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Digital Subscriptions > COINage > Feburary 2019 > Everything you always wanted to know about

Everything you always wanted to know about

America’s early silver coinage


The longtime King of American silver coins, the 1804 silver dollar. This piece belonged to one of the first great American coin collectors, Joseph Mickley, and its acquisition by him from the Mint in the 1840s helped ignite the passion of other early collectors.

After 13 years of Flowing Hair and Draped Bust silver coinage by Chief Engraver Robert Scot, a new Capped Bust design was created by Assistant Engraver John Wright in 1807. It was used on all silver denominations until the late 1830s, and the eagle on the reverse was used on the quarter and the half until 1891!

To my mother’s generation, “the good silver” meant the fancy knives and forks and spoons that she got as a wedding present in 1941 that we only got out at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, even if I knew that it was only silver plate that needed to be polished by us kids before each said dinner. To my father’s generation, “Silver” was the Lone Ranger’s horse on the radio broadcasts. In metallurgy, silver is a semi-precious metal prized for its luster and ductility. It made great jewelry but lousy tools, which is why we had an “Iron Age” and a “Bronze Age” but never a “Silver Age.” Nevertheless, its world-wide desirability eventually caused it to be melted and poured into lumps of approximately the same size and weight, stamped with iron dies carved with intricate designs, and used as coins to buy iron and bronze from people that had them, or wheat and lumber and sandals to give people food and shelter and clothing.

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COINage February 2019, Inside Look, First U.S. Silver Coins, Scott Travers' Top 12 Coins for 2019, And More......