Should You Buy Silver Dollars As An Investment? One Coin Expert’s Advice

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Are silver dollars a good investment?

That’s a question many people ask me — especially when silver bullion prices go up or down dramatically.

If you’re a regular follower of The Fun Times Guide to Coins and keep track of the advice I give our readers, you may notice that I usually post a friendly little disclaimer about investing in coins.


Before Investing In Silver Dollars…

What I tell all of our readers about coin investing is:

  1. Nobody can really predict where the coin market is going.
  2. Silver coin prices tend to go up and down with great frequency.

The prices of many rare U.S. coins go up. Some rare coin values have also dropped in recent years.

So, there’s no such thing as a “surefire” investment when it comes to coins. In other words, don’t buy tons of silver dollars and expect that they’re going to fund your child through college or help you retire in 5 years.

But, if you’d like to buy a bunch of silver dollars because silver prices dropped and became more affordable, or because silver bullion values are going up and you want to get in on the game before they’re too expensive for your budget, then by all means go for it.


How Silver Prices Affect The Value Of Silver Dollars

You might be wondering what effects silver prices have on silver dollars.

Sure, it probably makes sense that the higher silver prices go, so, too, will the price of silver dollars follow.

Indeed, this is partly true. However, it’s not always the case.

You see, most silver dollars have numismatic value — which means they’re worth something because of their rarity, historical significance, or another intangible reason.

In some cases, the numismatic value of a silver dollar might be so high that bullion prices have virtually no impact on the overall value of a given silver dollar.

A great example of this is the 1895 Morgan silver dollar.

As of this writing, it’s worth $20,000 in a grade of Good-4. So, as you’d probably guess, the value of this coin isn’t based on the fact that silver is worth about $14 an ounce right now. 1895 silver dollars are so rare, that it’s hard to believe the mere price of silver could ever really affect the value of an 1895 silver dollar. Unless silver prices zoom north to, oh, say, $20,000 an ounce, give or take. Impossible? No. But definitely implausible.

Another example is the 1921 Morgan dollar.

Right now, it’s worth about $30 in a grade of Extremely Fine-40. But, when silver prices were hovering around $50 an ounce in April 2011, that same Morgan dollar also had a value of nearly $50. In other words, as bullion prices increased, the relative numismatic value became lower as silver prices edged upward. This is usually the case with all common silver coins, or what some may call junk coins.

You’re probably asking at this point how much silver is in a silver dollar.

A standard 90% silver dollars contain 0.77 ounces of silver.

So, there’s a lot of silver in a silver dollar, and that’s why common silver dollars, like the 1921 Morgan dollar, tend to react to the fluctuations in silver bullion prices.


So, Should You Buy Silver Dollars Now Or Wait?

Only you can decide when the time is right for you to buy silver dollars.

While I’m writing this article at a point when silver prices are on a downward trend, by the time you read this, silver bullion values might be heading back up.

A single piece of advice I feel safe in providing is that if you’re looking to buy coins for investment, certainly buy when prices are at their lowest and sell when they’re at their highest.

Of course, knowing when the low points and high points are may be better answered by a Magic 8 Ball than by any amount of prognosticating I or anybody else may do.

Remember all those analysts who once swore gold would soon hit $5,000 an ounce?

Well, gold prices might still reach that threshold someday, but it certainly doesn’t look that way at this moment — with gold poised to drop below $1,000 for the first time in several years. Who knows?

What we do know is this. You need to invest when the time feels right for you.

Keep this in mind: silver dollar values are higher now than they were in the 1950s and 1960s, and rare coins across the board have generally increased in value over the past few decades, too.

This doesn’t mean that all silver dollars, or all rare coins, are sound investments over the course of 5, 10, or even 15 years. But, over the span of decades, coins tend to improve in value — with very few exceptions.

So, if you’re looking to buy coins because you enjoy them and you intend to hang onto them for the long haul, there’s a chance you might make a profit when the time comes that you decide to sell your coins. But remember — the profit might not be as large as your wildest dreams fancifully envision.

In other words, don’t buy coins solely for the sake of investment (and certainly not for overnight windfalls of cash). And be wary of anyone who tells you that a certain coin is a guaranteed investment. In the world of coins, there’s no such thing as a “guaranteed investment.”

Enjoy coins for their art, their history, and the lessons they can teach us about our nation’s colorful story.

Even when it comes to silver dollars, “eating the cake” is enjoying these classic, large silver coins for their beauty and history. Any profit you make is simply the delicious icing. The chocolate buttercream icing, I might add.

Now I’m hungry for cake…


More About Silver Dollars & Investing


I'm the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!

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