goals as the director. Another possible reason could have been that the public did not like the Flowing Hair dollar.

Design of the 1797 Dollar Coin

The obverse, which is the ”heads” side of a coin, features a bust of Lady Liberty. She is facing to the right and her hair is loose cascading over her shoulders. The bow of a ribbon in her hair is visible at the back of her head. The word LIBERTY is inscribed on top of Lady Liberty’s image and the minting date of 1797 is below the image.

There are stars along the edge of the coin on both sides of the portrait. Both sides of the coin have one hundred individual raised dots that run around the coin along the edge. These raised dots give the otherwise fairly flat coins more texture.

The Reverse

In 1797, the reverse featured a small eagle in the center of the coin. The eagle has its wings spread out and it is standing on a small cluster of clouds. The eagle’s head is facing to the right and it and the clouds are surrounded by a wreath, which is open at the top. The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are inscribed between the wreath and the beading along the edge.

1797 Dollar Coin Varieties

Dollar coins with a mint date of 1797 come in different varieties. One of the differences is the number of letters on the coin. While some coins have nine stars on the left of the image and seven on the right, others have ten stars on the left and six on the right.

Another difference is the size of the letters. The 1797 dollars with nine and seven stars come with large letters on some coins and smaller letters on other coins. There is no difference in the size of the letters on the coins with ten and six stars.

Other Design Features

The 1797 dollar coins were minted using silver with 0.892 fineness, which is why the coins have a melt value of around $18 depending on the value of silver. However, as you will see below, these dollars are worth a lot more than their melt value. The design of the coin is attributed to Robert Scot although there is definite record of this.

The 1797 silver dollar weighs 26.96 g and has a diameter of 39 mm. The edge of the coin is lettered with HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT.

The 1797 Dollar Coin Value

The dollar coins from 1797 sell for a lot of money because only a small number of coins with a mint date of 1797 were produced by the US Mint. You can research coin values using websites such as the Coin Value Checker so you have a good idea of what kind of valuation to expect.  The total number of 1797 dollars including all varieties was just 7,776. This was a much lower number than, for example, 79,920 dollar coins minted in 1796 or 30,000 minted in 1798.

The reason for the low mintage was the declining silver bullion deposits at the US Mint. In April 1797, the Mint and the Bank of the United States reached an agreement with the Bank agreeing to supply the US Mint with foreign silver. Following the agreement, the Philadelphia Mint was able to produce more silver dollars again in 1798.

1797 Dollar With 9/7 Stars and Large Letters

It is estimated that there are around 2,000 1797 silver dollars with nine stars on the left and seven on the right with small letters that have survived until today. The coins in this variety are worth around $2,750 when graded as good (grade 4). At AU50, they are worth in the region of $20,000, at MS60 about $70,000, and at MS64 they are worth around $250,000.

1797 Dollar With 9/7 Stars and Small Letters

The 1797 dollar coins with nine and seven stars and small letters are the rarest dollar coins from that mint year. Only around 300 pieces still survive. At G4, the coins are worth $3,000, AU50 $65,000, MS60 $140,000, and MS64 $300,000.

1797 Dollar With 10/6 Stars

About 1,000 pieces of 1797 dollars with ten and six stars have survived until now. At G4, this variety is worth $2,750, the same as the nine and seven stars variety with large letters. At AU50, the price is around $17,500, at MS60 $65,000, and at MS64 $300,000.

Auction Records for 1797 Dollar Coins

The auction record for the coin variety with nine and seven stars and large letters is the lowest, although still sizable at $164,500 for an MS62 graded coin. For the small letter variety, the record is $381,875 for an MS64 coin and for the ten and six stars coin, the highest auction price is $440,625 for a coin graded at MS64.

However, the highest price has been paid for a coin with an off-center error. This means the image was struck off the center. The coin was graded at MS66+ and sold for $910,625. All of the record-breaking sales are from 2013 and each coin was sold at a Heritage Auctions sale.

Grading the 1797 Dollar Coins

If you own a silver dollar from 1797 and are considering selling it, you will need to have it professionally graded to ensure the right price. When coin graders appraise a coin, they use an agreed scale known as the Sheldon scale to determine the value of the coin.

The Sheldon scale is an alpha-numeric scale that runs from one to seventy. Coins in the poorest condition are graded as PO1. Normally, with most coins, you would not be able to sell a coin in poor condition. However, because of their rarity, collectors are willing to pay upwards of $500 for 1797 silver dollars in this condition.

Grades from Good to Extra Fine

At G4, the dollar coins from 1797 are already worth almost $3,000. At this grade, the rims show wear and the coin has nearly full letters and digits. At VG8 (very good) there is wear on the whole design. The letters and digits are full but show softness.

At F12 (fine) the letters and digits are sharper but the recessed areas show softness. At VF (very fine) grades, the coin shows more complete design details, the higher the grade gets. A coin that is graded XF (extra fine) will have complete design details but there is some wear on the high points of the design.

About Uncirculated to Mint State

The letters AU before the grade mean that the coin is in almost as good condition as uncirculated coins. There is still some wear on the designs, mostly some softness on its high points. Coins that are in about uncirculated condition are given a numeric value between 50 and 59.

Coins graded between 60 and 70 are mint state coins with the letters MS used in front of the grade. The grade MS70 is reserved for the perfect coin. It will have been struck perfectly and will show no imperfection even when magnified. There are no known MS70 coins among the 1797 dollar coins.

Conclusion

If you are lucky enough to own a 1797 dollar coin, you possess a very collectible piece of American coinage history. These dollar coins are rare, with only around 3,300 specimens surviving today, which increases their value significantly.

Anyone looking to sell a 1797 dollar coin should have it professionally valued to ensure it is sold at the right price. You should also do your research before sending it to professional coin graders.

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