Production of the 1794 Silver Dollar took place in early October 1794, despite some challenges for the early United States Mint. Primarily, the Mint did not yet have a coinage press that would be fully capable of striking the large silver dollar denomination. However, since they did not want to delay production, they utilized a screw press which was usually only used for copper cents and silver half dollars. This small press would cause various problems during striking.
Some numismatic scholars, in particular Walter Breen, have suggested that the mintage of the 1794 Silver Dollars was initially 2,000 pieces. Records show that a total of 1,758 silver dollars were delivered on October 15, 1794. Presumably, this means that 242 pieces of the original mintage were considered unfit for release. This could have been due to several reasons, such as extremely weak strikes or planchets that were badly off-weight.
It is believed that the majority of the 1794 Silver Dollars were released into circulation, with only a very limited number of coins kept as souvenirs. While a relatively high number of coins appear to have survived (approximately 10% of the original mintage, or 150-175 coins), the majority of survivors are found in circulated condition. It is very well possible that a number of survivors were saved from the melting pot in the 19th century, when it was realized that they were the first year of issue for the silver dollar.
The coins that have survived up to the present day are found in various die states. These die states have been closely studied by Martin Logies, who wrote the major reference on the 1794 Silver Dollar. Early in the production process the dies clashed, were later lapped, with the clash marks partially removed, after which the dies were lapped again, fully removing the clash marks. Most of the coins that are known to exist were struck after the dies had been lapped the first time. Coins struck from perfect dies are extremely rare, with only three pieces presently identified as such. Additionally, the study has proven that early in the production process the dies shifted, which resulted in weak strikes, especially notable on the left side of the obverse.