Most Expensive Coins

Top 10 Most Valuable Silver Dollars

Top 10 Most Valuable Silver Dollars

When it comes to U.S. silver coins, the silver dollar collections are revered as some of the most sought-after coin designs globally. These exquisite specimens of coins prepared from 1794 to 1935, boast a composition of 90% silver and 10% copper. However, the 40% Silver Eisenhower Dollars circulated from 1971 to 1978 lack the same collectible allure.

The History of Silver Dollars in the United States

The initial collection of 1,758 silver dollars was minted on October 15, 1794, and promptly given to Mint Director David Rittenhouse as gifts for celebrities. Minting continued until 1804 in varying quantities.

What Are Silver Dollars and When Were They Minted?

When the United States was formed after the thirteen colonies gained independence from Britain, establishing a currency system became a priority. Although Spanish coins were widely used initially, the U.S. Mint was established to mint coins made of precious metals. 

The first U.S. silver dollars, known as the “Flowing Hair” variety, were minted in 1794, followed by the Draped Bust and Seated Liberty dollars. In 1873, the Fourth Coinage Act shifted American coins to the gold standard for five years. 

The Bland-Allison Act later allowed the creation of the Morgan Dollar and its successor, the Peace Dollar. The U.S. Mint’s early efforts were modeled on Spanish currency standards, with later coins like the Morgan and Peace Dollars being of higher quality, consisting of 90% silver and 10% copper. 

The first U.S. Mint facility was built in Philadelphia, with branches opening in other cities throughout the 19th century, all involved in manufacturing silver dollars.

Popular Types Of Silver Dollars

Major U.S. silver dollar varieties have Flowing Hair, Draped Bust, Seated Liberty, Morgan, and Peace designs. Among collectors, the Morgan dollar and Peace dollar are particularly popular.

Morgan Dollar:

  • Introduced after the Bland-Allison Act of 1878.
  • Designed by George Morgan, an Englishman hired by the U.S. Mint in 1876.
  • Features Lady Liberty’s profile on the obverse.
  • The Reverse shows an eagle in flight with an olive branch and arrows.
  • Mint marks indicate origin: no letters for Philadelphia, CC for Carson City, etc.

Peace Dollar:

  • Created post-World War I under the Pittman Act of 1918.
  • Designed by Anthony De Francisci, an Italian immigrant.
  • Obverse features Liberty’s profile, based on De Francisci’s wife Teresa.
  • The reverse originally depicted an eagle breaking a sword, later revised.
  • Contains the nation’s name, motto, value, and mint mark.

Key Points:

  • Morgan dollar connects with late 19th-century American history.
  • The peace dollar symbolizes the end of World War I.
  • Both coins hold significance in American coinage.
  • Peace dollars, though not rare, mark a unique era in American history.

Factors Affecting the Value of Silver Dollars

  1. Exchange Rate of the U.S. Dollar: Fluctuations in the U.S. dollar’s exchange rate influence silver prices.
  2. Supply and Demand Relationship: Silver prices are closely tied to supply and demand dynamics. Changes in demand for silver affect its price.
  3. Impact of U.S. Non-Farm Employment Data: The number of non-farm jobs affects silver prices; rising employment can lower silver prices, while declining employment may raise them.
  4. Monetary Policy of Countries: Countries’ monetary policies, especially regarding interest rates, affect silver prices. Loose monetary policies tend to increase the money supply and thus silver prices.
  5. International Political Turmoil and Wars: Political instability and wars influence silver prices. During such events, investors often turn to silver for asset preservation, increasing demand and prices.
  6. Supply of Silver: Changes in silver production impact prices. Increased production can lower prices, while decreased production can lead to price increases due to supply-demand imbalances.

What Silver Coins Are Worth the Most?

  1. Morgan Silver Dollars: Highly sought after by collectors, some rare Morgan Silver Dollars can bring over £300k due to their scarcity.
  2. Early American Half Dollars: Early half-dollar coins from American history are also highly coveted by collectors.
  3. Key Date 20th-Century Coins: Certain key-date coins from the 20th century are considered valuable due to their rarity and historical significance.

