What You Need to Know to Successfully Buy Silver Dollars by the Pound
There are many ways to buy Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and one that has become more popular in recent years is to buy silver dollars by the pound. In fact, we’ve recently had customers reach out to ask our opinion if an offer being made by other dealers was fair or not. The more we investigated it, the more we realized that many of the online coin dealers or dealers that advertise in print media were charging, in our opinion, excessive prices for these coins. In this article, we’re going to briefly address some factors to consider so that you’re not overpaying when you choose to purchase silver dollars by the pound.
What is a Pound of Silver Dollars
We’ll begin our discussion with what constitutes a pound of silver dollars. The weight of an uncirculated Morgan or Peace dollar is 26.7 grams. Coins that have been in circulation and exhibit wear may vary slightly in weight, but typically speaking, unless excessively worn, you’re probably not looking at difference of greater than .2 grams.
If you take 17 silver dollars and multiply this figure by the weight of an uncirculated silver dollar, you arrive at 453.9 grams or 16.21 ounces. Even if we assume that the coins have slightly more than average wear and are closer to 26.5 grams, this still puts you at 450.5 grams or 16.08 ounces. Only if the coins are excessively worn would you expect the combined weight to be less than 16 ounces.
In viewing various ads and offerings, there appears to be consistency with respect to the number of coins you’ll receive in a pound of silver dollars, but there are a few other factors to consider.
How Much Silver is in a Pound of Silver Dollars
As we’ve discussed in prior articles, precious metals are measured in troy ounces versus standard ounces. A troy ounce is composed of 31.1 grams while a traditional or standard ounce consists of 28 grams. This difference is worth noting and can make a big difference in how many ounces of silver you receive when you buy silver dollars. In fact, the difference is approximately 11%.
For illustration purposes, let’s assume that you have 17 silver dollars with little to no wear, which are 26.7 grams a piece. Keep in mind that these coins are 90% silver, which gives you 24.03 grams of pure silver in a Morgan or Peace silver dollar. To arrive at the
number of troy ounces in a silver dollar, divide 24.03 by 31.1 (remember, there’s 31.1 grams in a troy ounce of silver), which is .774. In other words, silver dollars contain slightly more than three-quarters of an ounce of silver..
If we take .774 and multiply this figure by 17 (the number of silver dollars in a pound), we arrive at 13.158 troy ounces of silver. This can be a bit deceiving because on the surface it appears as though you’re receiving 17 ounces of silver when buying a pound of silver dollars. It’s important to know exactly how much silver you’re receiving when making this type of purchase.
Premiums Vary on a Pound of Silver Dollars
It’s important to remember that Morgan and Peace silver dollars are numismatic coins, which is a fancy word for saying collectible. In other words, they trade at prices above their underlying silver content. There’s no hard and fast rule as to what you should pay for silver dollars, as premiums and demand are always changing on silver dollars, but as a general rule, if you’re paying much over twice the underlying silver value, then you may be paying a bit too much.
It’s also important to keep in mind the type of silver dollars you’re purchasing, as they’re not all created equally. Typically speaking, Peace dollars trade for less than Morgan silver dollars and 1921 Morgan silver dollars trade for less than 1904 & earlier silver dollars. This has to do in part with the number of coins produced and the demand for the coins.
While hundreds of millions of Morgan silver dollars were produced from 1878 – 1904, 270 million were melted down in response to the Pittman Act of 1918. The coins were melted down to help Great Britain avoid a banking collapse. This eliminated close to half the coins produced up until that time, which means that the number of coins remaining is much less than the original mintage of the coins.
The general lower mintage of these coins, along with the number of coins melted down, makes 1904 & earlier silver dollars (commonly referred to as pre-1921 silver dollars) rarer and more valuable. Even though a large number of 1921 Morgan silver dollars were produced between the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints, the Morgan silver dollar is an iconic coin and therefore tends to trade slightly above the price of Peace silver dollars.
Condition of the Silver Dollars
The last factor to take into consideration when buying silver dollars by the pound is the condition of the coins you’re purchasing. Most of the ads you find online and in print advertise coins in Very Good or VG condition. Surprisingly, there’s a significant difference in the condition of Very Good silver dollars. If you view this link from PCGS’ Photograde, you’ll see that a VG8 Morgan silver dollar has minimal hairlines, while a VG10 grade has more pronounced hairlines. A VG10 grade is considered a VG or better coin, as it’s close in condition to a Fine or F coin, while a VG8 is a lower grade VG coin and is closer in condition to a Good or G coin.
Ideally, when buying silver dollars by the pound, it’s preferable to purchase coins in Fine condition or better, but at the very least, you should expect to receive coins in VG or better condition. Of course, if you’re purchasing a lower grade lot at a discounted price, that’s fine, but if you’re paying full retail price, then you shouldn’t expect to receive subpar condition coins.
Be sure to read the fine details of the coin offering you’re considering from various coin dealers, as you want to make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. If one dealer is advertising VG coins while another is offering to sell VG or better condition coins at the same price, you’re better off going with the latter, as your resale potential will be greater with these coins.
Ultimately, if the condition of the coins is vague, the best option may be to pass on the opportunity unless the coin dealer has a generous return policy.
In conclusion, there’s more than meets the eye when you buy silver dollars by the pound. Any by the pound offering should consist of 17 coins. Considering that the coins weigh less than an ounce and are composed of 90% silver, the silver weight of the coins is slightly over three-quarters of an ounce.
It’s important to remember that Morgan and Peace silver dollars are numismatic or collectible coins, so they’ll sell at a premium above their underlying silver value. However, you should make sure that you’re not paying an excessive amount. Remember that Peace silver dollars sell for less than 1921 Morgan silver dollars and 1921 silver dollars trade for less than 1904 & earlier or pre-21 Morgan silver dollars. While not a hard and fast rule, if buying common date average condition coins, you shouldn’t pay much more than twice the silver value of the coins.
Lastly, we recommend that you verify the condition of the coins you’re purchasing before making a purchase. If you’re paying full retail-quality prices, you should insist on higher end condition VG coins or better. These are coins with decent details and are more marketable if and/or when the time comes to sell your coins in the future.
At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we not only offer silver dollars by the pound for less than the competition, but also offer these coins in VG condition or better. Investing at the right price will help to improve your chances of making a sound investment. Contact us today at 404-236-9744 to see why we’re the leading coin dealer in metro Atlanta and beyond