Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on YouTube

Silver Dollar – How Much Is It Worth?

September 24, 2014 2 Comments

“I found a silver dollar, can you tell me how much it’s worth?” Believe it or not, this is a very common phone call we receive at Golden Eagle. We’ll usually oblige and play a little bit of I Spy and receive answers such as:

  • “It’s got an old, bald guy on one side.”
  • “The lady has like, spikes coming out of her head.”
  • “There’s a bird on the back.”

After identifying their coin we’ll direct that person to a local coin dealer or our website because there are many factors that contribute to the value of a coin and it’s nearly impossible to do it blind. If they want to sell their coin, most times they end up mailing it in to us and we assess the coin when it arrives.

What Kind Of Silver Dollar Do I Have?

If you have an older silver dollar, or if you come across one, the first thing you want to do is identify what type of coin it is. The easiest way to start is by breaking down the coin by its date. There are 3 main groups by time period:

  • 1794-1873: This covers the early dollars such as the Flowing Hair Dollar, Bust Dollar, Gobrecht Dollar, Seated Liberty Dollar, and also the Trade Dollar (although the Trade Dollar was minted until 1885 it’s usually lumped in with these coins).
  • 1878-1935: This is the meat and potatoes of the silver dollar era and also the most popular. This period comprises two coins, the Morgan Dollar (the most popular silver dollar – and arguably most popular U.S. coin) and the Peace Dollar.
  • 1971-1976: This period covers strictly Eisenhower Dollars (known as “Ikes” amongst avid coin collectors). Only a handful of specific dates were made in 40% silver composition, the rest of the circulating Eisenhowers were composed of copper-nickel clad and contain no silver.

All values listed below are derived from the Red Book, the definitive guide for U.S. coins. Please keep in mind many factors are involved such as the date of the coin, mintmark, variations, grade, etc. For the sake of the value below we are applying a grading range from Almost Good to Mint State. For a detailed guide, view our previous blog post on coin grading.


Flowing Hair Dollar (1794-1795)


flowing-hair-dollar

The Flowing Hair Dollar is one of the earliest dollars minted by the United States. While there are many varieties that can be found, it is very difficult to keep track of their details because all of these early dies were made individually. Because modern technology was not available, no two dies were the same and as such, strike variations occurred. Not only were the dies different, but the silver blanks that were used prior to being stamped were weighed by hand as well and if a die was overweight it was filed down (again by hand) to achieve the correct weight. Conversely, if a blank was too light, a silver plug was inserted in the center of the blank planchet before the coin was struck.

Value: $1,100 – $750,000


Draped Bust Dollar (1795-1804)

 

Draped Bust Dollar

Very similar to the Flowing Hair Dollar, the Draped Bust Dollar has many variations when it comes to their uniformity (different thicknesses, off-center dies, etc.). There was also a design change in 1798 called the Heraldic Eagle Reverse where the eagle design was changed from an anemic-looking eagle (many in the industry call this bird sickly-looking) to a more patriotic eagle with a shield. Also, there is a very rare variation known as the 1804 Dollar.

Value: $825 – $108,000


Heraldic Eagle Reverse Bust Dollar (1798-1804)

 

Draped Bust Dollar Heraldic Eagle Reverse

Value: $900 – $450,000

Note: there are more expensive Heraldic Eagle Reverse Draped Bust Dollar coins, most notably 2 that are dated 1801 Proof Restrike dollars (reverse struck from first die of 1804 dollar) that are valued at $1,000,000.


1804 Dollars

 

1804 Silver Dollar

“The 1804 dollar is one of the most publicized rarities in the entire series of United State coins. There are specimens known as originals (first reverse), of which eight are known; and restrikes (second reverse), of which seven are known, one of which has a plain edge.

Numismatists have found that the 1804 original dollars were first struck at the Mint in the 1834 through 1835 period, for use in presentation Proof sets. The first coin to be owned by a collector, a Proof, was obtained from a Mint officer by Matthew Stickney on May 9, 1843, in exchange for an Immune Comumbia piece in gold. Later, beginning in 1859, the pieces known as restrikes and electrotypes were made at the Mint to supply the needs of collectors who wanted examples of these dollars.

Evidence that these pieces were struck during the later period is based on the fact that the 1804 dollars differ from issues of 1803 or earlier and conform more closely to those struck after 1836, their edges or borders having beaded segments and raised rims, not elongated denticles such as are found on the earlier dates.

