Tag Archives: silver dollar

The Numismatist’s Corner: The Morgan Silver Dollar

Morgan Dollar ObverseThe Morgan silver dollar; one of numismatics most sought after coins. However, this beautiful coin didn’t always have the immense amount of interest it does today, in fact, at one point it was completely ignored due to silver prices and the rarity of its use. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s take a walk down memory lane and see how this iconic coin came into existence, and the reason why, despite how old these coins are, they still remain in such pristine condition.

The Morgan Dollar’s Political Beginnings

Politics is what brought the Morgan dollar into being, not public demand. The previous silver dollar had been legislated into oblivion and it was not missed at all by the public. What brought the silver dollar back into existence was the silver lobby pushing for its return. In 1878, Richard ‘Silver Dick’ Bland of Missouri along with other representatives funded by the silver industry, got the Bland-Allison act passed which authorized the minting of a new silver dollar. The act made the US Treasury purchase two to four million troy ounces of silver bullion (at market value no less) every month to be coined into dollars.

In November of 1877, about four months before the Bland-Allison act was passed, the treasury began to make designs for a new dollar coin. Mint Director Henry Linderman ordered Chief Engraver William Barber, father of the famous Charles Barber, and his assistant, George Morgan, to begin making patterns that would be used for the new coin. Morgan’s design won due to Linderman fixing the contest in Morgan’s favor since he was disappointed in the previous work of William Barber and his son Charles. Morgan recruited Philadelphia school teacher Anna Willess Williams to pose for the new design.

The “Buzzard Dollar”

Morgan’s new design featured a left facing portrait of Lady Liberty, with the reverse depicting a rather emaciated looking eagle which led to the coin being nicknamed the, “buzzard dollar” by its detractors. Like most coins of this era, this coin wasn’t without its issues. Soon after production began, someone advised the US Mint that the eagle should have seven tail feathers instead of the eight that were currently being shown on the coin. Morgan made the correction, however, this is the reason why some of the coins from the 1878 series have eight tail feathers instead of seven.

More than half a billion Morgan dollars were struck between 1878 to 1904, with production taking place at the Philadelphia mint along with New Orleans, San Francisco and Carson City. The coin returned briefly in 1921 under the terms of the Pittman act and another 86 million examples were produced at the Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver mints.

The Cinderella Morgan Dollar

Overall, 657 million Morgan dollars had been produced in 96 different date-and-mint combinations. However, a very large portion of these had been melted down over the years by the government under the Pittman Act and the Silver Act of 1942. Despite all of this melting, Americans still had more than enough Morgan Dollars for their everyday use. Because the Morgan was mainly circulated in the western part of the US, huge stockpiles of the coin remained in the US Treasury’s vault, and in private banks nationwide, which is why so many of them are so well preserved, because they saw very little to no use during their circulation.

Even when numismatics began to grow in popularity as a hobby during the 1930s, interest in other collecting areas far outpaced that of the Morgan dollar, mainly due to the high cost of silver at the time, and that the lower face-value coins that were readily available through circulation. Interestingly though, in the late 1930s someone discovered a large store of these coins in the Treasury Department’s cash room, and was paying out the uncirculated Carson City coins which had a market value of $5 or more at the time.

Truly, the coin didn’t begin really gaining popularity until the 1960s and is now one of the most pursued and desired of all classic US coins. Although many collectors find the challenge of assembling a complete date and mark set in Mint State compelling, others satisfy themselves with collecting one per year. Me, I have some dollar coins I need to sift through.

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The Top 5 Rarest US Coins

While there are many rare coins throughout the world and history, and many would debate where they would rank in rarity. Most believe in rarity based on number minted and how many are known to exist. Monetary value also has a big part to play. With that said, here is our list of the top 5 rarest US coins.

1863 Liberty Head Gold CoinNo. 5 – 1861 Liberty Head Gold Coin

This gold coin coming in at number five on our list was actually minted on accident. Late revisions for the coin were issued to the US mint but they didn’t receive word of them until after some of the coins had already been produced and put into circulation. Only two are know and in 2010 went for a cool 5.6 million dollars.

