Each silver investor purchases their coins with a specific interest in mind. Some collectors have faith that the value of silver will rise over time and therefore consider silver coins a vehicle for investing in the precious metal itself. For these investors, it often makes sense to either buy coins with the highest purity possible or buy simple silver bars. Other investors collect coins for their beauty and historical significance.
In many ways, silver dollars strike an excellent balance between these two investment motives. U.S. silver dollars are struck with .900 pure silver bullion, which means that they increase in value as the spot price of silver goes up. At the same time, many collectors love the beautiful and historical designs on these coins, which frequently feature hallmarks of American coinage and iconography.
Hero Bullion offers a wide variety of 90% pure silver dollars. Some silver dollars have been circulated, while others are offered in their original Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) condition. Investing in silver dollars gives collectors the opportunity to capitalize on the price of silver while also adding unique historical coins to their silver stock.
This page should help investors understand everything they need to know about silver dollars, including some of the most popular silver dollars, pros and cons of buying silver dollars, and more.
History of Silver Dollars
While the history of silver dollars goes all the way back to the beginning years of the United States, the silver dollar as we know it in this guide functionally ceased production in 1965. Hero Bullion offers several silver dollars with 90% silver. In 1965, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1965. This act reduced the silver content in silver dollars from 90% to 40%. That’s right – the silver dollar coins you see now are not made using primarily silver.
But for a relatively brief time in U.S. history, our silver dollar coins were made using an exceptional purity of 90%. Congress noted a shortage of silver and spiking demand for silver dollars as primary reasons behind the move to reduce silver content in the denominational coins.
One of the most in-demand silver dollar coins, the Morgan Dollar, is partially responsible for the explosive popularity of silver dollars in the United States. The coin was first produced in 1878 and continued production until 1904. It briefly resumed distribution by the U.S. Mint in 1921 and has since returned in commemorative form in 2021. Morgan Dollars are still appreciated by collectors today, and it isn’t hard to see why. They occupy a special place in American bullion history, having been some of the most popular circulated 90% pure silver coins in the country.
Dollars today contain no silver. The 40% silver dollars were Eisenhower dollars and made only for proof and commemorative sets. The last silver dollar containing silver that was meant for circulation was minted in 1935 (the peace dollar). The Sacagawea and presidential dollars more recently minted contained no silver. Many investors have turned to silver dollars from the early-1900s as a way to access high quantities of pure silver without paying some of the insane premiums associated with bullion silver coins like the American Silver Eagle. The U.S. Mint has also capitalized on the popularity of coins like the Morgan Dollar by releasing high-purity commemorative versions of these classic silver pieces.
Types of Silver Dollars
There are a number of different 90% pure silver dollar coins available for purchase. Generally, 90 junk silver dollars were minted during the period from 1878 to 1935, since this is when Congress lowered the purity of the U.S. Mint’s circulated silver coins from 90% to 40%. One of the most interesting aspects of U.S. coinage is how the silver dollars are designed. Instead of the uniform obverse designs we see on coins from countries like Great Britain, American Silver Dollars often feature unique cultural designs on both the obverse and reverse.
In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular Silver Dollars ever distributed by the United States Mint. We’re excited to be able to offer all of the coins below for sale on the Hero Bullion website.
Morgan Silver Dollars
The Morgan Silver Dollar is likely the most popular American silver dollar ever distributed by the historic U.S. Mint. The name of the silver dollar is inspired by the designer of the coin, George T. Morgan; he first designed both the reverse and obverse of the coin in 1878. On the obverse of the coin, he provides us with a stunningly detailed depiction of Lady Liberty. Fans of U.S. history should note the importance of this iconography to American identity. Lady Liberty is meant to be the female personification of the United States in the same way Britannia represents Great Britain and its history.
Here, Lady Liberty’s profile is shown as she looks off into the distance. She wears her classic cap, as well as a crown with ‘LIBERTY’ inscribed on it. Thirteen stars line the bottom of this side of the coin, representing the original thirteen colonies, while the top is marked with the motto of the United States: E Pluribus Unum. Especially for a circulated coin, the unique design of the Morgan Silver Dollar is something we can’t help but marvel at. The level of detail on even the oldest iteration of Morgan’s original design is astounding; each hair that flows down past Lady Liberty’s neck is rendered in exceptional detail.
An American coin wouldn’t be complete without some reference to the American Bald Eagle, and this famous animal makes an appearance on the reverse of the Morgan Silver Dollar. The eagle is shown here with its wings extended into the air as it holds a bundle of arrows and an olive branch. This pose is often referred to as a heraldic eagle pose. Foliage encircles the lower half of the animal, and the reverse of the coin is inscribed with the name of the country and the denomination of the silver piece. “In God We Trust” is marked above the head of America’s most famous bird.
A little history: the period of 1878-1904 is seen as one section of morgans. Then, we see a gap until 1921 when 94 million morgans were minted. For collector purposes, we segregate 1878-1904 into one section and keep 1921 all to their own. In addition, the design was changed (although the untrained eye may not be able to tell the difference) for the period of 1878-1904 (what we call “Pre ’21 Morgans) which are a much more attractive coin. Also there is some political motive to the huge mintage we see in 1921 morgans.
