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1804 silver dollar stuff of dreams

An 1804 silver dollar will go up for auction during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money Aug. 8 in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will put the coin on the block during its Rarities Night Auction.

Though my name will not appear anywhere on the pedigree, nor will I share in the millions of dollars of proceeds in any way, I consider the coin to be mine.

I am sure that would come as news to Q. David Bowers, who has a long professional relationship with the coin and has assembled fascinating background material about it.

But the coin is mine in the way that all coins that are objects of boyish dreams and desires belong to the dreamers.

Every collector goes through a period of learning about the great American rarities.

Some hold greater appeal than others depending on the collector’s tastes.

I was particularly enthralled by the 1913 Liberty Head nickel. It was sold for $46,000 while I was earning $5 a week delivering newspapers in the afternoons.

Second on my list of dream coins was an 1804 dollar. Owning one would have been a dream fulfilled. I would not have been picky as to whether I obtained a Class I or Class III example.

This one happens to be a Class III.

What happened to make this coin mine of the 15 examples of the 1804 dollar that exist was that I was able to hold it in my hands at the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Lincoln, Neb., in 1980 not long after this coin was sold for $400,000 in the March 26-27 Bowers and Ruddy Garrett Collection auction.

I was 24 years old and it was the first time I had ever held such a status coin in my hands.

I will never forget the feeling. I was nervous, of course. But I was also thrilled.

Too bad I didn’t have the cool cash to buy it on the spot, I thought, but it had already changed hands since the Garrett sale and was reputedly already tickling a $500,000 asking price when I had brief possession of it.

But it was a good thing that I did not have the funds, because buying coins when you have stars in your eyes is a pretty good way to overpay.

I did not overpay, though. I paid nothing at all for the experience. But it has paid me psychological dividends over the years.

Perhaps now that 34 years have passed I will have the opportunity to hold “my” coin again.

I will have to ask.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."