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Pre-1965 US Silver Coins | U.S. Gold Bureau

A Deep Dive Into Pre-1965 US Silver Coins

June 15, 20223378 view(s)

Although silver’s reputation is less glamorous than its precious metal counterpart gold, it’s valued as the most versatile of all metals. Leading up to 1965, an increase in demand for silver coin circulation in the economy and for industrial purposes led to a silver shortage. As a result, the Coinage Act of 1965 was passed, fundamentally changing the composition of coins that had been made from silver up until this point.

Nowadays, most “silver” coins are actually made up of copper and metal alloys, containing little to no actual silver. However, prior to 1965, most coins minted in the United States were 90% silver and 10% copper. Even other U.S. denominations other than pennies and nickels at one time were struck using 90% silver.

Then, by 1970, silver was eliminated from all coin circulation in the United States. That’s why pre-1965 US silver coins containing 90% are valuable based on their silver content and are extremely desirable to collectors and investors. Let’s take a look at some of the most valuable pre-1965 US silver coins that are out there and how much they could be worth.


What is Melt Value and Why Does it Matter?


The melt value (MV) of a coin shows you what the metal of the coin is worth if you were to melt the coins down. Because precious metals remain unaffected by corrosion, even if you have a totally ruined coin, its metal content still carries value. MV is calculated using the following formula:

MV = Current Spot Price x Troy ounces per $1 face value x face value

For example, as of June 2022, the melt value of a single Morgan Silver Dollar assuming a current spot price of $17.02 is: $17.02 x .7734 x $1 = $13.16


Which Pre-1965 U.S. Silver Coins Carry the Most Value?


Some of the silver coins that were used prior to 1965 are not even used today in a reconstructed form, like the half dollar. Some are even used sparingly if at all, like the silver dollar. Take a look at this list of pre-1965 US silver coins that carry the most value today.

Morgan Silver Dollars: Morgan Silver Dollars from 1878 to 1904 and 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars. The Morgan Silver Dollar, named after its designer George T. Morgan was the first silver dollar minted after the demonetization of silver set by Congress in the Coinage Act of 1873. Because of its size and silver content, the Morgan Silver Dollar is the most valuable silver coin minted in the United States in the late nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century.

The obverse features a left-facing Lady Liberty while the reverse depicts a majestic eagle holding arrows and an olive branch. Each Morgan Dollar contains .7734 Troy ounces of silver with a diameter of an inch and a half.


Morgan Silver Dollar FAQ:


How much is a Morgan Silver Dollar worth?


The value of a Morgan Silver Dollar will depend on its numismatic qualities. The 1895 Morgan silver dollar, for instance, is known as the "King of the Morgan Dollars". This is because it is the rarest and one of the most valuable coins in the entire Morgan Dollar series. A whopping $269,500 was used to purchase one in June 2020 at David Lawrence RC Internet Auction #1123 for a coin that is graded PCGS Proof 67+ DCAM.

A non-rare Morgan Dollar, or one in poor condition, would simply be worth the “melt value” (see definition above).


Where is the mint mark on a Morgan Silver Dollar?


The mint mark of a Morgan Silver Dollar should be located on the reverse above between D and O in "Dollar."


How much silver is in a Morgan Silver Dollar?


412.5 grains of 90% pure silver make up the composition of a Morgan Silver Dollar.


How much does a Morgan Silver Dollar weigh?


The Morgan Silver Dollar weighs 26.73 g. It has a diameter of 38.1 mm (1.5 in) and a thickness of 2.4 mm (0.09 in).

Browse Morgan Dollar Coins »


What are Peace Silver Dollars Worth?


The Peace Dollar was only minted for a total of ten years between 1921 to 1928 and  1934 to 1935. The Pittman Act in 1918 required the U.S. Mint to strike millions of silver dollars beginning in 1921. The Peace Silver Dollar design was the result of government officials advocating for a design that was more reflective of the peace that followed World War I. The coin was first struck on December 28, 1921, thus only about a million were coined with the 1921 date.

Designed by Anthony de Francisci, the obverse features the facial profile of the Goddess of Liberty while the reverse depicts a bald eagle grasping an olive branch above "PEACE." The obverse of all coins features "IN GOD WE TRVST," the Latin spelling of "IN GOD WE TRUST."

Each Peace dollar contains .7734 Troy ounces of silver.


Peace Silver Dollar FAQ:


How much silver is in a Peace Dollar?


Like other US silver coins minted before 1965, peace silver dollars also contain a 90% silver metal composition.


How much is a 1922 Peace Silver Dollar worth?


51,737,000 silver dollar pieces were minted in 1922. Coins in decent condition are valued at approximately $20 to $30. However, some of these more numismatic coins that are uncirculated, rarer, or in mint condition are valued above the silver melt price. Uncirculated (MS+) mint condition coins are more expensive and can range in value between $52 to $174. Rare-proof coins can be worth more than $82,000. 1922 high relief Peace Silver Dollars were minted in Philadelphia and lack a mintmark. It is believed there are only 11 of these coins left, amounting to $137,776 each.


How much is a 1928 Peace Silver Dollar worth?


Unriculated, extra-fine 1928 Peace Silver Dollars range between $375 and $400. 1928 Peace Dollars in good condition can fetch approximately $48 to $65.

Browse Peace Dollar Coins »


What are Pre-1965 90% Silver Coin Bags Worth?


The term “junk silver” refers to silver coins which have no numismatic or collectible value above the silver bullion value of the coin. Junk Silver is any combination of 90% silver U.S. coins containing .715 Troy ounces of 99.9 percent silver for every $1 face value. The Morgan Silver Dollar and Peace Silver Dollar are excluded from Junk Silver because they contain .7734 Troy ounces of silver per $1 face value.

Browse Silver Coins »


Why Invest in Silver Coins?


Silver is the most versatile of metals, treasured for its durability, multi-functional and multi-purpose usage in jewelry and industrial equipment or infrastructure. Silver scarcity allows for it to maintain its store of value and act as a hedge against inflation, strengthening the diversity of your portfolio. Silver coins can be purchased in bullion form and numismatic form. The unique characteristics of each of these coin types will affect their overall value. Numismatic coins tend to be more rare, which means the price of the coins isn’t as dependent on market trends. Bullion coins on the other hand are more easily accessible and can still offer a significant return on investment.


Where to Store Silver Coins?


Silver coins are small enough to store in an at-home safe. However, their value is sometimes greater than the risk of theft or indefinitely misplaced coins. Safe deposit boxes are available, but are being phased out and may present inconveniences if you’re trying to gain fast access to your asset. You may want to consider storing your silver coin in a high-security vault.


Where Can You Buy Verified Pre-1965 US Silver Coins?


The United States Gold Bureau is a private dealer and distributor of high-quality, mint-produced silver bullion and rare coins. Our collectible coin authentication process includes grading and certification, alleviating you from the stress of guaranteeing your coin’s purity, make, and condition. Former U.S. Mint Director, Ed Moy, has also partnered with us, offering exclusive, hand-signed certification labels for its Investment Grade Coins.

Schedule a consultation today with one of our precious metal experts to learn more about how collectible pre-1965 US Silver Coins can be used to diversify your investment portfolio.

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