What Silver Coins are Worth the Most?
As a silver coin collector myself, I’m often asked, “What silver coins are worth the most?” It’s a great question! While bullion silver coins carry intrinsic value, rare dates and historically significant pieces can be far more valuable to collectors.
In my experience, Morgan silver dollars, early American half dollars, and key date 20th century coins are among the most coveted.
Investors often buy silver coins expecting the silver price to rise in the future. The other reason that investors are often interested in buying the white metal is that it provides them with an easy route to enter the precious metals market.
This is because silver is a lot cheaper than purchasing gold, and large quantities of silver can be bought at the same price that one would pay when buying a small amount of gold. However, the silver market is not limited to only those coins whose value is decided by the spot price of silver.
There are plenty of rare and old silver coins that command large premiums based on their scarcity and history. Today, we will explore some of the best and rarest silver coins in the market.
Rare coins with history are always worth more than coins based on weight alone. Collectors are willing to pay huge premiums for scarcity.
Some Morgan Silver Dollar coins, worth 1$ Face value and £8 melt value, are actually worth over £300k due to their scarcity. Based on weight alone, the popular 1kilo coins, such as the Perth Mint Koalas and Kookaburra coins, are worth around £500 each.
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The coin was the first dollar coin to be minted by the US Mint. In the US, the coinage act of 1792, paved the way for the establishment of a new Mint. At the time, the Spanish silver dollars were already being used in the US.
The Flowing Hair Dollar contained 0.773 ounces of 90% silver. The coin is valuable due to its rarity, and one of these coins fetched $10 million at an auction in 2013.
Popularly known as the Draped Bust Half Dollar, the coin was minted by the US Mint as a replacement for the flowing hair dollar, due to its unpopularity. The Draped Bust Half Dollars were minted in 1796 and 1797. These coins featured a new design, called the ‘Small Eagle’.
Since the coins were minted in two subsequent years, most collectors prefer to complete their set by acquiring the half dollars, with the Small Eagle from both years. It must be noted that the scarcity of this coin is because very limited numbers were ever minted. 1796 witnessed only 934 of these coins being made, while a further 3,000 were minted in the next year. A 1797 Draped Bust Half Dollar fetched US$1,527,500 in an auction in 2015.
This historic coin became a part of US coinage for a little more than 30 years from 1840 to 1873. It is considered historic since it was the last silver dollar minted by the US Mint prior to the coinage act of 1873. The coinage act was an important milestone for the United States, as it would put the country on the gold standard. Well, by 1870, the production of these coins had been moved to other cities like San Francisco. These are very rare and an 1870 Seated Liberty Dollar produced in San Francisco was priced at US$1,092,500 in 2003.ust Half Dollar fetched US$1,527,500 in an auction in 2015.
Despite the nation being on a gold standard, a financial crisis prompted the US Mint to produce the Morgan silver dollars. These were minted from 1878 to 1904. It was named after the design of the coin, George T Morgan.
Due to the limited numbers of production, the coin is considered to be very rare and one of these was sold for $ 881,250 in 2013.
Minted from 1878-1904, the Morgan silver dollar is hugely popular with collectors. The 1884 issue has significant value for a few reasons:
The 1884 Philadelphia coin is the most common, but mint state examples or rare Carson City mint coins can be worth thousands to the right collector. Checking the mintmark is key – it’s found under the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse.
The Capped Bust half dollar was issued by the United States Mint from 1807 to 1839. In 1817, a design modification was made to the obverse of the coin, prompting a new subtype known as the Capped Bust II or Capped Bust 50C 1817-1836.
During the transition in 1817, an error occurred resulting in the so-called 1817/4 Overdate variety. This rare coin features an underlying “4” beneath the 7 in the date, indicating the dies were modified from the previous 1814 dates but still show traces of the prior year.
