The John Adams dollar coin holds a unique place in early American history. Struck for only a brief period from 1797-1801, the Adams dollar represents the beginnings of the U.S. Mint and features a iconic depiction of Lady Liberty that would influence coin design for decades to come.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The John Adams dollar coin was minted from 1797-1801 during John Adams’ presidency. It was the second dollar coin minted by the U.S. Mint and featured Lady Liberty on the front and an eagle on the back.

Only around 160,000 Adams dollars were minted, making them highly sought-after by collectors today.

Origins of the John Adams Dollar Coin

Establishment of the U.S. Mint in 1792

The origins of the John Adams Dollar Coin can be traced back to the establishment of the United States Mint in 1792. The U.S. Mint was created by an act of Congress to produce and circulate the country’s own currency.

This was a significant step for the young nation, as it marked a shift away from using foreign coins as legal tender.

The Flowing Hair Dollar of 1794-1795

The first dollar coin to be issued by the U.S. Mint was the Flowing Hair Dollar, minted from 1794 to 1795. Designed by Robert Scot, the Flowing Hair Dollar featured a portrait of Lady Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.

However, due to the challenges of minting, these coins were not widely circulated and are now considered rare and valuable among collectors.

The Draped Bust Dollar Arrives in 1795

In 1795, the design of the dollar coin was changed to the Draped Bust, featuring a more refined and elegant portrait of Lady Liberty. This design, created by Robert Scot and John Eckstein, was used until 1804.

It is during this period that the John Adams Dollar Coin was minted, bearing the likeness of the second President of the United States, John Adams.

The John Adams Dollar Coin holds historical significance as it pays tribute to one of the founding fathers of the United States. John Adams played a crucial role in the early development of the nation and was a key advocate for American independence.

His presidency, which lasted from 1797 to 1801, was marked by challenges and achievements that shaped the course of American history.

For more information about the history of the U.S. Mint and the John Adams Dollar Coin, you can visit the official website of the United States Mint at

Details and Design of the John Adams Dollar

The John Adams Dollar coin, minted from 1797 to 1801, holds a significant place in American numismatic history. Let’s take a closer look at the details and design elements that make this coin unique and cherished by collectors.

Obverse Depicting Liberty

The obverse side of the John Adams Dollar showcases a detailed and lifelike portrait of Lady Liberty. She is portrayed facing to the right, with flowing hair and a laurel wreath adorning her head. This depiction of Liberty was a common theme on early American coins, symbolizing the newly formed nation’s ideals of freedom and independence.

Did you know? The design of the obverse was created by the renowned American artist Robert Scot, who was also responsible for designing other early American coins.

Reverse Featuring the Heraldic Eagle

The reverse side of the John Adams Dollar features a majestic heraldic eagle, with its wings spread wide. The eagle holds an olive branch in one talon, symbolizing peace, and a bundle of arrows in the other, symbolizing strength.

This iconic design represents the United States as a nation capable of both diplomacy and defense.

Fun fact: The heraldic eagle design on the reverse was inspired by the Great Seal of the United States, which was adopted in 1782.

Titles, Lettering, and Edge Design

Along the edge of the John Adams Dollar, you will find the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and the year of minting. The lettering on the coin is intricate and beautifully executed, adding to its overall appeal.

The edge design of the coin is reeded, with raised lines running vertically along the circumference.

Interesting fact: The reeded edge design not only adds a decorative element to the coin but also serves as a deterrent against counterfeiting.

Mint Marks

Unlike modern coins, the John Adams Dollar does not bear mint marks indicating the location where it was minted. During this time period, all coins were minted at the Philadelphia Mint, so mint marks were unnecessary.

For more information: If you’re interested in learning more about the history and significance of the John Adams Dollar, you can visit the official website of the U.S. Mint.

Circulation and Rarity of Adams Dollars Today

Low Mintage Numbers

The John Adams dollar was minted in relatively small numbers during its short run from 1797 to 1798, with a total mintage of just 42,788 coins. This low mintage makes Adams dollars quite rare and collectible today.

According to the reference guide, the 1797 Adams dollar had a mintage of only 979 coins. The 1798/7 variety had a mintage of 7,776 coins, while the 1798 normal date variety had a slightly higher mintage of 34,033 coins.

Melting and Exportation Reduce Numbers

Adding to their rarity, many Adams dollars were later melted or exported over the years. Back then, a dollar was an enormous sum of money, and the coins were often melted down for their high silver content.

The Chinese export market was also strong, and countless Adams dollars made their way to China. These factors greatly reduced the surviving population of Adams dollars that collectors can hope to acquire today.

Highest Graded Examples

Given their age and low supply, most surviving Adams dollars are well worn and damaged. According to the PCGS CoinFacts price guide, the finest known 1797 dollar grades PCGS MS66, while the finest 1798/7 overdate is graded PCGS MS64.

As for the 1798 normal date variety, the highest graded piece is an astounding PCGS MS67 example.

Modern Rarity and Value

Today, all varieties of Adams dollars are immensely rare and valuable to collectors. As an early American dollar coin, the Adams dollar carries incredible historical significance. According to the PCGS Price Guide, an average circulated Adams dollar costs around $2,000 to $7,000.

Higher grade Mint State examples can easily fetch five to six figure prices at auction. Even well worn pieces are worth hundreds of dollars due to their rarity and demand. The John Adams dollar stands as one of the most prized early American coins.

Significance in Early American Numismatics

The John Adams Dollar Coin of 1797-1801 holds a significant place in the history of American numismatics. This coin was the second dollar coin issued by the United States Mint and was part of the early efforts to establish a stable and recognizable currency system in the newly formed country.

A New Icon of Liberty

The John Adams Dollar Coin featured a bold and intricate design that showcased the iconic image of Liberty. The obverse side of the coin depicted a profile of John Adams, the second President of the United States, while the reverse side showcased a majestic eagle.

This design was a departure from the previous Flowing Hair Dollar, which featured a more simplistic design.

The John Adams Dollar Coin became a symbol of American identity and strength. It served as a representation of the ideals of liberty and freedom that the young nation was built upon. The coin became a source of pride for many Americans and was seen as a reflection of the country’s progress and growth.

Influence on Later Coinage

The John Adams Dollar Coin had a significant influence on the design and production of later coinage in the United States. Its intricate and detailed design set a standard for future coins and inspired subsequent coin designers to strive for artistic excellence.

The use of Liberty and the eagle motif became a recurring theme in American coinage, symbolizing the nation’s values and heritage.

The John Adams Dollar Coin also played a crucial role in shaping the public’s perception of the United States Mint and its ability to produce high-quality coins. The success of this coin helped establish the Mint as a trusted institution and paved the way for future coin programs.

Key Date of Bust Dollar Series

The John Adams Dollar Coin is considered a key date in the Bust Dollar series, which includes the early dollar coins minted from 1795 to 1804. Key dates are coins that are relatively scarce and sought after by collectors, making them more valuable than other coins in the series.

Collectors and numismatists often view the John Adams Dollar Coin as a coveted piece due to its historical significance and limited availability. Its rarity makes it a prized addition to any collection, and its value has steadily increased over the years.

To learn more about the John Adams Dollar Coin and its significance in early American numismatics, you can visit the United States Mint website for additional information.


Though minted for just a brief span of years, the John Adams dollar coin marked an important milestone in early U.S. coinage. The bold artistic vision of its Liberty obverse would help define American money for decades to come.

With only around 160,000 examples struck, Adams dollars are avidly sought after by collectors today. They represent the origins of the U.S. Mint as well as the young nation itself.

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