When you think of or hear the word 'dollar', many of us automatically think about a paper dollar bill. After all, the US dollar bill is what we use today for our money. However, the first US dollars that were used back in the 1700s were silver dollars. The American Silver Dollar is not only a unique collector's piece but is also a big part of our history.
History of the American Silver Dollar
The first issue of US dollars took place in 1794 in the form of the American Silver Dollar. Their style was based on the Spanish dollars that were then being used. Throughout the years, the design of the silver dollar has changed quite frequently, usually representing something symbolic to the country, whether it's Lady Liberty, our Presidents or something symbolizing our freedom and unity as a nation.
The first American Silver Dollar displayed the head of Lady Liberty facing right with her long flowing hair. LIBERTY is inscribed on the top edge in a circular style above her head. The date is on the bottom of the coin. Eight stars are one the left side of Lady with seven on the right. The reverse side of the coin features an eagle surrounded by a wreath with the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA all around the coin. The edge of the coin has the lettered denomination (ONE DOLLAR or HUNDRED CENTS, etc.) Robert Scot was the designer of this coin, which was made with a 90% Silver / 10% copper combination. All coins of this date were made at the Philadelphia Mint; therefore, there is no mint mark on them. This design continued to be used on the American Silver Dollar until 1798 when they changed the style to a heraldic eagle on the reverse. This famous dollar has seen many design changes through the years.
• 1794 – Liberty Head on Front / Eagle in Wreath on reverse
• 1798 – Liberty Head on Front / Heraldic Eagle on reverse
• 1836 – Liberty Seated on Front / Flying Eagle on reverse
• 1840 – Liberty Seated on Front / Flying Eagle on reverse
• 1873 – Trade Dollars
• 1878 – Liberty Head on Front / Eagle on reverse (Morgan Dollars)
• 1921 – Peace Dollars
1971 – Eisenhower Dollars
• 1979 – Susan B. Anthony Dolls
Mintmarks & Changes on the American Silver Dollar
The many changes in the silver dollar were welcome changes to the public because they represent something memorable in the country. An example of this was seen in the Peace Dollars, which were made to celebrate the end of World War I. The Eisenhower Dollars were designed as a way to pay tribute to the Presidents. Coins that were mined stuck in Philadelphia did not display a mintmark but the silver dollars that were snapped at New Orleans (O), Denver (D), Carson City (CC) or San Francisco (S) displayed the initials.
Although the American Silver Dollar has always played a vital part in the history of our country, the ones that have been the most popular and most sought after are the Peace Dollars and the Morgan Dollars.