At one time silver dollars were used as collateral for silver certificates and circulated in some of the western states which allowed the circulation of hard money. However, the US government has generally struggled with the issue of the effective circulation of dollar coins in general.
The first dollar coins struck in a blend of nickel and copper were issued by the US Mint some five years after the silver content was taken out of all circulating coins. Although it contained no precious metal content, the Eisenhower dollar had a diameter of 38.1 mm, the same as that used for actual silver dollars. The Ike dollar, as it was known, was considered to be too heavy and impractical for everyday use, and although it was minted for eight years, it was not in wide circulation.
The dollar coin was made smaller in 1979, and a good example was the 26.5 mm diameter Susan B Anthony dollar. The coin’s weight was a manageable 8.1 grams, compared to the previous weight of 22.68 grams. The US Mint made a big point of pointing out how convenient the new coin was, compared to the current paper dollars and old dollar coins.
However, the public found the new Susan B Anthony dollar confusing, as it was too similar in size to the quarter dollar, which had a diameter of 24.3 mm. Because of this, production was stopped after just two years, although in 1981 the coins were minted so that collectors could obtain them, and again in 1999.
At a ceremony open to reporters and photographers, the first strike of the Eisenhower Dollar took place at the Assay Office in San Francisco, California on March 31, 1971. This represented the first silver dollars struck at the facility since 1935 and would kick off a brand her series honoring the 34th President of the United States and celebrating the moon landing.
Production was officially started by Eugene Rossides, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement and Operations, and Mary Brooks, the Director of the United States Mint.
The first coins produced were uncirculated quality on planchets of 40% silver and 60% copper. There were plans to commence the production of proof quality versions of the coin in July 1971. These were intended to be sold to collectors. Authorization had been received to strike up to 150 million of the coins in this composition, while larger scale production for circulation would take place in a composition of copper and nickel.
Sales of the collector versions of the coin to the public began on June 18, 1971. The uncirculated coins were available at $3 each, while the proof versions were priced at $10 each. In retrospect, these prices were somewhat high given the limited silver content. In the same year, the five coin proof set had been offered by the US Mint at a cost of $5 per set. Despite the pricing, sales managed to top 4 million proofs and 6 million uncirculated coins.
Today these coins are commonly available with the value mostly derived from the silver content. The exception is for highly graded pieces, such as proofs grading PR69DCAM or uncirculated pieces graded MS67 or higher.
The first official coinage within the newly formed United States of America was authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792. This Act provided for the issuance of the various denominations in copper, silver, and gold, with weights and values specified for each. The smallest silver denomination was the half dime. These small, thin silver pieces circulated throughout the early days of the country and held an important place within the monetary system.
The first design used for the denomination featured a rendition of Liberty with Flowing Hair, which is believed to have been created by Robert Scot. The simple yet beautiful design last for only a few years before the design was altered. The reverse design, which featured a bald eagle within an open wreath would briefly carry over to the following series.
The second design for the half dime featured a different rendition of Liberty. This design is said to have been based on a portrait by Gilbert Stuart, which was executed by Robert Scot. A much more graceful looking Liberty with a draped bust and lightly flowing hair was depicted. As mentioned, the same reverse design was initially used, but this was eventually replaced by a heraldic eagle.
After these changes, the coin would be minted at the turn of the century and for a few ensuing years. Despite the short duration, it is highly prized and collected by numismatists and ardent students of history.
In 1985 Congress authorized American Silver Eagles for the first time. US Silver Eagles were minted for the first time the very next year. This action created a popular method for investing in silver by members of the general public.
Silver coins are thought by coin experts to be a good investment. They are an inexpensive investment for beginning investors compared to gold, and each coin has a legal tender face value. The Silver Eagles can be purchased in several different ways, including, uncirculated, proof and bullion. Coin collectors are most likely to purchase the uncirculated versions. Please note that the bullion versions do not contain mint marks.
Beginning investors should speak with a financial consultant concerning the pros and cons of investing in gold or silver. This will give the beginner the information they need to decide if they should invest in silver; whether it be physical or paper.
Without a doubt, the purchase of paper will be less difficult than purchasing physical silver. The purchase of physical silver will require that the investor have genuine coins in hand. Besides coins are also bulk methods of acquiring silver, which include 90% junk silver coins. These are older coins, which were once used in circulation, but now contain value based on their metallic content. Another bulk method is 100 oz silver bars, which are also available at a low premium since the silver does not need to be minted into coins, but only refined into bar form.
A program of producing presidential dollars in the U.S. was started as a result of a bill passed in 2005. It stated that until all the U.S. presidents were represented with a $1 coin this practice would continue, although the program has changed since its inception.
During the years 2007-2011, so many coins were produced that the national mint no longer produces very many. A stockpile has been created, so now only collectors can obtain the newest ones. With Ronald Reagan, there will be an end of the creation of presidential dollars.
Each coin represents two figures in relief: a president and the Statue of Liberty. On the latter side are ‘$1’ and ‘United States of America.’ The other side shows the honored president. In a departure from current minting practice, there is also edge lettering on these coins. This was a common sight two centuries ago, but not today. The edge lettering includes the words ‘E Pluribus Unum’, thirteen stars, and also the date the coin was produced.
The life of this program has been determined by a lack of public demand for $1 coins. The government favors it, however, because printing coins with past presidents on them is an educational tool. Teachers and parents can show their children images of past leaders and teach them the names.
A few John Adams variant were produced with errors, making them rare and costly to obtain. If you find one of these with plain edges, hold on to it.