Investors usually purchase silver coins with expectations of future price increases. Silver offers an affordable access point into the precious metals market due to its lower cost compared to gold.

While bullion silver coins have inherent value based on their silver content, rare and historic coins command considerable premiums based on scarcity and historical importance.

For example, while some 1-kilo silver coins like the Perth Mint Koalas and Kookaburras are valued at around £500 each based on weight alone, rare Morgan Silver Dollars can fetch much higher prices due to their scarcity and collector demand.

List Of Top 10 Most Valuable Silver Dollars

  • The American Flowing Hair Dollar 1794
  • 1796 Draped Bust Half-Dollar
  • The American Half Dollar (1797)
  • 1817/4 Capped Bust Half-Dollar
  • 1838 O Capped Bust Half-Dollar
  • The 1870 Seated Liberty Dollar
  • 1884 Morgan Silver Dollar
  • 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar
  • 1893 S Morgan Silver Dollar
  • 1901 P Morgan Silver Dollar

1. The American Flowing Hair Dollar 1794

The Flowing Hair Dollar was the first dollar coin minted by the US Mint. Established under the Coinage Act of 1792, it replaced Spanish silver dollars already in use. 

This coin, containing 0.773 ounces of 90% silver, is highly valued for its rarity. In 2013, one of these coins sold for $10 million at auction.

2.1796 Draped Bust Half-Dollar

The 1796 Draped Bust half-dollar, the first of its kind minted by the US Mint, holds significant historical importance. Here are key reasons for its value:

  1. Historic First Year Issue: Being the inaugural half dollar, the 1796 coin carries extra collector appeal.
  2. Low Original Mintages: Only about 3,000 were struck in 1796, followed by 7,776 in 1797.
  3. Major Rarity: It’s estimated that only around 150 examples of this coin still exist.
  4. Condition Rarity: Most are in VG to Fine condition, with higher grades being extremely valuable.
  5. One-Year Design Type: The design was only used in 1796, increasing its desirability among collectors.
  6. With its scarcity, even a coin in AG-3 condition can fetch over $10,000, while higher-grade examples can reach six figures at auction. The 1796 half-dollar is a prized possession for advanced collectors of early half-dollars.

3.The American Half Dollar (1797)

The American Half Dollar, also known as the Draped Bust Half Dollar, was minted by the US Mint to replace the unpopular Flowing Hair Dollar. Minted in 1796 and 1797, these coins featured the ‘Small Eagle’ design. 

Collectors often seek both years’ versions to complete their set due to their limited minting. Only 934 coins were minted in 1796, and 3,000 in 1797. In 2015, a 1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar fetched US$1,527,500 at auction.

4.1817/4 Capped Bust Half-Dollar

The Capped Bust half dollar was issued by the United States Mint from 1807 to 1839. In 1817, a design change led to the creation of the Capped Bust II subtype. An error in 1817 resulted in the rare 1817/4 Overdate variety, featuring a faint “4” beneath the “7” in the date. 

Only a few thousand were made before the error was fixed. These coins are highly sought after by collectors due to their rarity and historical significance. An XF-40 specimen sold for over $17,000 in 2021, while more pristine examples have fetched $50,000 or more at auction.

Collectors interested in early American half dollars prize the 1817/4 for its intriguing history and rarity, offering insight into the early days of the U.S. Mint and the challenges of modifying coin designs.

5.1838 O Capped Bust Half-Dollar

The 1838 O Capped Bust half-dollar is a rare find in the series, minted only in New Orleans for one year. Here are some key reasons for its value:

  1. Low Mintage: Only 330,000 coins were struck at the New Orleans Mint in 1838.
  2. One-Year Type: It was the only New Orleans issue of this design type, making it highly sought after by collectors.
  3. Heavy Melting: Many coins were likely melted for their silver content over time, further reducing the available supply.
  4. Tough Availability: Only a small percentage of the original mintage survives today, making it challenging to find.
  5. Southern Heritage: Its status as the only New Orleans Capped Bust Half adds regional appeal to collectors.
  6. With its scarcity, an 1838 O half-dollar in VF condition can sell for over $1,000, while higher AU grades can command prices exceeding $10,000. Collectors specializing in early half dollars will prize this rare New Orleans issue as a valuable addition to their collection.

