Silver is gold’s cheaper cousin. But that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. It can actually make you some serious dollar, especially given the fact that many collectible coins as well as numismatics are actually made of silver.
In this article, we will focus on value of silver dollars made in the USA over the years. To be more specific, we will talk about the history, price and rare editions of the Morgan dollar, Peace dollar and Eisenhower dollar.
The Morgan dollar, named after its designer, George T. Morgan, was an immensely popular coin among US citizens at the time. It was being minted for around 40 years, from 1878 until 1904, and then again, for one more year in 1921. Today, given its beautiful design, featuring the Liberty on the obverse and an eagle with spread wings on the reverse, as well as quite a huge volume of minted coins (almost 670 million in total!), the Morgan silver dollar is still quite a popular coin among collectors.
The defining feature of the Morgan dollar is its relatively high longevity as a means of payment. That’s why the price can largely vary depending on several factors:
The older the Morgan, the more money it is worth – That’s a general principle – as you will find out later on, there are more factors at play that determine how much a Morgan is worth. However, a well-preserved coin from the first years of production is certainly going to make you some serious money!
Well-preserved coins reach high prices, because of their rarity – Almost all things wear and tear with time. Nowhere is it more true than in case of coins. Everyday handling, constant friction, going from hand to hand, pocket to pocket and wallet to wallet… It’s a hard life out there for these little discs of metal! It’s easy for them to get scratched or for the design to get worn away – especially when we’re talking about pieces made between 100 and 140 years ago! That’s why Morgan dollars in uncirculated condition reach much higher prices, even than the extremely fine ones.
The mint where the coin has been produced is a defining attribute – Morgan dollars have been produced in four mints – Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City and San Francisco. In 1921, production also took place in Denver. In different years, each of these released varying amounts of the Morgan coins, which largely influences the price. For example, a 1889 Morgan from Carson City reaches between $3000 and $7000 a piece, while the same coins from other mints often don’t surpass $100 in value. The reason is simple – while San Francisco, Philadelphia and New Orleans mints produced Morgans in millions that year, Carson City has only released 350,000. Make sure to pay attention to the mint marks – you can find them on the reverse, just above the ‘O’ in dollar. S stands for San Francisco, O for New Orleans and CC for Carson City. Coins minted in Philadelphia don’t have a mark.
Is a Morgan dollar a good investment for the future? Definitely! Given that the coin has not been produced for 100 years now, its value will only rise. It’s especially true when it comes to the well-preserved pieces. As the years go by, they will only become more and more scarce. If you own a Morgan dollar in a good condition, our advice is to enclose it in a protective case, so that its beauty and value can live on.
Peace silver dollars
The US involvement in the First World War might have been brief, but it certainly left its mark on the American society. While the reasons for grief – 100.000 US soldiers have perished on the Western Front were serious, it was the promise of a long peace that people decided to celebrate. In 1920, Farran Zebre, a historian for the American Numismatic Association pitched the idea to honor the occasion with a special coin. It caught on, and in 1921 a new dollar coin, dubbed the Peace Dollar entered circulation.
The Peace silver dollar has been withdrawn from circulation in 1935. With a short lifespan of only 14 years, it’s quite a treat for collectors. However, just like with the Morgan dollar, it’s hard to find a piece in a really good condition. That’s why Peace dollars are, more often than not, kept as silver bullion, and not numismatics.
The Peace dollars in good condition, however, can reach really high prices of several dozens or even several hundred dollars per piece. Pay specific attention to several editions that can sell for particularly good money. The 1921 Silver dollar is one of those. It’s the first issue of the Peace coin with a design that has been forfeited in favor of a simpler one, just a year later. Other highly-valued editions come from 1928 as well as 1934 (from Denver and San Francisco mints).
1971 Eisenhower dollar
The Eisenhower dollar is a very peculiar case in the history of US coins produced for circulation. It would become the first silver coin to enter the circulation minted in the US since the Peace dollar has had been withdrawn in 1935. It would also be the last.
It has been introduced in 1971, when increasing bullion prices deemed it unprofitable to mint coins from precious metals. The Eisenhower dollar was not an exception. It contains 40% of silver, the rest being a copper-nickel clad. Still, however, it was unusual to issue silver coins meant for circulation in the second half of the 20th century.
The new coin was supposed to honor two major events that occured in 1969. First of all, it was an expression of remembrance of Dwight Eisenhower, a former US President and a World War Two hero, who passed away in March of that year (the coin is often referred to as the ‘Ike dollar’). Second of all, it was to celebrate the first landing on the moon. The obverse depicts the profile of the late President and the reverse shows an olive brand-bearing eagle landing on the moon.
Despite a huge support from the public from the vest start of the project, the coin failed to catch on as a legitimate means of payment. It was quite large, heavy and easily replaceable by banknotes and smaller change in wallets of the US citizens.
The makers of the coin quickly realized that, well, the coin was not really being used to buy anything. It had an attrition rate of almost 100%. That means it was used as a means of payment once and then basically ceased to circulate. It, however, became very popular as a collectible, as well as… a token in casinos in Nevada area. Not surprisingly, the Ike dollar was withdrawn from circulation in 1978.
Right now, the Eisenhower dollar does not have much in terms of monetary value. Because of its relatively low silver content, you can expect to get anywhere between $3 and $15 for a coin in uncirculated condition. Apart from the coin grade, the year of mintage is a factor that determines the price. However, as with most things in life, there are exceptions to the rule:
- If you’re purely looking for profit, keep your eye out for the 1972 Ike dollar Type 2 from Philadelphia. That year the mint produced three different versions of the coin – each with a unique reverse. While type one and three are easy to acquire, the type two is the one resellers desire. These coins can reach up to $85 for an uncirculated piece.
- Collectors, on the other hand, might be interested in obtaining the 1976 bicentennial edition of the Eisenhower dollar. Minted to celebrate 200 years since the signing of Declaration of Independence, it was issued with two different designs.
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