Only a few thousand 1817/4 half dollars were produced before the error was corrected. As a one-year type coin with a visible minting error, demand from collectors is high. An XF-40 specimen sold for over $17,000 in 2021, while more pristine AU examples have traded for $50,000 or more at auction.
Any collector specializing in early American half dollars would prize an 1817/4 for its rarity and intriguing history. The coin provides a fascinating snapshot into the early days of the U.S. Mint and the technical difficulties in modifying coin designs by hand.
Morgan silver dollars bearing the “P” mintmark for the Philadelphia Mint are generally common for most dates. However, the 1901 P has some unique attributes that make it more valuable to collectors:
While available for just a small premium over common Morgan dates in circulated grades, uncirculated 1901 P dollars are worth substantially more. Mint state examples with the notable die crack can sell for over $4,000 at auction when graded MS65 or better. This makes the 1901 P a more valuable find in mint state or higher uncirculated grades.
The 1893 S Morgan dollar is one of the key date rarities in the Morgan series. Minted at the San Francisco Mint, it has an extremely low mintage of only 100,000 coins. For comparison, most Morgan dollar dates number in the millions or tens of millions produced. This tiny output makes the 1893 S highly sought after.
Some key factors giving the 1893 S Morgan such great value include:
Because so few exist today, an 1893 S Morgan can easily fetch 5 figures in lower uncirculated grades. In MS65 condition, it is valued at $100,000+ and is considered a highlight of any advanced Morgan dollar set. The 1893 S will always be in high demand due to its legendary rarity.
The Capped Bust half dollar series was minted from 1807 to 1839. In 1838, half dollars bearing the “O” mint mark of the New Orleans Mint were struck for the first and only time until 1892. This one-year type makes the 1838 O a prized rarity.
Some key highlights giving the 1838 O half dollar value include:
With so few in collectors hands today, an 1838 O half in VF condition can sell for over $1,000. In higher AU grades, it can easily fetch $10,000+. Any collector specializing in early half dollars will need an example of this rare one-year New Orleans issue.
As the very first half dollar struck by the United States Mint, the 1796 Draped Bust half dollar occupies an important place in American numismatic history. It was minted for just two years alongside the Flowing Hair half dollar before being replaced by the Capped Bust design.
Key factors giving the 1796 Draped Bust half dollar value include:
With so few in collectors hands today, even an AG-3 example can sell for over $10,000. For AU or Mint State coins, the value easily reaches six figures at auction. The 1796 half is a trophy coin for advanced early half dollar collectors.
While most coins in circulation today have little to no silver content, there are still opportunities for eagle-eyed collectors to find valuable coins by coin roll hunting and searching pocket change:
With sharp eyes and a little luck, an ordinary pocket change search can reveal valuable vintage silver coins still floating around.
Physical Gold is a highly reputed precious metals dealer in the country. Our advisors are best placed to discuss your silver investments and identify the best silver coins for you to buy. Please call us today on (020) 7060 9992 or get in touch with us online, via our website.
Silver coins generate a lot of common questions among new and experienced collectors alike. Below we answer some of the key questions around buying and selling silver coins.
Some of the most valuable silver coins based on year include Morgan silver dollars minted from 1878-1904, Mercury dimes from 1916-1945, and Walking Liberty half dollars minted from 1916-1947. Key dates from those series in pristine condition can be worth thousands.
American Silver Eagles and Canadian Maple Leafs are popular one ounce bullion coins that are very easy to sell and carry small bid/ask spreads. Common date U.S. 90% silver coinage is also simple to sell in bulk to dealers.
While less rare than gold Krugerrands, the limited mintage silver Krugerrand can appreciate moderately above the value of its silver content, especially in proof versions. However, they don’t tend to increase as dramatically in value as truly rare coins.
Britannia silver coins issued since 1997 are highly popular for UK investors. The beautiful designs depict Britain’s heritage, contain one troy ounce of .999 fine silver, and are capital gains tax exempt, making them a top choice for British stackers.