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100 Years of Change Silver Dollars 1889 thru 1989

A lot of things can change beyond the scope of imagination in the span of 100 years. Using an 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar and a 1989 American Silver Eagle we can see that while a lot has changed with United States silver dollars over this period of time, there are still some interesting similarities. So what happened over a 100 year period?

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar

The Morgan silver dollars (1889 pictured) were still quite new, having been only introduced the year before in 1878. These would ultimately wind up being produced for the next four decades until 1921.

The 1895 is one example of the Morgan that would come to be exceptionally rare having been minted only as a proof in Philadelphia that particular year. The various other Morgan dollars remain highly sought after by all levels of coin collectors though. Throughout its history there have been much higher mintage within other years. This has resulted in the relative affordability of many of these coins to this day.

Over the course of this 100 year time range, there were changes like the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890. This ill fated maneuver mandated that purchase of silver by the Treasury be increased from previous numbers. Due to the economic climate of those days, this was an attempt to control the actual value of the dollar by means of inflation.

1989 and 1889 Silver Dollars

As a result, in the early 1890s there began to be a high level of silver dollar surplus. There had been so many produced that the US Mint ultimately lowered the production numbers considerably, resulting the desirable key date being the 1895 P mentioned earlier. Ultimately this may not have been such a good idea in retrospect, and the act was repealed in 1893.

There was another quite significant occurrence which affected the US silver dollars in the early part of the twentieth century. This occurred during the time of the First World War when it was ordered that a significant amount of the available silver dollars be melted down. While this in itself can affect the value of the coins, there is still a significant amount of them in existence today. Those which are uncirculated will have a greater value to them, just like any other collectible coins, while the circulated coins are typically worth only a fraction of those depending on their dates and mintage.

1989 American Silver Eagle

Aside from the historical events which have occurred over this time period, the composition of the coins has changed as well. In the first photo you can see the 1898 silver dollar which has a composition of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. And also shown here (100 years later) is a fairly early 1989 American Silver Eagle which is composed of 99.9 percent pure silver.

These coins are actually guaranteed to contain there high silver content. They were first introduced in 1986 and are, to a great extent, aimed at collectors since it is actually unusual for people to pay for goods and services with actual silver dollar coins these days. The US Mint has produced bullion versions, proof versions and uncirculated versions of these. Many of these are still in their protective cases, as the one shown here, and will most likely remain in coin collections or held for their silver content value.

Peace Dollar and Eisenhower Silver Dollar

During the 20s and 30s the Peace silver dollars were produced, from 1921 thru 1928 and again from 1934 thru 1935. The silver content of these coins is, as were the Morgan Dollars, 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

There was a short lived series of Eisenhower silver dollars too. Not all of these contain silver though. The ones to look for which do were the ones produced from 1971 thru 1976 and these contain only 40 percent silver. These are not nearly as highly regarded as even some of the lower grade Peace Dollars, for one reason being the lowered silver content.

The design changes may not be as impressive as other inventions and advancements by humankind over the course of this particular 100 year period, and they may not really be all that significant either (other than design and content). Many of the coin production technologies have simply been refined evolution as opposed to being revolutionary. Also, with the exception of coins like the American Silver Eagle, the decline in silver content is really quite logical from a production cost standpoint. However from the observations of a collector, there are things which are appealing from the earliest to the latest examples here. After all, variety is what a really makes a great collection.