Although the Mint record states that 19,570 dollars were coined in 1804, in no place does it mention that they were dated 1804. It was the practice in those days to use the old dies as long as they were serviceable with no regard in the annual reports for the dating of the coins. It is probable that the 1804 total for dollars actually covered coins that were dated 1803.” (Yeoman, 213)

Value: $2,300,000 – $4,140,000 (Total of 19 known coins)


Gobrecht Dollars (1836-1839)

 

Gobrecht Silver Dollar

“Suspension of silver dollar coinage was lifted in 1831, but it was not until 1835 that steps were taken to resume coinage. Late in that year the Mint director, R.M. Patterson, ordered engraver Christian Gobrecht to prepare a pair of dies, based on designed by Thomas Sully and Titian Peale. The first obverse die, dated, 1836, bore the seated figure of Liberty on the obverse with the inscription C. GOBRECT F. (“F” is an abbreviation for the Latin word Fecit, or “made it”) in the field above the date. On the reverse was a large eagle flying left, surrounded by 26 stars and the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA * ONE DOLLAR *. It is not known whether coins from these dies were struck at that time. A new obverse die with Gobrecht’s name on the base of Liberty was prepared, and in December 1836, 1,000 coins were struck for circulation. These coins weighed 416 grams, which was the standard enacted in 1792.” (Yeoman, 214)

Value: $11,646 – $35,754 (Though, many Gobrecht Dollars can be found on eBay for much less)


Liberty Seated Dollars (1840-1873)

 

Seated Liberty Dollar

“Starting again in 1840, silver dollars were issued for general circulation. The seated figure of Liberty was adopted for the obverse, but the flying eagle design was rejected in favor of the more familiar form with olive branch and arrows used for certain other silver denominations. By the early 1850’s the silver content of these pieces was worth more than their face value, and later issues were not seen in circulation but were used mainly in export trade. This situation continued through 1873.” (Yeoman, 216)

Value: $260 – $70,000 (Raw, ungraded Seated Liberty Dollars can be purchased for less)


Trade Dollars (1873-1885)

 

Trade Dollar

“This coin was issued for circulation in Asia to compete with dollar-sized coins of other countries. They were legal tender in the United States, but when silver prices declined, Congress repealed the provision and authorized the Treasury to limit coinage to export demand. Many pieces that circulated in the Orient were counterstamped with Oriental characters, known as chop marks. In 1887, the Treasury redeemed all trade dollars that were not mutilated. The law authorizing trade dollars was repealed in February 1887.” (Yeoman, 218)

Value: $130 – $1,565,000


Morgan Dollars (1878 – 1921)

 

Morgan Dollars

“The coinage law of 1873 made no provision for the standard silver dollar. During the lapse in coinage of this denomination, the gold dollar became the unit coin, and the trade dollar was used for commercial transactions with the Orient.

Resumption of coinage of the silver dollar was authorized by the Act of February 28, 1878, known as the Bland-Allison Act. The weight (412-1/2 grains) and fineness (.900) were to conform with the Act of January 18, 1837.

George T Morgan, formerly a pupil of William Wyon in the Royal Mint in London, designed the new dollar. His initial M is found at the truncation of the neck, at the last tress. It also appears on the reverse on the left-hand loop of the ribbon.

Coinage of the silver dollar was suspended after 1904, when demand was low and the bullion supply became exhausted. Under provision of the Pittman Act of 1918, 270,232,722 silver dollars were melted, and later, in 1921, coinage of the silver dollar was resumed. The Morgan dollar design, with some slight refinements, was employed until the new Peace design was adopted later in that year.” (Yeoman, 219-220)

Value: $20 – $575,000


Peace Dollars (1921-1935)

 

Peace Dollar

“The dollars of new design issued from December 1921 through 1935 was a commemorative peace coin. The Peace dollar was issued without congressional sanction, under the terms of the Pittman Act, which referred to the bullion and in no way affected the design. Anthony de Francisci, a medalist, designed this dollar. His monogram is located in the field of the coin under the neck of Liberty.

This new Peace dollar was placed in circulation on January 3, 1922; 1,000,473 pieces had been struck in December 1921.

The high relief of the 1921 design was found impractical for coinage and was modified to low or shallow relief in 1922, after 35,401 coins had been made and most of them melted at the mint. The rare Matte and Satin Finish Proofs of 1922 are of both the high-relief style of 921 and the normal-relief style.

Legislation dated August 3, 1964, authorized the coinage of 45 million silver dollars, and 316,076 dollars of the Peace design dated 1964 were struck at the Denver Mint in 1965. Plans for completing this coinage were subsequently abandoned and all of these coins were melted. None were preserved or released for circulation.” (Yeoman, 224)

Value: $18 – $100,000


Eisenhower Dollars (1971-1978)

 

Eisenhower Dollar

“Honoring both President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the first landing of man on the moon, this design is the work of Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro, whose initials are on the truncation and below the eagle. The reverse is an adaptation of the official Apollo 11 insignia. Collectors’ coins were struck in 40% silver composition, and the circulation issue in copper-nickel.” (Yeoman, 225)

Value: $2 – $40 (Most Eisenhower dollars you find in circulation will be copper clad, not silver.)


Sources:

Yeoman, R.S. The Official Red Book – A Guide Book Of United States Coins. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, 2010.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone
Filed in: Informative, Tutorial

About the Author:

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ruth Lang says:

    I have an 1878 cc Morgan in I guess fair shape, but stamped across the face in my great great grandfather’s name. Is this coin still worth anything?

  2. Eva Gonzales says:

    Would like to have my 1922 coin checked to know it’s value

Leave a Reply