Start with affordable entry points like Walking Liberty half-dollars for those beginning to collect silver coins.
Stay informed about rare variations and mintages, such as the 1928-S and 1923-S Peace dollars, which can significantly increase in value.
Research and identify coins that command higher prices due to rarity, such as the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar or rare Silver Eagles with lower mintages.
As of this writing, silver's worth sits at about $23 per ounce or $750 per kilogram. While this makes silver coins a great store of value, many collectors want more than the melt value of their coins. Collectible silver coins can support a broad investment portfolio.
Before you expand your silver coin collection, you'll want to know which coins draw a higher price than their metal alone. Some coins command a much higher value than an equal weight of silver bullion due to their rarity.
This article will look at silver coins at diverse price points and highlight why they command the price points they do. Keep reading to learn more about coins worth money.
Silver Coin Collection Rarities: 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
The 1794 silver dollar, sometimes called the "Flowing Hair" dollar, was the first dollar coin issued in America. It established the aesthetics of American coinage and holds a special place in American history. It comes in at just under 27 grams, with a width of 39 to 40 millimeters.
Even poor-quality Flowing Hair dollars sell for tens of thousands of dollars. One high-quality example sold for more than $10 million at auction in 2013.
While the Flowing Hair silver dollar will stand out of reach for most collectors, it can make for a good aspiration for a coin collector planning for the long term. Other early American coins bear the same face design but sell for a much lower price.
An Affordable Collectible: Walking Liberty Half-Dollars
The Walking Liberty half-dollar represents an affordable entry point for collectors interested in taking their first steps into buying silver coins. Walking Liberty half-dollars were produced for many years. Most specimens hover between $50 and $75 depending on the condition.
The design on the obverse, created by sculptor and engraver Adolph A. Weinman, served as one of many design replacements in the 1910s. Despite mints having difficulty reproducing the design at scale, some collectors and numismatists have called it one of America's most beautiful coins.
A Close Cousin: The American Silver Eagle
In 1986, America resurrected the Walking Liberty face design for the American Silver Eagle. Silver Eagles serve as the official bullion coin of the United States, with each coin guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver.
While it shares its obverse design with the Walking Liberty half-dollar, the eagle on the reverse design differs. The Silver Eagle's greater size and different obverse allow for a bolder look than its historical half-dollar counterpart.
Rare Silver Eagles
While most American Silver Eagles gain market value from their silver content, some have a higher value. Valuable Silver Eagles come from lower mintages.
In 2008, the Silver Eagle's reverse design changed. The U.S. Mint accidentally struck many coins using the previous reverse design, and these command market prices ranging from $500 to $2,000.
A Beginner's Collectible: 1972 Silver Dollars
The 1972 Eisenhower silver dollar used 40% silver, unlike pre-1965 coins containing 90% silver. It marked the first time the U.S. Mint issued American silver dollar proofs to the general public.
These types of silver coins go for $25 to $60 on the market. Even though they don't command exorbitant prices, they make a good starting point for coin collectors or those getting started investing in precious metals.
The Eisenhower silver dollar also works well as a gift for children interested in coin collection and investment. They highlight many elements of collectibility at once, including precious metal content, mintage, and historical value, and can serve as a lesson on why rare coins command such prices.
A Contrast: Junk Silver
While junk silver coins don't have a value that outstrips their silver content, they're still worth considerably more than their face value. Despite the name sounding pejorative, "junk silver" just refers to coins that have no special value to collectors. Most silver coin dealers will have coinage that falls under the junk silver umbrella in addition to their other offerings, making it easy to invest in silver.
Before 1965, American coins other than pennies and nickels almost always used 90% silver and 10% copper in their construction. Their face values matched up with their weights, so any bag of junk silver of a given weight will have the same amount of silver regardless of what coins it contains.
One large advantage of junk silver comes from divisibility. Individual coins contain as little as .0723 ounces of silver. This gives you a lot of fine control if you choose to change your portfolio.
