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The Various Types of United States Silver Coins From 1794 – 1978

Posted on July 22nd, 2020 by JoeG

One of the most highly collected coins in the world is the United States Silver Dollar. They are composed of 90% Silver & 10% Copper and were minted between 1794 to 1935. The 40% Silver Eisenhower Dollars were minted between 1971 & 1978 and are not as collectible.

The various designs were:

  • Flowing Hair Dollar 1794 -1795
  • Draped Bust Dollar 1795 -1804
  • Seated Liberty 1836 – 1873
  • Trade Dollars 1873 – 1885
  • Morgan Dollar 1878 – 1904
  • Morgan Dollar 1921
  • Peace Dollar 1921 – 1935
  • Eisenhower Dollar 1971 – 1978
    • 40% Silver & Silver Clad Silver dollars were minted for circulation.

Later-dated coins of the dollar denomination (beginning with Eisenhower dollars in 1971) are more aptly called “Ike” dollars, for with the exception of certain pieces, minted for Mint sets and Proof Sets Brown Box & Blue Envelope 40% Silver for collectors, they regular minted Eisenhower Dollars do not contain silver.

Silver dollars have various designs and are explained above in these groups. The first, early dollars minted from 1794 through 1803, is comprised of issues that appeal to two collecting disciplines: specialists and type collectors.

First Silver Dollars

The first United States Flowing Hair silver dollars, dated 1794, had a very low mintage of 1,758 pieces according to Mint records. Today the 1794 dollar is an extreme rarity.

All 1794 silver dollars are lightly struck at the lower left side of the obverse and on the corresponding part of the reverse, due to the faces of the coining dies not being aligned parallel with each other.

Draped Bust dollars were first minted in 1795. The most often seen early dollars are those of the Draped Bust obverse, Heraldic Eagle reverse style, minted 1798-1803.

The 1804 silver dollar is the most famous United States coin rarity. After the pieces dated 1803, no dollars were struck for circulation until 1836, in which year Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design was produced,

Trade Dollars

Trade dollars, first called commercial dollars, were struck in large quantities in 1873. These silver coins, 420 grains in weight and heavier than a standard United States silver dollar, were intended for use in the Orient to compete with Mexican silver dollars. Merchants in China preferred Mexican coins, which contained more silver than American dollars, and American commerce suffered. The trade dollar would remedy the situation, it was hoped, and the effort ultimately succeeded.

Most business strike trade dollars were produced in the West at the San Francisco and Carson City mints; for two reasons: proximity to China and nearness to sources of silver for coinage.

Trade dollars are fascinating to collect. Morgan silver dollars 1878 – 1904 , the most active series among older coins in American numismatics. As noted earlier in the present guide text, Morgan dollars were first minted in 1878,to help use up the oversupply of silver the government had.

What to do with this unneeded, unwanted silver? Coining it into dollars was the most expedient plan. George T. Morgan, who had come to the Mint from England in 1876, and who in 1877 had posed Philadelphia schoolteacher Anna Willess Williams and had copied her portrait for use on a pattern half dollar, was commissioned to create a new silver dollar design. Later, collectors were to know the coins as Morgan dollars.

Peace Dollar

In December 1921 a new design, the Peace dollar, appeared. Peace silver dollars were produced through 1935. Peace dollars suffered their own melting situation; tens of millions were reduced to silver bullion in order to obtain metal for use in the Manhattan Project, which saw the production of the first atomic bomb. Again, no records were kept of the dates and mintmarks destroyed. The 1921 high relief Peace Dollar is a key date in the Peace Dollar series

In 1971 a new type of dollar appeared, no longer a silver dollar, except for certain issues made for collectors, but a clad metal dollar made of copper-nickel alloy. Bearing the visage of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, these dollars were produced from 1971 through 1978, with the exception of 1975.

Date, mintmark and condition are the key factors in determining the value of a Silver Dollar ( actually any coin). Do not clean your coins no matter how tarnished they are because you will devalue them.

When looking to sell your Silver Dollars in Chicago come to Chicago Gold Gallery for the best price and free in-person appraisal.

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