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"Stickney" 1804 Draped Bust Dollar Obverse       

Images courtesy of Spectrum Numismatics, a Greg Manning Company

1804 DRAPED BUST SILVER DOLLAR - Class I
The "King of Siam" Specimen - PCGS PR-65

Pedigree:
U.S. Mint - King Ph'ra Nang Klao (Rama III) of Siam - King Rama III - King Rama IV - Anna Leonowens (unconfirmed) - purchased sometime in the 1950s by David F. Spink - Elvin I. Unterman (via Lester Merkin) - Auctions by Bowers & Merena, Inc.'s "King of Siam" sale, October 14, 1987, Lot 2209, reserve not met - The Rarities Group and Continental Rarity Coin Fund I (via Stack's in 1989) - Superior Stamp and Coin, Inc.'s "Father Flanagan Boys Town" sale, May 27-29, 1990, Lot 3364 - Iraj Sayah and Terry Brand - Superior Stamp & Coin, Inc.'s auction sale, January 31-February 1, 1993, Lot 1996 - Spectrum Numismatics - private collection - sold in 2001 to an anonymous collector via Spectrum Numismatics and Mike's Coin Chest (the entire set was sold for a price reported to be in excess of $4.14 million).  Sometime prior to July 2001, NGC assigned a grade of Proof-67 to this example.

Notes:
The "King of Siam" set was minted sometime in late 1834 and included the Proof 1804 Silver Dollar (illustrated above), a Proof 1804 "Plain 4" $10 Gold Piece, eight 1834-dated Proof coins of different denominations, and a gold Andrew Jackson medal.  

The famed set has a rich history.  It is believed that four sets were originally assembled as gifts to world dignitaries, but only two were ever delivered before the emissary, agent Edmund Roberts, died.  The other sets were returned to the US Mint and eventually broken up.

The King of Siam set was minted sometime in late 1834. Edmund Roberts took it with him on a voyage aboard the USS Peacock in 1835 and arrived in Siam in the Spring of 1836. Included in the sale was the original ship's log from the voyage of the Peacock in 1835. The set was presented to King Ph'ra Nang Klao (also known as Rama III) on April 6 of that year and remained in the royal family for generations. Rama IV (King Ph'ra Nang Klao's half brother) followed on the throne, in turn succeeded by Rama V, who died in 1910. It is believed that Anna Leonowens of "Anna and the King of Siam" fame came into possession of the set before her death in 1915. When the set was purchased in London, England, in the 1950s the two women who sold the set were reported to be descendants of Ms. Leonowens.

The set, with its original presentation box still intact, remained in London for the next quarter of a century before being acquired by an American collector in 1979. The fame of the set grew tenfold in 1983 when it was displayed at the Smithsonian Institution. After it was acquired by Spectrum in 1993 it was placed in a private collection.  Beginning in April of 1999 the owner allowed it to be displayed as part of the Treasures of Mandalay Museum in the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 1804 silver dollar carries the nickname of "The King of Coins."  This moniker is not something new, but traces its history to an 1885 auction catalog by the Chapman brothers, noted numismatists of their day.

The 1804 $10 gold piece in the King of Siam set is believed to be one of six Proofs struck. This great rarity exhibits the "Plain 4" obverse that differentiates it from the circulation strikes of the same date.  As is true of the 1804 silver dollar, the 1804 "Plain 4" $10 is not a restrike, but an antedated original.

The balance of the coins in the set are dated 1834 and represent coins that were being minted at that time. The $10 gold and silver dollar were antedated due to an ambiguous directive that was sent requesting "coins now in use."  Silver dollars and $10 gold pieces were still in use but no longer being minted, so the coins were dated from the last known year of prior issue.  Unknown to Mint officials at the time was that the silver dollars struck and/or delivered in 1804 were dated 1803.  Thus the "King of Coins" was created.

Sources and/or recommended reading:
Press Release dated May 14, 2001 from Spectrum Numismatics

"The Rare Silver Dollars Dated 1804 and the Exciting Adventures of Edmund Roberts" by Q. David Bowers

"NGC Slabs Siam Set," Numismatic News, July 17, 2001, page 1