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    Unearthing the Rich History of U.S. Silver Coins (1794-1978)

    Posted on July 22nd, 2020 by Joe G

    When considering U.S. silver coins, the United States silver dollar collections are revered as some of the most sought-after coin designs globally. These exquisite specimens, chiefly composed of a rich blend of 90% silver and 10% copper, graced the market from 1794 to 1935. Moreover, the period between 1971 & 1978 saw the circulation of the 40% Silver Eisenhower Dollars, which however, lack the same collectible allure.

    Here, we unfold the captivating array of designs that graced these iconic coins:

    • Flowing Hair Dollar (1794-1795) – The inception of a legend
    • Draped Bust Dollar (1795-1804) – The epitome of craftsmanship
    • Seated Liberty (1836-1873) – A tribute to freedom
    • Trade Dollars (1873-1885) – The pioneers of international trade
    • Morgan Dollar (1878-1904 & 1921) – The silver stalwart
    • Peace Dollar (1921-1935) – The harbinger of harmony
    • Eisenhower Dollar (1971-1978) – The modern-day representation
    • Silver Clad Dollars – A collector’s delight with 40% silver composition, designed exclusively for collectors.

    These illustrious coin ranges, especially those minted between 1794 and 1803, hold a special place in the hearts of both numismatists and gold and silver enthusiasts.

    The Genesis of Silver Dollars

    Venture back in time to the unveiling of the first U.S. Flowing Hair silver dollars in 1794, which are now recognized as extreme rarities with a mere 1,758 pieces crafted, as per official United States mint documentation. This fascinating inception into the realm of silver dollars is characterized by a unique light strike on the lower left quadrant of the front side, extending to the analogous area on the flip side – a hallmark of the non-parallel alignment of the coining dies.

    Transitioning to 1795, the Draped Bust dollars made their grand entry, captivating enthusiasts with the Heraldic Eagle reverse style predominantly seen in the editions minted from 1798-1803. Notably, the 1804 silver dollar enjoys an elevated status as the crown jewel of U.S. coin rarities.

    Post-1803, a hiatus ensued until 1836 when the Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design emerged, marking the revival of dollar coin minting for circulation.

    The Era of Trade Dollars

    1873 witnessed the advent of trade dollars, initially labeled as commercial dollars, created explicitly to facilitate trade transactions in the Orient, contending with the favored Mexican silver dollars in China. These hefty silver coins, weighing 420 grains, were meant to counteract the preference for Mexican counterparts that contained higher silver content, which had stymied American commerce. The U.S. trade dollars succeeded in alleviating this disparity, rejuvenating trade relationships.

    Primarily minted in the San Francisco and Carson City facilities owing to their proximity to both silver sources and the Chinese market, these trade dollars have since become a fascinating segment of numismatic collections. This period also introduced the Morgan silver dollars (1878-1904), which were conceptualized to utilize the government’s excess silver reserves, thereby crafting an expedient solution to the silver surplus issue.

    The Emergence of the Peace Dollar

    In the winter of 1921, the Peace Dollar surfaced, symbolizing harmony and gracing the market until 1935. Unfortunately, numerous Peace dollars were melted down to extract silver for the Manhattan Project during the atomic bomb’s inception during World War II. The 1921 high relief edition stands as a significant milestone in the Peace Dollar lineage.

    Transitioning to 1971, the Eisenhower Dollar emerged, abandoning silver content for a copper-nickel alloy, barring a few exclusive collector editions. These coins, featuring President Dwight D. Eisenhower, marked the end of the illustrious journey of silver dollars in 1978.

    Remember, the valuation of a silver dollar, the Kennedy half dollar, as well as silver dimes and quarters, is intrinsically linked to its date, mint mark, and preservation status. Hence, abstain from cleaning tarnished coins to retain their value.

    If you are contemplating selling your prized silver dollars in Chicago, the Chicago Gold Gallery offers the best deals, coupled with complimentary, in-person appraisals.

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