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What You Need to Know When Selling Old Silver Dollars

It’s important to be well informed when selling old silver dollars, as knowledge is power, so in this post, we’re going to briefly discuss a few guidelines that should help you to receive top dollar when you transact with a silver coin dealer.

For purposes of this discussion, we’re referring to old silver dollars minted in 1935 and earlier. Most silver dollars that individuals are interested in selling were minted from 1878 – 1935, so we’ll focus on these coins in this post. We’ll discuss silver dollars minted prior to 1878 in a subsequent article.

Quite possibly the most well known and recognized U.S. silver dollar is the Morgan silver dollar. These coins were minted from 1878 – 1904, and then again in 1921. Mints that produced these coins are Carson City, San Francisco, Denver, New Orleans and Philadelphia. The mint location of the coin can be found by searching for a mint mark on the reverse side of the coin. The mint mark is located toward the bottom of the coin, near the middle, directly below the eagle’s tail feathers. Coins without mint marks were minted in Philadelphia. Philadelphia minted coins are some of the highest minted Morgan silver dollars. Other mint marks include “CC,” “S,” “D,” and “O.” All coins minted in Carson City are lower mintage coins that sell for a premium, while coins produced at other mints may or may not be key date coins, depending on the number minted.

Another interesting factor is that while some coins may be common date coins in average circulated condition, the same coin may sell for a premium in high end condition. The reason for this disparity has to do with the “strike” of the coin. This is the process of actually minting the coins. Some mints were known to have relatively weak “strikes” in certain years, making it difficult to find coins in high end condition. As you would expect, a nice example of a difficult to find coin will sell for a premium.

As it relates to a coin’s condition, the process is somewhat subjective; however, there are a couple of objective factors to take into consideration. The condition of high points on the coin will help to determine the coin’s condition. Typically coins that have little to no wear along Lady Liberty’s hair line and on the eagle’s breast feathers on the reverse side of the coin are higher end coins. Also, the extent of original mint luster on the front and reverse side of the coin will determine if the coin has been in circulation, and if so, if it was lightly or heavily circulated.

Peace silver dollars were minted from 1921 – 1935, with 1921 being a low mintage year. Considering the rarity of the coin, many individuals believe that these coins were first minted in 1922. The lowest mintage coin in the series is the 1928 Peace dollar minted in Philadelphia. These are the two most well known and recognized key dates in the set. Peace silver dollars were minted in three locations; Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver. While Peace dollars have fewer key dates than Morgan silver dollars, some examples of Peace silver dollars sell for a premium in high end condition. The mint mark for these coins can be found on the reverse side of the coin below the word “ONE.” High points on the coin that are typically the first to show wear are Lady Liberty’s hair on the front of the coin and the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse side of the coin.

Hopefully the above information will assist when selling old silver dollars to a silver coin dealer. If your coin dealer of choice doesn’t appear to be aware of the factors that determine the value of Morgan and Peace silver dollars, we recommend that you look elsewhere, as dealing with an informed coin dealer can help you to receive considerably more for your old silver dollars.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis