If you have been around coins very long either at coin shows or in coin shops, you will have noticed that there is always a large quantity of silver dollars for sale and so many are in uncirculated condition. So how is it that so many of them were saved?
One of the main reasons is that from the beginning of our coinage, silver dollars have always had a great allure with the American public. One reason for their popularity is that they are a large coin. Another is that the dollar is the basis of our currency. Thus, from day one, many folks would keep some silver dollars instead of spending them. This being done by millions of Americans created a seemingly unending supply of them.
Another reason why there are so many silver dollars is that when they were minted the coins were put into cloth bags containing 1000 coins. The bags of silver dollars were then shipped to various Treasury vaults. More than 200 million silver dollars were eventually stored in these vaults.
The U.S. government was running low on its silver supply so under the Pittman Act of 1918 millions of silver dollars were ordered melted. It is not known just how many coins actually were melted, but the amount was significant and many were not melted.
In 1964 the government began to divest itself of a lot of the remaining bags of silver dollars. Individuals could purchase up to 50,000 silver dollars at a time for face value, thus putting vast quantities of uncirculated silver dollars onto the public market.
In general, silver dollars are very cheap right now. Thank goodness they are still one of the most collected coins in America or they would be even cheaper.
Stay tuned next month for more “Did You Know?” stories. Happy Holidays!