The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 34, August 18, 2013, Article 9


Heritage Mickley Dollar monograph David Stone of Heritage Auctions kindly sent me a review copy of the dedicated catalog for the Mickley-Hawn-Queller Class I 1804 Dollar, which the firm sold on August 8, 2013 for $3,877,500 (including buyer's premium).

The 67+ page softcover catalog is a book in itself, "a special expanded version of the lot description... It contains more than two dozen pages of new material, much of it focusing on namesake owner Joseph J. Mickley, including his family, acquaintances, work, and travels. These details, never before gathered in one place, create the fullest portrait yet of one of the most famous U.S. coin collectors of the 19th century."

Consisting of several short chapters contributed by several authors, there is some repetition of a few key facts, but the compendium is quite interesting and useful. I learned several new things about Mickley and the early literature relating to the 1804 dollars. Bibliophiles will enjoy Jon Amato's segment on "American Numismatics in the 1860s and the 1804 dollar" and David Stone's section on "The 1804 Dollar Abroad".

I found George Huber's section on "19th Century Perceptions and Misperceptions About the 1804 Dollar" entertaining. Numismatic research and knowledge about these coins and their collectors has come a long way since the groundbreaking work of Eric Newman, Ken Bressett and others in The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, published in 1962 (not to mention the lengthy treatment by Dave Bowers in The Rare Silver Dollars Dated 1804", published in 1999).

While the authors acknowledge and reference many of their sources within their text, the book lacks the footnotes, endnotes and bibliography I generally look for in any numismatic publication. But I'm very glad to add this to my library, where it will find a home in a growing section of books and monographs concerning this landmark coin and its owners.

A chapter by George Huber titled "Some Views of Joseph Jacob Mickley" covers many aspects of this 19th Century Renaissance Man:

  • Joseph J. Mickley the Historian
  • Mickley the Tradesman
  • Mickley the Philographer (collector of autographs)
  • Mickley the Musician
  • Mickley the Numismatist
  • Mickley the Bibliophile
  • Mickley's Later Years

I've selected a couple excerpts for E-Sylum readers.

Jacob Eckfeldt and William E. DuBois revealed the existence of the Class I or "Original" 1804 dollars to the then-small coin collecting community of the United States by including a picture of one in their 1842 reference, the Manual of Coins of All Nations. Matthew Stickney became the first confirmed non-royal, non-government-employee owner of an 1804 dollar in 1843, when he traded a gold Immune Columbia piece - a remarkable numismatic delicacy - as well as other coins to the Mint Cabinet to get his example. The second confirmed piece to come into a collector's hands was this very coin, which had come into the possession of bank teller Henry C. Young in 1850 and was sold to now-legendary numismatist Joseph J. Mickley around 1858. (p8)

Mickley's house on Market Street between Ninth and 10th was literally blocks away from both the first U.S. Mint building and the second Philadelphia Mint building. Mickley and his older brother Jacob did sign the Mint visitors register in 1841, the first documented visit of Mickley to the Mint. There seems little doubt that Mickley would have seen the Mint Cabinet then; it was formed in 1838. The only question is whether 1804 silver dollars were on display during his 1841 visit. It is possible that Mickley became aware of their existence in 1841, before Massachusetts collector Matthew Stickney learned of them via the Eckfeldt-Dubois "Mint Manual," published in 1842. The "Mint Manual" was the first publication that alerted many American collectors to the existence of genuine American silver dollars dated 1804.

Mickley obtained his copy of the "Mint Manual" in 1845, as recorded in his daily business journal, so he certainly became aware of the 1804 silver dollar sometime in the period between 1841 and 1845. One can only imagine how Mickley must have felt during the many years between learning of the existence of the 1804 silver dollars, and the crowning moment when he finally obtained one. The example came from an improbable source: Bank of Pennsylvania teller Henry C. Young, who reportedly fished Mickley's future prize out of his cash drawer for face value. Mickley acquired the coin sometime before 1859, making the window between when he learned of the 1804 dollar and the time he acquired one somewhere from five to more than 15 years. Mickley, even at such an early date, surely recognized his new 1804 silver dollar to be the capstone of his collection -- just as it will be for its next owner.

In all, Mickley is recorded as making 11 visits to the Philadelphia Mint from 1841 to 1848. He likely made many more visits during the next 20 years. With his ingratiating personality, winning ways, and vast local network of personal and business connections, it seems certain that after some of those visits, he walked home with a few more baubles and a bit less cash in his pockets. (p18-19)

To read the basic lot description, see: Lot 5699: The Mickley-Hawn-Queller Class I Original 1804 Dollar, PR62 PCGS From the Greensboro Collection, Part IV (

To read the complete catalog of the 1804 dollar, see:


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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