History Of Silver Coins

History Of Silver CoinsSilver coins have been minted since ancient times and are considered the oldest mass form of coinage. Silver mass coins can date back to the 1500’s but crude shapes were also used before this time. Silver coins are one of the most popular ways to circumvent against price increase and balance selection risk in these turbulent financial times we live in.

Ancient Greeks minted the famous Drachmas as a silver trade coin. Ancient Romans minted the silver Denarii coins in Rome but did not let their provinces mint silver coins as they considered silver a prestigious political coin. The Romans went to considerable effort to mine silver. They were experts at separating silver from lead. The Romans mined the ore deep underground and used huge 40 feet diameter water wheels to keep water out of their deep silver mines. Some of these three system wheels were only discovered in 2010 and still in good condition. The Roman Aquifer system was also very long and extensive. Romans also used similar methods to mine Gold in Spain in 25 AD.

The Ancient Spanish made the famous silver 8 Reale coin in its silver rich colonies of South America. Many countries produced silver coins known as crowns and the most standardized size was 38 mm.

History Of Silver Coins

From the US silver Trade Unit Dollars including strategic silver stockpiles to British, Chinese, Japanese, Austrian silver coins USA produced popular silver trade dollar coins. Congress approved the minting of silver trade coins in 1873 to trade with China. At this time the silver Mexican peso was the recognised trade unit so the US trade dollar does have similar reverse to the peso coin. 

The Chinese traders would stamp these coins with advertisement for their business. Japan minted trade dollars from 1875 to 1877 of 27.22 grams each of 900 silver. But because of their high bullion content they were with drawn from circulation.

In Mexico the peso was originally the name of the eight-real coins issued by Spain in Mexico. The first peso was minted in 1823 of .903 silver In 1920 Mexico changed silver content to 72%silver of .720 and kept this percentage for 25 years, in 1918 silver Mexican coin were 14.5 grams This silver peso coin was a powerful trade coin til in 1957 they were only only 10% silver or 16 gram coin with 1.6 grams silver. 

United States Love Silver Coins

For 173 years silver coinage was an everyday usage in the USA until 1964 when the US mint stopped minting silver coinage. In 1789 silver coinage was mandated as legal tender in the Constitution and the first mint in the US was established in 1792 in Philadelphia and to deface or make fake coins you would be sentenced to death! History Of Silver Coins

The US trade dollar surpassed this coin eventually as the worlds most trusted trade coin. Interesting how the silver ratio was calculated at one gold unit to fifteen silver units. The Coinage act of 1834 raised the silver to gold ratio from 15 : 1 to 16 : 1.

Some most famous silver coinage includes:

  • Seated liberty half dime 1837-1873: where 90% silver and 10 % copper and were popular till copper nickel coins took over in 1873 due to cost of silver.
  • Seated liberty Quarter 1838 to 1891: Were 90% silver and 10% copper and coin dealers enjoy this coinage due to the beautifulh design.
  • Seated liberty half dollar 1839-1891: Were 90% silver and 10% copper and coin dealers enjoy this coinage due to the beautiful design.

It is interesting to see the Mint making higher value silver coinage each year as Americans loved these silver coins. The Coinage Act of 1864 had words E Palabras Unum replaced with In God we trust on all silver coinage. Trade Dollar in 1873 to 1885 was in response to popularity of the Spanish Silver Dollar in International Trade.

MORGAN DOLLAR was the design that cemented Silver in America and was minted 1878 to 1904 and for one year after in 1921 when the Peace dollar took over.

USA Silver coins 

The Morgan dollar was named after its designer GT Morgan and was minted in 1878 to 1904 and then skipped years till 1921. The silver coin is .900 silver, 90% silver and 0.77344 troy ounces per coin. The famous Trade dollar was also produced at this time but that was intended for international trade and the Morgan dollar for home consumption. History Of Silver Coins

Coin dealers and coin collectors of the Morgan Dollars like mints where those coins found with deep mirror proof like (MPL or proof like PL surfaces.

This silver dollar was heavily melted down, so mintage dates are not an accurate indication of coins worth or coin value as obviously uncirculated coins are highly in demand. The key mintage date for Morgan silver dollars is 1893 which had mintage of only 100,000 silver dollars in the San Francisco Mint.

In 1904 there was an over abundance of silver coins and silver mining had slowed down so they ceased production till 1921 when 270 million silver coins were minted. 

Peace Dollar 

After 1921 the Peace dollar was minted on and off till 1935 and was the last silver coin minted for circulation in the United States. The 1923 the peace dollar had the highest mintage and is stamped TRVST instead of TRUST as the designers’ felt creative and used Latin spelling so TRVST stands for Trust. American Silver Eagle was first minted in 1986 with one troy ounce of 99.9% silver. Today this coin is one of the worlds most highly recognized silver coin as a hedge against inflation and current economic problems. Even in 2008 The mint suspended temporarily orders from its agents as silver coin orders were so high and production was months behind. Then again in 2009 the mint temporarily stopped excepting orders for its proof and uncirculated silver Eagles.

Next mintage date for coin value is 1889 -CC silver dollar with mintage at Carson City of only 350,000 trade silver dollars. 1921 was the highest mintage year with 86,730,000 silver  dollars minted in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints. A total of 305,437,547 Morgan dollars were minted in five US Mints.

In 1964 the United States treasury called halt to payouts for silver dollars in treasury vaults as they had over 100 million Morgan dollars in storage since 1920s.These coins were known as GSA Morgan dollars or Government Services Administration. 

The now famous Peace silver dollar was the last silver dollar minted and the design was to represent PEACE. The Peace dollar was minted from 1921 to 1928 and then again from 1934 to 1935 to symbolize the end World War 1 and is popular coin dealers worldwide. Most coins have a mint mark below the tail of the eagle.

