Silver dollars are perhaps one of the most popular kinds of coins (outside of pennies). People have long been assembling collections of silver dollars.
Silver dollars have a following for a number of obvious reasons:
- they are old
- they are heavy
- they are large
- they are silver
- some have strikingly beautiful designs
Silver dollars have values ranging from $20 to $3,000 and up.
Silver Dollars Are Popular
Silver dollars have popularly been stowed away by many for investment reasons, and it is not uncommon to find silver dollars — often hoards of them in:
- investment plans
- hidden treasure
- coin collections
Morgan Silver Dollars
When people think of silver dollars, the common association is with the Morgan silver dollar.
This silver dollar was designed by George T. Morgan and produced by the United States Mint from 1878 through 1904, and for one final year, 1921.
Five different mints struck Morgan silver dollars:
Morgan silver dollars are the ones you will likely find in magazine ads and on televised infomercials. And they often pop up in places like catalogs for various companies. Many Morgan dollars pop up in jewelry and watches.
Morgan Silver Dollars Were Part Of Old West
Morgan dollars, which some bill as coins of the Old West (they were, in fact, popularly used throughout the West in the 1800s and early 1900s), are not as rare as some may believe.
In fact, many Morgan dollars were stashed by the thousands in bank vaults for decades, many of the coins in near-pristine condition.
That may not be hard to believe when one sees the values for many of the high-grade ‘common-date’ Morgan dollars.
However, many uncirculated Morgan dollars from the 19th and early 20th century can be had for under $50.
Rarest, Most Expensive Morgan Silver Dollars
Morgan dollars are a complex series.
To list out both the common and rare dates is not very practical here. There are dozens of scarce date-and-mintmark combinations, and many more common ones.
The rarest, most expensive of the Morgan dollars is the 1893-S, which has a base price of almost $3,000, even in very worn condition. 1921 Morgan dollars are perhaps the date most commonly encountered (priced from around $20 to $35, from worn grades up to uncirculated).
Many Morgan Silver Dollars Are Common
The bulk of silver dollars from 1900-1904 ($20 to $45) are also considered among the most common of the series, except for a few scarcer date-and-mintmark combinations produced during the time.
Many Morgan dollars minted during the 1880s and 1890s are similarly common and priced akin to the 1900-1904 and 1921 pieces.
It is best to refer to a good price guide when researching values for Morgan dollars. One of the best books on the market is A Guide Book of United States Coins, by R.S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett. Often called ‘The Red Book,’ this is a great resource for Morgan silver dollars as well as every other United States coin produced by the mint.
The Silver Dollar Has Other Designs
Other silver dollars include:
- Flowing Hair dollar (1794-1795)
- Bust dollar (1795-1804)
- Seated Liberty dollar (1836-1873)
- Trade dollar (1873-1885)
Few non-collectors have heard of these coins. Even among coin collectors and investors, while popular (and quite scarce), they do not seem to receive the same attention as Morgan silver dollars.
But take my word for it, these designs are highly sought after by many collectors and investors. There are whole coin collecting groups and clubs dedicated to studying these very coins.
Peace Silver Dollars
Peace dollars (1921-1935) are about as popular and widely collected as Morgan silver dollars.
The most expensive date is the 1921, which has a very high relief (the thickness of the design stands prouder to the coin than on other Peace dollar issues).
The coins start at around $100 for the most worn grade of the 1921, and prices climb over $250 to $300 for uncirculated specimens.
Peace dollars struck from 1922-1926 are the most commonly encountered, and many cost between $20 to $30 in lightly worn condition to lower uncirculated grades.
The Eisenhower Non-Silver Dollar
Eisenhower dollars (1971-1978) are often grouped into the ‘silver dollar’ category. While the U.S. Mint did strike some Eisenhower dollars in a 40% silver clad composition, none were ever struck in silver for circulation.
All those which were struck for circulation were minted in a copper-nickel clad composition. None of the Eisenhower dollars are considered rare, and most can be had in uncirculated and proof varieties for $5 to $15 each.
Susan B. Anthony Dollars
The last of the dollars which, as some would say, ‘look silver,’ is the Susan B. Anthony dollar, struck from 1979-1981 and again in 1999. Susan B. Anthony dollars have never received a whole lot of attention in the coin world, and among the general populace they were virtually snubbed altogether.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar has been popularly dubbed the ‘Carter Quarter’ for being struck on President Carter’s watch. It was widely mistaken for the quarter because of its close resemblance in size, shape, color, and design to the Washington quarter.
During the 1990s, certain sectors of commerce (such as the transportation industry) used dollar coins. This reintroduced the dollar coin to the general public.
By 1999, such circulation of the Susan B. Anthony dollar necessitated the striking of millions of Susan B. Anthony dollars to satisfy demand until the production of the golden-colored Sacagawea dollar in 2000.
The 1964 Silver Dollar — Illegal?
Have you ever heard of the 1964 silver dollar?
Bearing the same design as the Peace dollar of 1921-1935, the 1964 silver dollar (which was struck at the Denver mint) was ultimately never placed into circulation. In fact, the U.S. government claims to have melted down all of the more than 300,000 1964-D silver dollars.
However, it is highly speculated that at least a few escaped melting, and therefore it is thought that an unknown small quantity still exist today. A rare coin, huh? Not officially, and you will not find any at the local dealer or at any auction.
The 1964-D Peace dollar is considered illegal to own, and if the government finds out you have possession of one, the United States will confiscate it!
More About U.S. Silver Dollars
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 CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), 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 also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!