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The United States Silver Dollar
The actual word "Dollar" evolves from the German Thaler, the name given to the first large-sized European silver coin. Designed as a substitute for the gold Florin, which was a gold denomination that originated in Florence, Italy in the year 1252.
It was in 1484 that Archduke Sigismund of Tyrol issued the first truly revolutionary silver coin, the half Guldengroschen of roughly 15½ grams. This was a very rare coin, almost a trial piece, but it did circulate so successfully that demand could not be met. So popular did these large silver coins become during the 16th century that many other countries struck similar pieces, giving them names derived from “thaler”. In the Netherlands the coin was called Rijksdaalder, in Denmark Rigsdaler, in Italy Tallero, in Poland Talar, in France Jocandale, in Russia Jefimok. All these names are abbreviations of “Joachimsthaler.”
Until the discovery of the great silver deposits in Mexican and South American mines, the mint with the greatest output of large silver coins was that of Joachimsthal in the Bohemian Erzgebirge.
The Spanish dollar or peso (literally, "weight") is a silver coin that was minted in the Spanish Empire after a Spanish currency reform in 1497. Through widespread use in the Americas and the Far East, it was nearly a world currency by the late 18th century.
The U.S. dollar derives from the Spanish eight-reales coin which was composed of just under one ounce of silver. This coin was popular among American colonists, who called it the Spanish dollar, the name having derived from a German coin of similar size and composition known as the thaler.
The dollar was unanimously chosen by the Congress of the Confederation of the United States on July 6, 1785 as the money unit for the United States.
On April 2, 1792 the Coinage Act passed by the United States Congress authorized the silver dollar, and the first appearances came to be in 1794 after being struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
The first dollar coins issued by the United States Mint were of the same size and composition as the Spanish dollar and even after the American Revolutionary War the Spanish and U.S. silver dollars circulated side by side in the U.S.
Early dollar coins (1794–1803, 1804)
The U.S. Mint produced silver dollar coins from 1794 to 1803, then stopped regular production of silver dollars until 1836. Original silver dollars from this period are highly prized by coin collectors and are exceptionally valuable, especially the 1804 silver dollar, which is one of the rarest and most famous coins in the world. The Mint ceased production of silver dollars in 1803, and the 1804 silver dollar was not actually minted until 1834, when the U.S. Department of State decided that a few coins with the unusual date of 1804 might make excellent gifts to rulers in Asia in exchange for trade advantages. Only 15 silver dollars with the date of 1804 are known to exist; in 1999, one of them sold at auction for more than $4 million.
The first U.S. Mint silver dollar design was called the Flowing Hair which ran from 1794-1795 and here we begin...
Flowing Hair
1794-1795
Each die was individually hand made and because of this blanks were weighed and then the dollar was struck. Any overweight pieces usually were filed to remove silver content. If a coin at this time (1794-1795) was under weight some were adjusted with an insertion of what is called a silver plug right in the center of the black planchet these plugs were 8mm in size. Designed by Robert Scot.
1794: 1,758 minted (84 certified by PCGS and 33 by NGC)
1795: 160,295 minted (1,639 certified by PCGS and 848 by NGC)
Draped Bust
1795-1804
The Draped bust came to be as a new design which was more detailed and eye appealing, the Obverse was designed by Robert Scot and the Reverse by John Eckstein.
1795: 42,738 minted and with this year came the “Small Eagle reverse”, which had an off-centered bust and a centered bust.
1796: 72,920 minted there came more types one which is designated as...
Small date, small letters
Small date, large letters
Large date small letters
1797: 7,776 minted there were again more varieties such as the...
10 stars left, 6 Right
9 stars left 7 right large letters
9 stars left 7 right large letters
9 stars left 7 right small letters
1798: 327,536 minted
Knob 9, 5 vertical lines
Knob 9, 4 Vertical lines
Knob 9, 10 Arrows
Pointed 9, Close date
Pointed 9, Wide date
Pointed 9, 5 Vertical Lines
Pointed 9, 10 Arrows
Pointed 9, 4 Berries
1799: 423,515 minted
The over date 99 over 98 15 star reverse
99 Over 98 13 star reverse
Irregular date 15 star reverse
Irregular date 13 star reverse
Normal date
8 stars left, 5 Right
1800: 220,920 minted
Very wide date, low 8
“Dotted date” (which was from die breaks)
12 Arrows
Normal dies
AMERICAI
1801: 54,454 minted
1802: 41,650 minted
2 over 1, Narrow date
2 over 1, Wide date
Narrow normal date
Proof restrike
1803: 85,634 minted
Small 3
Large 3
Proof Restrike 4 known
1804: First reverse, original (there are 8 known)
Second reverse, restrike (there are 6 known)
Second reverse, restrike that has plain edge (1 in Smithsonian)
In 1804, United States Mint records indicate that 19,750 silver dollars were struck. However, in keeping with common Mint practice at the time, these were all minted from old but still-usable dies dated 1803, and are indistinguishable from the coins produced the previous year. 1804-dated silver dollars did not appear until 1834, when the U.S. Department of State was creating sets of coins to present as gifts to certain rulers in Asia in exchange for trade advantages.