6.The 1870 Seated Liberty Dollar

The 1870 Seated Liberty Dollar was minted from 1840 to 1873, making it historic as the last silver dollar before the Coinage Act of 1873. This act shifted the US to the gold standard. Production of these coins moved to cities like San Francisco by 1870. They are rare, with a San Francisco-minted 1870 Seated Liberty Dollar selling for US$1,092,500 in 2003.

7.1884 Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1884 Morgan Silver Dollar, minted from 1878-1904, is highly sought after by collectors. With a low mintage of just 14 million coins, it holds significant value, especially in uncirculated condition or if struck at the Carson City Mint. These coins hold historical significance after the California Gold Rush. Mint state examples or rare Carson City mint coins can fetch thousands. Check the mintmark under the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse.

8.The 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar was minted during a financial crisis despite the nation being on a gold standard. Designed by George T. Morgan, these coins were minted from 1878 to 1904. They are considered very rare due to limited production. In 2013, one sold for $881,250.

9.1893 S Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1893 S Morgan silver dollar, minted at the San Francisco Mint, is a rare find in the Morgan series. Here are some key reasons for its great value:

  1. Tiny Original Mintage: Only 100,000 coins were minted, making it exceptionally rare, even for its time.
  2. Melted and Lost: Many coins were melted or spent, leaving only a small percentage of the original mintage surviving today.
  3. Condition Rarity: Most coins are in Good to Very Good condition, with mint state examples being extremely rare.
  4. Historic Low Mint Output: It has the lowest mintage of any Morgan dollar, adding to its prestige and rarity.
  5. Due to its scarcity, an 1893 S Morgan can fetch five figures even in lower uncirculated grades. In MS65 condition, its value exceeds $100,000, making it a prized addition to any advanced Morgan dollar collection.

10. 1901 P Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1901 P Morgan silver dollar, minted at the Philadelphia Mint, holds unique value for collectors due to several factors:

  1. Low Mintage: With just over 6.9 million coins produced, it has one of the lowest mintages in the series, increasing collector demand.
  2. Condition Rarity: Most coins are found in circulated grades, making uncirculated examples (MS63 or higher) scarce and commanding strong premiums.
  3. Die Crack: Many coins display a distinctive die crack running from above the eagle’s head to the rim on the reverse, appealing to collectors.
  4. Turn of the Century Date: The 1901 date symbolizes the turn of the 20th century, adding to its collector interest.
  5. While circulated grades sell for a small premium, uncirculated examples, especially those with the die crack, can fetch over $4,000 at auction in MS65 or better condition. This makes the 1901 P Morgan dollar more valuable in mint state or higher uncirculated grades.

Where to Find Valuable Silver Dollars

You can find valuable silver dollars online and offline. Here are some common options:

  1. Online Auction Websites: Websites like eBay, Heritage Auctions, and Catawiki allow people to list and find coins to a global audience. You can select your costs and auction format.
  2. Numismatic Forums and Communities: There are online forums and communities where you can engage with collectors to find coins.
  3. Coin Dealers: You can find valuable coins at local coin shops or dealers. They usually estimate the value of the coins and offer you a price based on their market demand.
  4. Coin Shows: Coin shows also help you find the coin because where collectors and dealers gather to buy, sell, and trade coins. 
  5. Online Classifieds: Websites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and specialized numismatic classified websites also allow you to find valuable silver coins.
  6. Auction Houses: Larger auction houses usually have specialized coin auctions. You can valuable silver coins in these auctions, and they will handle the marketing and deal process for you.

Also Read – 11 Rare Pennies Of The Twentieth Century


Investing in silver dollars is popular because of their numismatic value, which reflects their historical significance and collectability. Since silver dollars have actual silver and represent a crucial period in U.S. coinage history, they are rare and usually worth more than their silver content alone. This results in high premiums associated with investing in silver dollars, making them valuable additions to any silver portfolio.

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