Hard to believe that there was a period that the circulating coins we used had silver and gold content. There was even a time when silver was included in various coins from the Three Cent Pieces to the Dollar. Today, we only find silver in special collector coins and Commemoratives. Let’s go through the history of Silver Coins in the United States.
Early Silver Coins
Back in Colonial Times, people used silver and gold coins from European nations. One of the most common coins used was the silver Spanish Dollar, also known as a Real or a piece of eight.
After the United States became it owns nation, one of the things that needed to be done was to produce its own coinage. The Coinage Act of 1792 would introduce a US Mint to be built in Philadelphia and a new US coinage system. The Half Dime (5 cent piece), Dime, Quarter, Half Dollar and Dollar coins would all include silver. With the Spanish Dollar being popular, the US would make their dollar similar in weight and would become the monetary standard. Back then, silver coins contained 89.24% silver. By 1837, the content of silver for all silver coins would be increased to 90% which they would remain until 1964.
End Of Silver In US Coins
When the US endured depressions including 1873 and 1929, silver and gold were threatened to be removed from US coins, but silver coins wouldn’t go away, at least until the 1960s. The price of silver was on the increase and people were starting to hoard their silver coins instead of spending them. The US Government was even considering bringing back the Morgan Dollar or Peace Dollar in 1964, but neither would make it. As a result, the Coinage Act of 1965 would finally remove silver from US coins. The exception being the Kennedy Half Dollar which would contain 40% silver from 1965 to 1970. With silver 1970-D Kennedy Half Dollars only available in Mint Sets, the 1969-D Half Dollar would be the last circulating coin to contain any silver.
With the 1970s came a new dollar for the first time in 36 years, the Eisenhower Dollar, which would be the first US dollar without silver, at least for the public. The Mint would release 40% silver Eisenhower Dollars for collectors between 1971 – 1976.
There would be special coinage and commemoratives that would contain silver, but it wouldn’t return to the Roosevelt Dime, Washington Quarter and Kennedy Half Dollar until 1992, and they would only be included in Proof Sets.
Silver Coin Content Table
As you can use this table to see how much silver each coin contained, you can also determine the melt value or minimum value of each coin by multiplying the current Silver Price per ounce by the number in the Silver (oz) column below.
|Three Cent||Silver||1851-1853||14||0.75 Silver, 0.25 Copper||0.8||0.0193|
|Three Cent||Silver||1854-1873||14||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||0.75||0.0218|
|1942-1945||21.2||0.56 Copper, 0.35 Silver,
|Half Dime||Flowing Hair||1794-1795||16.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||1.35||0.0388|
|Half Dime||Draped Bust||1796-1805||16.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||1.35||0.0388|
|Half Dime||Capped Bust||1829-1837||15.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||1.35||0.0388|
|Half Dime||Liberty Seated||1837-1853||15.5||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||1.34||0.0388|
|Half Dime||Liberty Seated||1853-1873||15.5||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||1.24||0.0362|
|Dime||Draped Bust||1796-1807||19||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||2.7||0.0775|
|Dime||Capped Bust||1809-1837||18.8||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||2.7||0.0775|
|Dime||Liberty Seated||1837-1853||17.9||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||2.67||0.0775|
|Dime||Liberty Seated||1853-1873||17.9||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||2.49||0.0721|
|Dime||Liberty Seated||1873-1891||17.9||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||2.5||0.07234|
|Dime||Barber||1892-1916||17.9||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||2.5||0.07234|
|Dime||Mercury||1916-1945||17.9||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||2.5||0.07234|
|Dime||Roosevelt||1946-1964||17.9||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||2.5||0.07234|
|Twenty Cent||Seated Liberty||1875-1878||22||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||5||0.1447|
|Quarter||Draped Bust||1796-1807||27.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||6.74||0.19350|
|Quarter||Capped Bust||1815-1828||27||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||6.74||0.1935|
|Quarter||Capped Bust||1831-1838||24.3||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||6.74||0.1935|
|Quarter||Liberty Seated||1838-1853||24.3||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||6.68||0.1934|
|Quarter||Liberty Seated||1853-1873||24.3||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||6.22||0.18|
|Quarter||Liberty Seated||1873-1891||24.3||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||6.25||0.18084|
|Quarter||Barber||1892-1916||24.3||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||6.25||0.18084|
|Quarter||Standing Liberty||1916-1930||24.3||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||6.25||0.18084|
|Quarter||Washington||1932-1964||24.3||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||6.25||0.18084|
|Half Dollar||Flowing Hair||1794-1795||32.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||13.48||0.3869|
|Half Dollar||Draped Bust||1796-1807||32.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||13.48||0.3869|
|Half Dollar||Capped Bust||1807-1836||32.5||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||13.48||0.3869|
|Half Dollar||Capped Bust||1836-1839||30||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||13.36||0.3867|
|Half Dollar||Liberty Seated||1838-1853||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||13.36||0.3867|
|Half Dollar||Liberty Seated||1853-1873||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||12.44||0.36|
|Half Dollar||Liberty Seated||1873-1891||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||12.5||0.36169|
|Half Dollar||Barber||1892-1916||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||12.5||0.36169|
|Half Dollar||Walking Liberty||1916-1947||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||12.5||0.36169|
|Half Dollar||Franklin||1948-1963||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||12.5||0.36169|
|Half Dollar||Kennedy||1964||30.6||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||12.5||0.36169|
|Half Dollar||Kennedy||1965-1970||30.6||Clad: 0.8, Silver 0.2
Copper Core: 0.209 Silver,
|Dollar||Flowing Hair||1794-1795||40||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||26.96||0.7737|
|Dollar||Draped Bust||1795-1804||40||0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper||26.96||0.7737|
|Dollar||Gobrecht||1836-1839||38.1||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||26.73||0.7736|
|Dollar||Liberty Seated||1840-1873||38.1||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||24.057||0.77344|
|Dollar||Trade Dollar||1873-1885||38.1||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||27.22||0.78780|
|Dollar||Morgan||1878-1921||38.1||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||26.73||0.77344|
|Dollar||Peace Dollar||1921-1935||38.1||0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper||26.73||0.77344|
|Dollar||Eisenhower||1971- 1976||38.1||Clad: 0.8 Silver,
0.2 Copper Core: 0.209 Silver,
|Dollar||American Eagle||1986-||40.6||0.9993 Silver 0.0007 Copper||31.10||1.00000|
There Are Many US Coins With Silver
I read somewhere that between 1794 and 1935, the United States minted almost 900,000,000 Silver Dollars. Personally, I didn’t think there were that many minted. Compare that to the 1964 and 1964-D Washington Quarters which saw over 1.2 billion minted. There were more quarters minted in that one year than over a century of Silver Dollars. Incredible!
Wouldn’t it be something if we saw silver in circulating coins again? I don’t think we’ll see that again will all those dimes and quarters minted each year. Besides, people would hoard them like they did back in the 1960s, but it would be something nice to see.