1804 Crosset Liberty Gold EagleNo. 4 – 1804 Ten Dollar Gold Piece

Less than 10 of these rare coins were ever produced, and only three are known to still currently exist today. Additionally, these coins were produced three decades after their minted year. The most recent sighting of this coin was seen in 2005 where it was sold 8.5 million dollars. These like their more rare silver dollar counterparts were mainly produced for diplomatic purposes.

1913 Liberty Head NickelNo. 3 – 1913 Liberty Nickel

Another US Mint mistake is the 1913 Liberty nickel. Produced in 1913, the liberty head nickels were produced without the US Mint knowing. Since the buffalo nickel was supposed to be produced that year, no liberty head nickels were to be minted but somehow a handful were made. Samuel Brown, an employee of the US Mint is credited for secretly minting these coins and then sneaking them out of the office. Only five are known to exist, two are exhibits in museums and the other three are part of private collections. The last time one of these nickels was at public auction was in 2010 where it fetched 3.7 million dollars.

1933 Saint Gaudens Gold Double EagleNo. 2 – 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

One of the rarest coins known, the Saint-Gaudens Double eagle was minted in 1933, but was never released into circulation due to a change in currency laws during the Great Depression. The entire run was supposedly melted down into gold bullion. However, a US Mint cashier is said to have given out some of the coins in exchange for earlier double-eagles. Outside of the two that are in the national currency collection at the Smithsonian there are two other known coins. The only known auction of the coin was handled by Sotheby’s where it fetched 7.5 million dollars.

1804 Silver DollarNo.1  – 1804 Silver Dollar

Coming in at the top of the list is the 1804 Silver Dollar also known as the Bowed Liberty Dollar. This coin is the holy grail of numismatic collectors. Currently, there are only 15 known genuine 1804 silver dollars. These rare coins were actually produced 30 years after their stamp date and used mainly for diplomatic purposes. One example is the famous King of Siam coin which can be seen in the movie, “The King and I” and in the novel, Anna and the King of Siam. This silver dollar is also one of the few coins to possess three separate classes of quality. Class I is considered the original genuine coin. Class II and III were produced illegally by an employee of the Philadelphia branch of the US Mint. All of the Class II were seized and destroyed save one which resides in the Smithsonian. Class III were also produced illegally and while the US Mint tried seizing all of these copies as well some had already been distributed to collectors.

That’s our list of the Top 5 rarest US coins, check out our collection of rare coins on our website. Think that we missed one or labeled one too high? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on .

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History of the Peace Dollar

1921_peace_dollar_satin_obvPeace dollars were minted between 1921 and 1935. They were created to celebrate America’s victory in World War I. Made of 90 percent silver, Peace dollars helped to establish the United States as a major world power.

The Peace dollar was briefly minted in 1965. However, all samples of this issue were melted down and never released to the public. The Peace dollar is the last silver dollar minted for circulation in the U.S.

The Design

The front of the coin is graced with Lady Liberty, while the reverse side depicts the image of a perched eagle. The artwork design was that of Antonio de Francisci, an Italian immigrant and sculptor. In late 1921, the Commission of Fine Arts held a competition for the design of the new silver dollar. Eight prominent sculptors were invited to participate and de Francisci won the prize. The Peace dollar includes the phrase “in god we trvst.” Many believe it to be a spelling error, but it’s actually the Latin spelling for the word trust. Therefore, it means “In God We Trust.”

Value of Peace dollar

While the Peace dollar was only minted for a short period of time, this coin is quite popular among collectors. The minimum value of a Peace dollar is $23. There are a couple rate dates, including 1921 and 1928, that are valued at $55 and $160 respectively. Most of the value of a Peace dollar is found in higher grades. This includes uncirculated or Mint State coins. The uncirculated Peace dollar is very desirable coin.

1934-S Peace dollar

The 1934-S Peace dollar is a very interesting coin. In good condition, this coin can be worth $30, in slightly better condition the coin jumps to $33. However, the uncirculated version, which is very rare, is worth more than $1,200. As you can see, subtle differences can have a large effect on the value of the coin. If you have any questions about your Peace dollar, ask a coin collector or dealer. They can help you to better understand the full value of your coin.

Unofficially Produced Coin

On August 3, 1963, Congress passed legislation to produce 45,000,000 silver dollars. The new coins were intended to be used at Nevada casinos and elsewhere in the West. However, in 1965, after much debate, congress announced that the coins were deemed trial strikes, never intended for circulation. The Mint later stated all pieces struck had been melted under heavy security.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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What Are My Coins Worth?