Only 15 silver dollars with the date of 1804 are known to exist; in 1999, one of them sold at auction for more than $4 million.
Gobrecht
1836-1839
The mint director in this year was R.M. Patterson and it was he who ordered Christian Gobrecht to start preparations for the new dies based on a design that Thomas Sully and Titian Peale had created. And so he did and the first obverse die date to be bore was 1836 and the design was lady Liberty seated down and above the date was the name C. Gobrecht F. The Gobrecht silver dollars were pattern coins in which were never meant for circulation, these coins are very valuable and scarce with PCGS showing only 296 being certified for dates 1836 and 1839 and NGC has certified 247 for 1836, 1838, and 1839 dates.
1836: Mintage of 1,600 with an estimated 100 proofs being minted
1838: Proofs only with an estimated 100 being minted
1839: Proofs only with an estimated 100 being minted
Seated Liberty
1840-1873
Seated Liberty was the first regular issue dollar created for circulation after the year 1804 where 19,750 coins were minted bearing the date 1803. This coin was very popular although mintage remained still low only exceeding the minting of a million or more 2 times. The reasoning for the erratic mintage numbers every year was due to the silver deposits handing silver in to the mints. If silver was large amounts, then the mintage numbers were high, if small amounts were handed in then the mintages were low. By 1853 the silver content in these issues were more than face value of these big silver pieces and all lower denominations such as Half dollar, Quarter dollar, dime, and half dime had the silver content lowered in each piece because the price of silver had risen and so on these denominations arrows were added on the bottom obverse to signify change in weight on all except the dollar. Issues after that being minted were not seen for circulation in America because of the export trade to other nations and stayed this way through the late 1860’s.
This coin design was created and carried out by Christian Gobrecht, the same man who made the “token coin” or “patter piece” “Gobrecht Dollar from 1836-1839. The obverse was changed only slightly as he changed the reverse very noticeably from a flying eagle to an eagle sitting up on an olive branch holding arrows.
Of all the “Silver Dollar” issues this one issued in proof is my favorite for beauty and lure.
1840: Mintage of 61,005
1841: Mintage of 173,000
1842: Mintage of 184,618
1843: Mintage of 165,100
1844: Mintage of 20,000
1845: Mintage of 24,500
1846: Mintage of 110,600
1846-O: Mintage of 59,000
1847: Mintage of 140,750
1848: Mintage of 15,000
1849: Mintage of 62,600
1850: Mintage of 7,500
1850-O: Mintage of 40,000
1851: Mintage of 1,300
1852: Mintage of 1,100
1853: Mintage of 46,110
1854: Mintage of 33,140
1855: Mintage of 26,000
1856: Mintage of 63,500
1857: Mintage of 94,000
1858: Proof only estimated at 300
1859: Mintage of 255,700 – 800 Proofs
1859-O: Mintage of 360,000
1859-S: Mintage of 20,000
1860: Mintage of 217,600 – 1,330 Proofs
1860-O: Mintage of 515,000
1861: Mintage of 77,500 – 1,000 Proofs
1862: Mintage of 11,540 – 550 Proofs
1863: Mintage of 27,200 – 460 Proofs
1864: Mintage of 30,700 – 470 Proofs
1865: Mintage of 46,500 – 500 Proofs
1866 “no motto”: 2 known
1866 “motto”: Mintage of 48,900 – 725 Proofs
1867: Mintage of 46,900 – 625 Proofs
1868: Mintage of 162,100 – 600 Proofs
1869: Mintage of 423,700 – 600 Proofs
1870: Mintage of 415,000 – 1,000 Proofs
1870-CC: Mintage of 11,758
1870-S: Mintage estimated at 12
1871: Mintage of 1,073,800 – 960 Proofs
1871-CC: Mintage of 1,376
1872: Mintage of 1,105,500 – 950 Proofs
1872-CC: Mintage of 3,150
1872-S: Mintage of 9,000
1873: Mintage of 293,000 – 600 Proofs
1873-CC: Mintage of 2,300
1873-S: Mintage of 700 (never seen before although mint records record 700 being minted)
Trade
1873-1885
After the beautiful “Seated Liberty” series our nation needed to compete with the world commerce, so we designed the big Trade dollar which was ordered in fact to be issued for the use in the Orient. The reasoning the United States thought of this coin for the Orient goes back further then 1873, it actually goes back to the 1850’s when we developed a very stable trade in commerce with the Far East, especially from our main ports in New York, San Francisco, and Boston. You see, the Chinese merchants really did not like gold and wanted silver, so to compete with the Spanish American silver coinage, particularly the “Spanish milled dollars.” These Spanish silver coins where minted in Mexico and South America due to the huge silver deposits found there and therefore these coins were actually accepted as the “American” dollar is now worldwide.