The first Peace dollar design had a broken sword but was rejected a defeatist symbol before the design of eagle at rest on an olive tree branch was approved.

A coins worth and price is determined by its condition with uncirculated or certified in highest demand and many well worn have lower coin value, and if badly worn just over the spot price for silver.

A Total of 190,577,279 silver peace dollars were minted with 1922 the highest mintage year of 51,737,000 silver dollars and 1928 the lowest mintage year of only 360,649 silver coins.

Most years have no mint mark but others have mint mark D or S for San Francisco Mint and D for Denver Mint and others at Philadelphia Mint.

  • Low year coin mintages include 1925,1928,1934 all under one million and last years just over mintage million silver dollars include 1934,1935
  • Barber Half dollar was minted 1892 to 1915
  • Mercury dime was minted 1916 to 1945
  • Standing Liberty Quarter minted 1916 to 1930
  • Walking Liberty Half dollar minted 1916 to 1947

Coinage Act of 1965

People were hording silver coins due to the increase in silver value, so the act stopped silver content in dimes and quarters. Kennedy half dollars were reduced from 90% to only 40% silver content from 1965 to 1970 and in 1971 silver was ceased for coin circulation mintage in USA. In 1992 the Mint produced proof silver coin sets.  The war years always had an impact in USA as the Peace Dollar demonstrates. Australia and United Kingdom and Great Britain also changed silver content due to World War 2.  

British Silver Coins

British silver coins were first minted in 886 AD as silver pennies and in 1603 with many private mints and in 1630 Civil war mints made silver coinage.

The United Kingdom produced trade dollars when founding Singapore in 1819 and Hong Kong in 1842 to stop reliance on the many different currencies that were used in these country . The Opium Wars of 1839-1843,1856,1860 increased use of the British trade dollars silver coin. Austria 1780 Maria Theresa Trade coin of Austria was one of the most popular silver trade coins of Europe and over 800 million were minted and each minting had same date 1780 and has been described a s one of the worlds most beautiful silver coins! Arab countries would only trade with Europe for these recognized coins above any European coin.

Silver coinage included three pence, sixpence, shilling, crown and half crown.

Great Britain had a war debt of 21,000,000 billion Pounds. So, both countries changed silver content down from 92.5 % to 50% in 1946 to help pay off war debts. British coins after 1971 had no silver content. The British even made pennies up to 1997 till silver was worth more than the coinage value. Britannia minted silver bullion coins from 1997.

Australia Silver Coinage

The Australian Florin was a very popular silver coin, first minted in 1910 and same weigh 11.31 grams as English florin and minted to 1963. During war years 1942 to 1944 florins were minted in the San Francisco Mint in the United States. Mint marks are H : Birmingham ,M : Melbourne, S : San Francisco. History Of Silver Coins

The one shilling coin was also minted in 1910 till 1963 and had the same circumstances as the Florin silver coin. Crown silver coin was minted 1937 to 1938 and worth 5 shillings, it was originally popular till it fell out of pockets so in 1938 coins were not popular. Over million crowns were minted in 1938 but only 101,600 1938 crowns, so coin dealers value this coin higher value.

Australia’s last silver coin, the 50 cent, in 1966 had 80% silver content so was worth more than the face value of 0.50 cents so huge quantities were melted purely for silver or hoarded and this was the last silver coin minted in Australia. Now only the Peth Mint makes silver bullion coins for investors and collectors.

Perth Mint Of Australia 

The Perth Mint coins in Australia has a solid reputation of quality and well recognized silver coin equal to the USA and Canada. The Lunar silver coin series first released in 1999 are 99.9% pure silver and has been favourite amongst silver collectors due to series available each year with different reverse to follow the Chinese zodiac over 12 years. The most recognized silver coin is the famous Kookaburra and koala series. Both these coins have easily recognized Australian marsupial and are available in following sizes- one ounce, two ounce, 5 ounce,10 ounce  and one kilo.

Production at the mint has been modified a few times and in 2010 due to high demand for silver coins from European buyers in that some months they only produce one kilo silver coins so to catch up with European orders due to euro crisis.

Canadian Silver Coins

Most silver coins are 99.90% pure silver but the Canadian silver maple leaf coins is 99.99% pure so favoured as an investment against inflation.

The mint minted some 28 million silver eagles in 2009 smashing the 9 million mintage in 2008 Canadian Silver coins Canada minted its first silver coin in 1858 and has currency based same as its strong neighbour USA 100 cents to one dollar. In 1870 the 25 and 50 cent silver coins were more nationalist coins and the Royal Canadian mint gained world reputation as highly professional mint. The Canadian mint produced striking quality silver coins from 1935 to 1966 that are 80% pure silver and now the Voyagers design is recognized world wide.

  History Of Silver Coins

Today the Maple Leaf silver coin has one of the highest silver purity in the world of 99.99% silver so is considered a highly desirable silver coin. First minted in 1988 the one ounce silver coin has face value of $5.00 and 31.1 grams silver. Most mints produce silver coins at 99.90 % purity as it needs specialized heat exchange to obtain such high purity. The Maple leaf is in many investors collections for this purity reason and easily exchangeable for cash.

Other Countries

The Mexican silver liberated is also popular at 99.90% silver as well as the Chinese silver panda. 

Austria has always been a strong silver coinage producing country from the popular kreuzor and Mary Theresa silver coin to the 2008 Austrian Silver Vienna Philharmonic coins. Today the most popular silver coins are one ounce silver around 39-42 mm diameter.

Do not clean old silver coins as if they are valuable it will decrease their price. Silver coins can be cleaned in Baking Soda, Electrorolysys method, using ammonia or commercial cleaning jewelry products. 


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