Every American is familiar with the likeness of George Washington, the nation’s first president, on the one-dollar bill. But did you know that there’s a special one-dollar coin that features his face as well? In 2007, the United States launched a series of one-dollar coins honoring U.S. presidents, starting with George Washington. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the 1789-1797 George Washington One Dollar Coin, its value, history, and a rare error that made headlines across the country. You’ll soon realize that this coin is worth much more than just a dollar!
The First Coin in the Presidential Dollar Series
In late 2005, President George W. Bush signed a law authorizing the minting of special one-dollar coins to commemorate every U.S. president. These gold-colored coins would feature the portrait of each president. This initiative, known as the Presidential $1 Coin Program, would mint the coins in the order of the presidents’ terms. Consequently, the great George Washington became the first president to grace these coins. Thus, the 1789-1797 George Washington one-dollar coin was minted and circulated in early 2007.
Over 340,000,000 of these coins were minted in that year. On the obverse, we see a stern and regal left-facing portrait of Washington. Above him is his name, and below him, it reads “1st President 1789-1797.” The reverse of the coin features the Statue of Liberty, denoted as the American ideal, with the denomination of $1 and “United States of America” around the rim. Notably, the word “Liberty” is absent from the coin. The edge of the coin is uniquely engraved with the Latin credo “E pluribus unum,” the year 2007, the mint mark, and the phrase “In God We Trust.”
1789-1797 “P” George Washington One Dollar Coin Value
The Philadelphia Mint produced 176.7 million 1789-1797 George Washington one-dollar coins in 2007. Unlike most U.S. coins, these coins have a small “P” mint mark on the edge. However, despite being legal tender, the majority of these coins were stored in reserves, resulting in their scarcity today.
Even in circulated, extremely fine condition, this coin is valued slightly higher than its face value of a dollar at $1.05. In the highest about-uncirculated grade, AU58, its value rises to $1.25. The coin doubles in value when in mint-state grade MS62, reaching $2 per coin. In fact, some first-day issues of MS63 coins were sold for over $10 as early as 2008. In higher mint-state grades, the price increases significantly. An MS66 coin is valued at $15, while an MS68 coin is worth around $75 today.
1789-1797 “D” George Washington One Dollar Coin
The Denver Mint also produced a substantial number of 1789-1797 George Washington one-dollar coins, totaling just under 163.7 million coins. Much like their Philadelphia counterparts, these “D” mint mark coins remain widely stored in reserves.
Surprisingly, the value of the “P” and “D” mint mark George Washington dollar coins is the same across all grades. From circulated to about-uncirculated grades, both coins are valued between $1.05 and $1.25. Furthermore, they can reach a price of $75 in the highest mint states, specifically MS68.
1789-1797 Missing Edge Lettering George Washington One Dollar Coin Value
One special variety of the George Washington one-dollar coins features missing edge lettering. This error was discovered less than a month after the coins were first minted. Over 50,000 of these dollars were released without the Latin creed, mintage year, mint mark, and “In God We Trust” slogan on the edge. The press promptly renamed it the “Godless dollar.”
Due to the inability to identify the mint, as the edge’s mint mark serves as the distinguishing feature, these coins became highly sought after by collectors. An AU58 coin of this variety is valued at around $30, more expensive than an MS66 George Washington coin with the engraving. These coins are most commonly found in MS64 and MS65 grades, reaching values of $55-60. The value of an MS70 coin with this error remains unknown, although it has been sold in the past for over a thousand dollars!
1789-1797 George Washington One Dollar Coin Grading
While a 1789-1797 George Washington one-dollar coin is always special, its grade and condition determine its monetary value. While collectors often rely on professional agencies for grading, you can also assess your George Washington one-dollar coin’s grade at home with a magnifying glass and basic knowledge of coin grading.
Here are some key considerations to help determine the grade of your dollar coin:
- Circulated (Extremely Fine): These coins show light wear from circulation, but the design elements remain clear. While bold lines may have dulled slightly, the full design is still discernible, and there is clear wear on George Washington’s hair and other fine features.
- AU58 About Uncirculated: These coins have very slight contact marks or wear visible only under a microscope or magnifying glass. Otherwise, the luster appears shiny and complete.
- Uncirculated MS64 and up: These coins exhibit a beautiful luster with one or two contact marks, or possibly none at all. The letter engraving on the edges and Washington’s portrait are sharply defined.
1789-1797 George Washington One Dollar Coin Errors
Since the presidential coins are special issues, there are few errors found among them. For the 1789-1797 George Washington one-dollar coin, the most notable error is the missing edge lettering. However, other errors have surfaced in subsequent presidential dollar coins, such as those honoring John Adams, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson.
Another error found on a 1789-1797 George Washington one-dollar coin is the doubled edge lettering. Unlike the missing lettering, this error presents a faint second lettering, as if it were stamped twice. However, the doubling is caused by damage or malfunctioning dies that create the doubled effect. Despite being struck just once, the coins appear to have been hit twice. An MS64 coin with this error was auctioned for $300.
Are one dollar coins real gold?
While the 1789-1797 George Washington One Dollar Coins have a gold-like appearance, they are not made of pure gold. Instead, they are composed of an alloy that includes copper, zinc, manganese, and nickel.
What is the rarest 1 dollar coin?
Numerous one-dollar coins throughout U.S. history are considered rare due to many being melted down over the years, making them incredibly scarce. However, the rarest of them all is the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, the first U.S. dollar ever struck. With just over a hundred of these coins minted, they are exceptionally difficult to find today. In MS64 grade, they can reach prices of up to $1,000,000 due to their pure silver composition.
Now that you’ve learned about the remarkable 1789-1797 George Washington One Dollar Coin, its value, history, and unique errors, you can appreciate the significance of owning such a piece of American history.