Before the Trade dollar was recognized as the “Orient” coin used for trade world wide we go to the year 1859 where in San Francisco the mint issued the Seated Liberty Dollar strictly for trade with area Chinese merchants in mind to export across seas to the Home land (China).
So, through years of negotiating and gaining purpose to actually mint a Silver coin with more “grains” of silver strictly for the Orient the Government finally decided on the Trade dollar (a significant name) in 1873, which weighed 7.5 more grains of silver opposed to the Seated Liberty series. Now the Orient would not have to pay a premium on the Spanish silver dollar, they had what they wanted which was an American silver dollar designed for use in the Orient. Commerce would boom!
Chief Engraver at the time was William Barber and he designed what would be called the Trade dollar, an image depicting Miss Liberty sitting on bales of merchandise facing China from the United States.
1873: Mintage of 396,635 – 865 Proofs
1873-CC: Mintage of 124,500
1873-S: Mintage of 703,000
1874: Mintage of 987,100 – 700 Proofs
1874-CC: Mintage of 1,373,200
1874-S: Mintage of 2,549,000
1875: Mintage of 218,200 – 700 Proofs
1875-CC: Mintage of 1,573,700
1876: Mintage of 455,000 – 1,150 Proofs
1876-CC: Mintage of 509,000
1876-S: Mintage of 5,227,000
1877: Mintage of 3,039,200 – 510 Proofs
1877-CC: Mintage of 534,000
1877-S: Mintage of 9,519,000
1878: Proof only 900
1878-CC: Mintage of 97,000
1878-S: Mintage of 4,162,000
1879: Proof only 1,541
1880: Proof only 1,987
1881: Proof only 960
1882: Proof only 1,097
1883: Proof only 979
1884: Proof only 10
1885: Proof only 5
Morgan
1878-1921
After 1873 the gold dollar was the universal “American” coin for that denomination, not the silver dollar, and in 1878 the act known as the Bland-Allison act was authorized giving the United States authority and meaning to mint the Silver dollar for commerce and not just “commercial use” for exporting. And so a student of Wyon who worked for the Royal mint of London was called upon to design a new American coin design, the man was George T. Morgan and the design would be known as the most popular coin in coin collecting history even today, the Morgan Dollar!
There are over 100 varieties known for this series. That is amazing! Rare and famous dates include 1884-CC, 1884-O, 1889-CC, 1893-CC, 1893-S, and 1895 were it is said to be believed by experts that all business strike coins (for 1895) were melted down and never seen to this day.
The Morgan dollar is a historic coin, this is the coin old Cowboys played poker for and robbed banks and trains for. This is the coin on which the old west was built and within its peripheral lay a mirror to our nations past. Although it’s not the most beautiful and rare series, it sure should be appreciated for its connection to our history and that is why this remains the most famous of them all.
1878, 8 Feathers: Mintage of 149,500 – 500 Proofs
1878, 7 Feathers: Mintage of 9,759,300 – 250 Proofs
1878-CC: Mintage of 2,212,000
1878-S: Mintage of 9,774,000
1879: Mintage of 14,806,000 – 1,100 Proofs
1879-CC: Mintage of 756,000
1879-O: Mintage of 2,887,000
1879-S: Mintage of 9,110,000
1880: Mintage of 12,600,000 – 1,355 Proofs
1880-CC: Mintage of 591,000
1880-O: Mintage of 5,305,000
1880-S: Mintage of 8,900,000
1881: Mintage of 9,163,000 – 984 Proofs
1881-CC: Mintage of 296,000
1881-O: Mintage of 5,708,000
1881-S: Mintage of 12,760,000
1882: Mintage of 11,100,000 – 1,100 Proofs
1882-CC: Mintage of 1,133,000
1882-O: Mintage of 6,090,000
1882-S: Mintage of 9,250,000
1883: Mintage of 12,290,000
1883-CC: Mintage of 1,204,000
1883-O: Mintage of 8,725,000
1883-S: Mintage of 6,250,000
1884: Mintage of 14,070,000 – 875 Proofs