The Morgan Silver Dollar remains one of the most coveted silver dollars for sale anywhere, and it’s not difficult to understand why. While the Morgan Silver Dollars we sell come from a variety of time periods, they all offer an unprecedented level of detail, and George T. Morgan’s unique design philosophy still makes these coins a favorite for investors all over the world. As always, the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins we sell are struck using their original 90% pure silver.
Peace Silver Dollars
The Peace Dollar is another 90% pure silver coin distributed by the U.S. Mint. Anthony de Francisci, a celebrated sculptor, designed both sides of this classic coin in 1921. The original design for this coin featured a broken sword; Americans quickly protested the decision, claiming that a broken sword reminded them of the concept of defeat. The result was a hastened redesign that resulted in one of the most memorable silver dollars ever created by the United States Mint.
The obverse of the Peace Silver Dollar features a novel depiction of Lady Liberty. Here, she wears a spiky crown but does not don the cap featured in the Morgan Dollar. Lady Liberty on this coin shines with a kind of youthful beauty, and her hair flows behind her as if blown by the wind. The inscription “LIBERTY” once again appears at the top of this coin. Interestingly enough, the spikes of Lady Liberty’s crown actually partially obscure the ‘B,’ a detail that adds a bit of additional liveliness to the Peace Dollar’s design. “In God We Trust” appears as an inscription extending to either side of Liberty’s neck. The year and mintmark of the coin are shown under her profile.
The reverse of the Peace Dollar is one of our favorite coinage depictions of the American Bald Eagle. The eagle is shown here sitting atop a hill and looking proudly into the distance. A powerful set of light-rays filter up from below, almost as if they’re shining a spotlight onto the American Eagle. The denomination of the coin is shown on either side of the bird, while the inscription “PEACE” sits below it. At the top of the coin, we’re shown both the name of the U.S.A. and our country’s motto, “E Pluribus Unum.”
Pros and Cons of Silver Dollars
Like with any bullion product, there are both advantages and disadvantages to investing primarily in silver dollars. Investors who want to bring as much value to their collection as possible should consider a diverse set of different silver products. Silver Dollars, especially when purchased in BU condition, remain one of the most common ways that average investors begin collecting silver. We’re personally huge fans of this strategy; silver dollar coins strike an excellent balance between purity and history, and investors who want to celebrate a rich history of beautiful U.S. coinage should consider starting with these coins.
Silver Dollars might also provide more value than collectable bullion coins. While Silver Dollars for sale are generally sold at a premium, you’re likely to pay a far smaller premium over spot for these coins than you would for an American Silver Eagle. The downside, as we’ll discuss in the sections below, is that collectors sometimes pay a premium for the collectable value of these coins, especially when they choose to buy older versions of the Morgan or Peace Dollars.
Advantages of Buying Silver Dollars
There are a few major benefits to investing in silver using American Silver Dollars:
- Spendable Currency. Since Silver Dollars are, well, still dollars, they can be spent like any other form of currency and are backed by the United States government. Some investors prefer to invest only in coins that are supported in their value by the government. In addition to being spendable currency, Silver Dollars are less likely to be minted with imperfections or heavily counterfeited.
- Low Premium Cost. While some especially rare coins will be sold at a premium for collectable value, Silver Dollars are generally considered a cheaper way to invest in silver than some other silver products. After all, many Silver Dollars have been circulated and were released in far greater numbers than bullion coins like the American Silver Eagle.
- Neat Designs. Silver Dollars offer some of the most unique old designs in the world of coinage. While these early-1900s coins might not have the level of detail provided by modern bullion collectable coins, they still provide beautiful artistic depictions of classic American icons and symbols. The intricate design of Lady Liberty on the Morgan Dollar, for example, has led to its continued status as a staple of the silver bullion industry.
Disadvantages of Buying Silver Dollars
Especially when we compare U.S. Silver Dollars for sale with other silver bullion options, there are a couple downsides to investing exclusively in silver dollars.
- Little Collectable Value. At the end of the day, Silver Dollars are valued primarily for their silver. While certain super-rare versions of these coins, such as mint mistakes and misprints, can sell for millions, the average silver dollar is typically worth a little bit more than its silver content alone.
- Low Denomination. Because each silver coin contains 90% silver, you’d have to buy quite a few silver coins to match the amount of silver contained in just one silver bar or pure silver round. For some collectors, it might not be worth the hassle to buy 20+ coins when a large silver bar could provide the same amount of silver bullion.
Final Thoughts: Why Buy Silver Dollar Coins?
There are a number of reasons why consumers each year flock to buy old American silver dollars. These coins have exciting designs that remind us of the unique cultural history of the United States. It’s impossible to deny how cool a vintage Peace or Morgan Dollar looks in any collector’s collection. Some consumers also consider cull or circulated silver dollar coins to be a cost-effective way to invest in pure silver, as these coins minted prior to 1965 were made using a whopping 90% pure silver.
Regardless of what brought you to our category page for silver dollar coins, we’re happy to help you find a silver coin that works for your investment needs.