A Change in American Pocket Change: The Morgan Dollar
The Morgan dollar, named for face designer George T. Morgan, derives its significance not only from its historical value but its relationship to coinage as a whole. Prior to its introduction, people could bring silver to a mint and request that the mint process it into silver dollars. This practice, known as "free silver," ended with the introduction of the Morgan dollar.
Morgan dollars vary in price depending on the year they were minted and their condition. A 1920 Morgan dollar in poor condition might sell for $10, while a Morgan dollar from the 1870s can command more than $100. Some rare examples can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars.
As Morgan dollars in good condition become scarce, you can expect their value to increase. A cheap, uncirculated Morgan dollar could later become a significant investment.
Another Piece of History: Draped Bust Coins
The Draped Bust obverse appeared on several coins during America's early years, including the quarter and the silver dollar. Silver coins served as a key engine for international commerce during the 1700s and 1800s, so examples of the Draped Bust coin show up all over the world.
Early Draped Bust Quarters
A 1796 Draped Bust quarter in circulated condition can sell for about $12,000, while an uncirculated specimen goes for around four times that price. These were some of the first coins minted by the American government and command a price that reflects that history.
Later Draped Bust Quarters
While still often commanding values in the thousands of dollars, Draped Bust quarters from 1805 or later don't climb as high as the original 1796 run. These range in value from $400 to $6,000 depending on their condition.
Draped Bust Silver Dollars
The Draped Bust silver dollar competed with many foreign coins for use in early America. A circulated Draped Bust dollar can go for as little as $2,000 or as much as $40,000 depending on its condition.
Uncirculated Draped Bust dollars, however, represent a preserved part of America's numismatic history. These can sell for close to $1 million, depending on the year. Despite this high figure, though, one Draped Bust coin commands an even higher price than the original Draped Bust silver dollar.
The 1804 dollar, despite its name and the date on its face, was first struck in the 1830s. They were first used as gifts for diplomatic partners. Later, more were minted to trade with coin collectors for other interesting coins to put in the U.S. Mint's coin cabinet.
Collectors have found less than 20 such coins. One 1804 dollar went for more than $4 million at auction.
A Once-Unpopular Coin: Silver Peace Dollars
Minted in the 1920s and 1930s and resurrected in the 2020s, the Peace dollar served to commemorate the end of World War I. Coin collectors wanted a coin that marked this momentous occasion, and a recent law required the U.S. Mint to begin producing silver dollars again.
The initial reverse design depicted an eagle perched atop a broken sword. When the design was announced, a heavy public backlash ensued, with claims that a broken sword implied a reduction in America's strength. The broken sword was soon scrubbed from the final design.
Peace dollars, like many coins produced for several years, can have different values. While some don't command much more than their silver value, rare mintages like the 1928-S and 1923-S have sold for thousands of dollars.
For collectors and investors who want their collection to focus on a single type of coin, the Peace dollar makes a great choice. One can find a lot of variations on the coin without breaking the bank. For those who want to scale up their investment, rare variations can scratch the itch.
A Wide World: International Silver Coins
Mints all around the world continue to produce silver coins for all kinds of occasions. Some serve as standard bullion coins, while others commemorate everything from Lunar New Year events to James Bond films.
The value of these coins depends a lot on their context. Some, like this shaped coin depicting Elsa from Disney's Frozen minted by the island country of Niue, derive their value more from their pop culture collectible status than numismatic or silver value. Others don't carry much more value than junk silver.
A World of Options
Starting a silver coin collection can serve as both a fun hobby and an investment in one's future. While not every coin commands values in the thousands of dollars, every silver coin represents a part of numismatic history and an investment.
If you want to get started with investing in silver, check out our offerings at United States Gold Bureau. We're a U.S. Mint-authorized provider of coins and advice. If you don't know where to begin, take a look at our free investor's guide.