1884-CC: Mintage of 1,136,000
1884-O: Mintage of 9,730,000
1884-S: Mintage of 3,200,000
1885: Mintage of 17,787,000 – 930 Proofs
1885-CC: Mintage of 228,000
1885-O: Mintage of 9,185,000
1885-S: Mintage of 1,497,000
1886: Mintage of 19,963,000 – 886 Proofs
1886-O: Mintage of 10,710,000
1886-S: Mintage of 750,000
1887: Mintage of 20,290,000 – 710 Proofs
1887-O: Mintage of 11,550,000
1887-S: Mintage of 1,771,000
1888: Mintage of 19,183,100 – 832 Proofs
1888-O: Mintage of 12,150,000
1888-S: Mintage of 657,000
1889: Mintage of 21,726,000 – 811 Proofs
1889-CC: Mintage of 350,000
1889-O: Mintage of 11,875,000
1889-S: Mintage of 700,000
1890: Mintage of 16,802,000 – 590 Proofs
1890-CC: Mintage of 2,309,041
1890-O: Mintage of 10,701,000
1890-S: Mintage of 8,230,373
1891: Mintage of 8,693,556 – 650 Proofs
1891-CC: Mintage of 1,618,000
1891-O: Mintage of 7,954,529
1891-S: Mintage of 5,296,000
1892: Mintage of 1,036,000 – 1,245 Proofs
1892-CC: Mintage of 1,352,000
1892-O: Mintage of 2,744,000
1892-S: Mintage of 1,200,000
1893: Mintage of 378,000 – 792 Proofs
1893-CC: Mintage of 677,000 – 12 Proofs estimated
1893-O: Mintage of 300,000
1893-S: Mintage of 100,000
1894: Mintage of 110,000 – 972 Proofs
1894-O: Mintage of 1,723,000
1894-S: Mintage of 1,260,000
1895: Mintage of 12,000 – 880 Proofs
1895-O: Mintage of 450,000
1895-S: Mintage of 400,000
1896: Mintage of 9,976,000 – 762 Proofs
1896-O: Mintage of 4,900,000
1896-S: Mintage of 5,000,000
1897: Mintage of 2,822,000 – 731 Proofs
1897-O: Mintage of 4,004,000
1897-S: Mintage of 5,825,000
1898: Mintage of 5,884,000 – 735 Proofs
1898-O: Mintage of 4,400,000
1898-S: Mintage of 4,102,000
1899: Mintage of 330,000 – 846 Proofs
1899-O: Mintage of 12,290,000
1899-S: Mintage of 2,562,000
1900: Mintage of 8,830,000 – 912 Proofs
1900-O: Mintage of 12,590,000
1900-S: Mintage of 3,540,000
1901: Mintage of 6,962,000 – 813 Proofs
1901-O: Mintage of 13,320,000
1901-S: Mintage of 2,284,000
1902: Mintage of 7,994,000
1902-O: Mintage of 8,636,000
1902-S: Mintage of 1,530,000
1903: Mintage of 4,652,000 – 755 Proofs
1903-O: Mintage of 4,450,000
1903-S: Mintage of 1,241,000
1904: Mintage of 2,788,000 – 650 Proofs
1904-O: Mintage of 3,720,000
1904-S: Mintage of 2,304,000
1921: Mintage of 44,690,000 – 250 Proofs estimated
1921-D: Mintage of 20,345,000
1921-S: Mintage of 21,695,000 – Rumor that they actually exist
Peace
1921-1935
In 1921 after 86,730,000 Morgan dollars had been minted the Government decided to prepare a new design that actually was prepared that same year and released with the same date. The design would be called the Peace dollar and the creator was a man named Anthony de Francisci who was in fact a medalist who created this dollar design with it being a “commemorative” out come, but as history was proven it was circulated as a dollar but this was issued without congressional sanction. Super rare and famous dates from this series include the 1921 and 1922 issues with a total between both of only 25 proof coins.
1921: Mintage of 1,006,473 – 15 Proofs estimated
1922: Mintage of 51,737,000 – 10 Proofs estimated
1922-D: Mintage of 15,063,000
1922-S: Mintage of 17,475,000
1923: Mintage of 30,800,000
1923-D: Mintage of 6,811,000
1923-S: Mintage of 19,020,000
1924: Mintage of 11,811,000
1924-S: Mintage of 1,728,000
1925: Mintage of 10,198,000
1925-S: Mintage of 1,610,000
1926: Mintage of 1,939,000
1926-D: Mintage of 2,348,700
1926-S: Mintage of 6,980,000
1927: Mintage of 848,000
1927-D: Mintage of 1,268,900
1927-S: Mintage of 866,000
1928: Mintage of 360,649
1928-S: Mintage of 1,632,000
1934: Mintage of 954,057
1934-D: Mintage of 1,569,500
1934-S: Mintage of 1,011,000
1935: Mintage of 1,576,000
1935-S: Mintage of 1,964,000
1964-D: Mintage of 316,076 (All said to have been destroyed)