Silver dollars are some of the most popular silver coins bought, sold and traded in the U.S. today. The intrigue of these coins is due to a few factors, including the age, the coin’s history, the rarity and the significance of the designs. Because these coins are condition sensitive, pristine examples of these coins can sell at a significant premium over the silver value of the coins. On the other hand, when the coins are in less than stellar condition, you should expect to receive less when you sell your silver dollars. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most common issues that we see with silver dollars and how the various issues affect the price of silver dollars. We’ll address each of the issues in ascending order, from least important to most important.
The field of a silver dollar is the blank space between the design or image on the coin and the edge of the coin. This is typically one of the best places to have an issue, and has less of an impact on the value of your coin than the other issues we’ll described below. It’s common for coins to have bag marks in the field, even with uncirculated silver dollars. While it’s preferable to have issues on the reverse side of the coin as opposed to the obverse, or front of the coin, minor issues have relatively little impact on the price of your silver dollars.
High Point Issues
All coins, no matter when they were minted have high points that are more susceptible to damage and wear than other parts of the coin. With respect to silver dollars, the cheek and hairlines of Lady Liberty on the obverse side of the coin and the eagle’s wings and breast feathers on the reverse side of the coin tend to exhibit the most issues. Those coins with greater wear and more evident issues, especially on the cheek and hairlines of Lady Liberty, tend to be in less demand than coins with merely field issues. The aesthetics of a coin is also a contributing factor toward its value, so even if the coin is otherwise in good condition, heavy marks or scratches on the high points can significantly reduce the appeal and value of your coins.
Generally speaking, the rim of a silver dollar is less important than the high points and field, but rims that have significant issues, such as heavy dents, nicks and gouges are in less demand than silver dollars with the aforementioned issues. Rim issues can result from general circulation, dropping the coin, a mint error, or intentional defacing of the coin. If you happen to have a mint error that includes perceived damage to the rim, such as a clipped rim, you may have a rarity on your hands as opposed to a damaged coin, so be sure to have your coin evaluated by a coin dealer.
Even though it’s counterintuitive, you should never clean a coin, as it can significantly reduce its value. Even coins that have substantial dirt, tarnishing or toning should be kept in their original condition. The cleaning of coins is frowned upon in the industry; so much so that some third party professional grading services (TPGS) will not grade a coin that has been cleaned, as they consider the coin to be altered. Other TPGS will grade the coin, but will only do so with a qualifier, that may state that the coin has been cleaned, altered, or “whizzed.” A whizzed coin is a coin that has been buffed or polished. Among all of the issues described above, cleaned coins will reduce the overall value of your silver dollars the most.
In conclusion, we’ve described a few common issues with silver dollars that can significantly affect the value of your coins. The least important issue involves minor issues to the field of the coin, followed by issues to the high points of the coin. Next are issues with the rim of the coin, and last but not least, are issues arising from cleaning or polishing of the coins. Whether you’re interested in buying or selling silver dollars, it’s important to know the major factors that affect the price of silver dollars before you do so.