We often get asked the question: “What are my coins worth?” Well, the answer depends on a couple different things. For instance, your coin’s weight, metal composition and base metal prices. We’ve created this guide for people who are unfamiliar with coins but want to find out about certain coin values. Keep in mind, this is just appraisal value. It’s very difficult to tell the actual value of a coin without seeing it in person. The true value of your coin may differ slightly, depending on its condition and the current market.

Indian Penny, 1894Indian Head Cents

The Indian Head one-cent coin was produced by the United States Mint from 1859-1909. Also known as the Indian Penny, this coin displays the head of Liberty wearing a feather head dress of a Native American and the year of production. This copper penny is worth 50 cents to $3.00.

Lincoln Wheat Pennies

Lincoln wheat pennies were produced at three different mints: Philadelphia (no mintmark), Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) from 1909 to 1958. Depending on its condition, this pretty penny is worth between 2 and 5 cents. However, if you come across a very rare 1909-S VDB Lincoln wheat penny, consider yourself lucky. It can be worth between $964 and $2479!

Buffalo Nickels

The Buffalo nickel is a copper five-cent piece produced by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938. This unique coin contains a Native American on one side and an American bison on the other. Because the coin is subjected to wear, it can be worth 25 cents to $1.00.

Jefferson War Nick1943 Jefferson Silver war nickelels

From 1942 to 1945, nickel was a strategic war material for the United States. During these years, nickels were struck in a copper-silver-manganese alloy. Commonly referred to as “war nickels,” these coins are worth 50 cents to $1.00.

Barber Dimes

Barber dimes were minted between 1892 and 1916. Designed by United States Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, the term ‘dime’ comes from the French word disme, which literally means, “tenth part.” Made of 90 percent silver, these small coins can range from $1.60 to $5.00.

Roosevelt Dimes Silver

Minted after the 32nd President of the United States, Roosevelt silver dimes were issued between 1946 to 1964. Also made of 90 percent silver, these coins range from $1.50 to $2.00. Roosevelt dimes are still made for circulation by the U.S. Mint today, however, not in silver.

Standing Liberty Quarters

1925 Standing Liberty Quarter FrontProduced by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1930, the Standing Liberty quarter is made of 90 percent silver. This coin displays Liberty carrying an upraised shield in her left hand and an olive branch in her right hand. With the exception of 1923-S Standing Liberty quarters, this coin is worth between $4.00 and $10.00.

Washington Quarters Silver

Minted after the 1st President of the United States, Washington silver quarters were produced from 1932 to 1964. All quarters without mintmarks are made at the main Mint in Philadelphia. Rare mintmarks to look for include Denver (D) and San Francisco (S). Also made of 90 percent silver, this coin can range from $4.00 to $6.00.

Franklin Half Dollars

The Franklin half-dollar was issued by the United States Mint from 1948 to 1963. This fifty-cent piece features Founding Father and inventor, Benjamin Franklin, on the obverse side. The reverse side contains a small eagle to right of the liberty bell. Made of 90 percent silver, this coin is estimated between $7.00 and $15.00.

Kennedy Half DolUSA - Kennedy half dollar.lars Silver

The Kennedy half-dollar was first minted in 1964 as a memorial to the assassinated President John F. Kennedy. This fifty-cent coin is 90 percent silver and worth from $7.00 to $15.00. Between 1965 and 1969, the Kennedy half-dollar was made of 40 percent silver and can range from $3.00-$5.00.

Morgan Dollars

The Morgan dollar was issued by the United States Mint from 1878 to 1904, and then again in 1921. This coin is named after its designer, Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan. Unless you have graciously stumbled upon the 1889‑CC Morgan dollar, which is the most rare of the Carson City Mint Morgans, this coin is worth between $15.00 and $30.00.

Peace Dollars

The Peace Dollar was minted from 1921 to 1928, and again in 1934 and 1935 by the United States Mint. Numismatists began to lobby the Mint to issue a coin that memorialized the peace following World War I. This is the last U.S. dollar coin to be struck for circulation in silver and is worth between $15.00 and $25.00.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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