Click to enlargeJ540/P605

The famous 1866 "No Motto" dollar. This is a fantasy coin, reportedly deliberately struck for Robert Coulton Davis probably circa 1869 or in the early 1870s. Only two are believed to exist.

The example illustrated above is supposedly the one that was purchased by Virgil Brand from the Chapman brothers on April 22, 1899 for $100.00 and was entered into the Brand journals as #20657 and apparently was offered in Stack's Fairbanks, Wolfson, Jay and Delp sales prior to its recent appearances in American Numismatic Rarity's 9/03 and 1/05 sales where it sold for $1,207,500 becoming just the second individual pattern coin to sell for over one million dollars to Simpson-Heritage 4/21 - PCGS63 if the Breen pedigrees are correct. The other is the original Davis example which supposedly went to Granberg (possibly via Dewitt Smith), Boyd and Farouk along with the quarter and half dollar. This set was stolen in 1967 from the duPont family. The quarter and half dollar were recovered circa december 1999 and the dollar was recovered in early 2004 with the help of American Numismatic Rarities. It is illustrated below.

To view the entire set, click here.

The coin was on display at the ANA until, according to the February 20, 2015 article in Coin World by Paul Gilkes, the Dupont family donated the coins to the Smithsonian in November 2014.

Regrettably, we cannot confirm the pedigrees for these. The 1890 Davis sale included the half dollar and quarter but not the dollar and the Newcomer pattern inventories do not include any of the 3 coins either. It is important to note that Stacks called the Fairbanks coin ex Farouk in all its appearances. The coin has been repeatedly cleaned and is lacquered. It is not known in what year the Dupont's purchased their example which could help determine which pedigree is correct. A set of the 3 was in one collection in 1962 as Kosoff mentions this in his fixed price list of the Dr. Judd coins known as the "Illustrated History of U.S. Coins". If this is true, it is unclear why the quarter and half were offered in Kosoff's Hydeman sale but the dollar wasn't. Heritage, in their April 2021 sale, believes the Dupont coin is actually ex Davis, Brand and the cleaned example is a duplicate from Snowden that went to Granberg, Col Green, Farouk, Fairbanks, etc.

According to the ANR 1/05 catalog, the obverse die was used to strike some regular 1866 "With Motto" proofs but the reverse was struck from an apparently unknown die. The mint had at least 2 "No Motto" reverse dies on hand in the 1870s. They are the so-called reverses of 1859 and 1862 according to Breen and were used to strike the following:

1851 silver restrikes and J132-J133/P159-P160

1852 silver restrikes and J134/P161

1853 silver restrikes and J154/P183

1871 J1132-J1132A/P1268-P1269

1875 J1420-J1422/P1563-P1565

1876 J1470-J1471/P1621-P1622

but they were not used to strike these. Your editor, Saul Teichman, examined the ANR sale coin and noticed a light raised die line slanting diagonally down through the first 5 white stripes and may represent another use of the B-3 reverse as described on some 1852 proof restrikes dollars on page 94 of Walter Breen's "Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1977".

Photos of both pieces courtesy of American Numismatic Rarities.