Thursday, April 30, 2009

US Silver Dollar Eagles

History of the Silver Dollar
The US Silver Dollar Eagle is perhaps one of the most well known silver coins in the world and certainly one of the most collected.

A pocket history of silver coinage demonstrates that silver has been used for currency for hundreds of years with the first currency of the modern Greek state called the Phoenix. This was issued in 1828 as a silver coin equal to the then French franc. In Germany silver coins were called "Talers". This word was translated into many languages including the English as daler, daaler and eventually dollar, A word we now know so well.

In Scotland a thirty shilling silver coin was struck between 1567 and 1571 and used by James VI of Scotland and this was called the Sword Dollar. Another potential source of the silver dollar. This was followed by Charles the II who struck the Double Merk of 1578. This was called the Thistle Dollar and Spain, as we know, issued crown sized silver coins as 8 reales.

It is still possible to find many examples of these silver coins throughout the ages in museums and in private collections. Indeed, the history of silver coinage that brings us to the US Silver Dollar Eagle is a fascinating.

US Silver Dollar Eagle
US silver dollar coins were minted between 1792 and 1964, and ranged in size from the small three cent silver or half dimes to the Trade and Morgan Silver dollars.

In 1916 the Liberty Walking silver half dollar was introduce. This was minted in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The Liberty Walking half-dollars, however, are not full silver coins but composed of only 90% silver and the balance in copper with each coin containing only 0.36169 ounces of pure silver. Nevertheless these coins are very popular as they are somewhat less expensive and easier to collect and accumulate over time.

On the 24th of November, 1986 the very first US silver dollar eagle was struck. The face value was one dollar and it was guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of fine silver .999. The silver dollar eagle is still the official silver bullion coin of the United States and is the only silver coin backed by the US Congress and its weight and content certified by the United States Government.

There are several mints at which the silver dollar eagle is struck. Each has their own mint mark and the mint at which a particular coin is struck can be identified by that mark. For example all silver eagles struck at the Philadelphia mint have a "P" mintmark. Those from the San Francisco mint bear an "S" mintmark and those from the West Point carry a "W".

The "Walking Liberty" design, first introduced by Adolph A. Weinman on the half dollar design around 1916 to 1947, was taken and used on the obverse of the coin. This was a very popular design and was likely used with this in mind. The reverse contains a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti.

The complete list of silver coins, their types and denominations are as follows:
Silver Dollars
Flowing Hair Silver Dollars (1794-1795)
Draped Bust Silver Dollar (1795-1804)
Seated Liberty Silver Dollars (1840-1873)
Trade Silver Dollars (1873-1885)
Morgan Silver Dollars (1878-1904 & 1921)
Peace Silver Dollars (1921-1935)

Silver Half Dollars
Flowing Hair Silver Half Dollars (1794-1795)
Draped Bust Silver Half Dollars (1796-1797, 1801-1807)
Capped Bust Silver Half Dollars (1807-1836)
Seated Liberty Silver Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Barber Silver Half Dollars (1892-1915)
Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars (1916-1947)
Franklin Silver Half Dollars (1948-1963)
The US silver dollar eagle may be used to fund an IRA Individual Retirement Account) investment program.

Where to find US Silver Dollar Eagles

Although there is currently no new US silver dollar eagles being struck by the US mint, US silver dollar eagles can still be found in auctions, at dealers and with coin collectors in private collections.

Before buying any US silver dollar eagles it is a good idea to know as much about them as possible. Their history, the various types and strikes by the different mints, the values and what one can expect to buy them for.

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when buying US silver dollar eagles.

When buying from a dealer ensure that the dealer has a fixed address and contactable phone number. Most of the established dealers have good service and are eager to please. Check they have a returns policy anyway as the coin you receive may not be exactly as you though from the picture. Many dealers use stock photos on their websites.

Most bona fide dealers will go to great pains to assure you of their long term commitment to the business and to their customers and it is a good idea to build up a relationship with a particular dealer so you can buy silver coins with them with confidence.

Auctions are different. You do not know with whom you are dealing mostly. Many auctions use the feedback system as a way of being able to determine the credibility of the dealer or seller. While it is not 100 percent guaranteed it is a useful indicator. You will find many dealers also sell on such sites as eBay also.

It is always a good idea to read the terms and conditions of a seller, as boring as it might sound. You would be surprised at what you can find hidden in those tiny words.

Do not hesitate to contact, by email or phone, the seller or dealer and see how long it takes to get a response and what the quality of the response is. A simple question about delivery is always a good way of doing this.

Checking out the various forums on silver coins is a good idea. Find out what other people say.

There are also coin clubs one can belong to and get advice and talk to others who have similar interests. It is amazing what you can find out about the US Silver Dollar Eagle!

With a bit of common sense and some patient research, understanding the silver market can be very satisfying and rewarding when it comes to buying and owning US Silver Dollar Eagles.

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