Return of the Silver Dollar

The last American silver dollars produced and released for circulation were the 1935 Peace Dollars. Following the massive production of the past few decades, which was required by certain legislation, there were more than enough coins remaining within Treasury stockpiles to satisfy the needs of circulation. Over the years, bags upon bags or silver dollars were slowly paid out to banks or individuals who requested them.

By the 1960’s, the rate of withdrawal from the silver dollars in storage began to increase. Millions began to be withdrawn, leading to the threat of a nationwide coin shortage. Congressmen from the regions where the coins were used most frequently in circulation, called for new production to begin. In 1964, legislation was passed, which would require the US Mint to strike more silver dollars.

The Denver Mint produced some 300,000 silver one dollar coins that were never issued. These coins carried the same Peace Dollar design by Anthony De Francisci that had been introduced in 1921 and used until 1935. The obverse of the coin showed an image of Liberty, who is said to have been modeled after the artist’s wife Teresa Cafarelli. The reverse features an eagle perched on a stone with the word “Peace.” Before the newly minted coins could be released, they were ordered to be recalled and melted. Presumably the entire mintage was melted and lost to collectors and future generations.

Subsequently, the Coinage Act of 1965, which took the silver out of most circulating coins, would require a five year ban on the silver dollar. Around 1969, when the ban was about to end, the idea emerged to create a new dollar coin featuring President Eisenhower, who had died recently. The plan eventually resulted in a copper nickel clad struck coin with no silver content. The coins would carry the same diameter of the classic silver dollars.

The first of the so-called Eisenhower Dollars were released in 1971. Under a special provision of the authorizing legislation, quantities of the coins with silver content were struck and offered for sale to collectors. From 1971 to 1974, the US Mint produced the dollar coins with a composition of 40% silver. None of these coins were issued into circulation, but sold to collectors for $3.00 each for uncirculated coins and $10.00 each for proof coins.

Perhaps it was not the way most people would have envisioned it, but after a lapse of more than 30 years, the United States experienced the return of the silver dollar.

Posted on March 9, 2010 at 1:46 pm by admin · Permalink
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