Things were going smoothly in the United States in 1926. The president of the time, Calvin Coolidge, took a pro-business stance and promoted cuts on the federal budget. It was a year of preparation for bigger things to come.
Problems were brewing in Europe with the Nazi party getting funded again the year before after getting banned from politics. 1926 was the year the Nazis started getting their claws around the German government, with Joseph Goebbels, the soon-to-become minister of propaganda, becoming Berlin’s Gauleiter. Everyone was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Another world war and one of the biggest atrocities humankind has ever witnessed.
The period of peace was symbolized by the dollar series used in the United States: The Peace dollar series, minted from 1921 to 1935. Collectors nowadays prize the 1926 silver dollar for its numismatic value, which can reach well into the tens of thousands of dollars.
In this article, you are going to learn everything you need to know about 1926 silver dollars. How to evaluate one, how to spot a fake, and how valuable they can get.
The History of the 1926 Silver Dollar
1926 silver dollars are part of the Peace dollar series, which ran from 1921 to 1935. As the name suggests, the Peace dollar was created to celebrate the end of the Great War and a period of peace and international stability.
The coin was designed by Anthony de Francisci, an Italian-American sculptor famous for his Liberty-themed works. He drew his inspiration from the Statue of Liberty, with Lady Liberty’s profile featured prominently on the coin’s obverse.
The reverse side of the 1926 silver dollar features a bald eagle perched atop a mountain crag, symbolizing America’s victory over war and hatred. The words “In God We Trust” are featured on both sides of the coin, with “United States of America” stamped around the circumference.
Editor’s note: The peace dollar was the last dollar minted for over 30 years, as silver dollar minting stopped due to silver shortages until the Coinage Act of 1965. Production resumed in 1971 with the Ike dollars.
The 1926 silver dollar was minted in three different locations: Denver, San Francisco, and Philadelphia and was made of 90% silver and 10% copper. However, the coin is much more worth than its weight in silver, thanks to its value as a collectible.
Let’s see how you can figure out how valuable a 1926 silver dollar can be.
Evaluating a 1926 Silver Dollar
Knowing how to evaluate coins is crucial for anyone getting into collecting them. There are two main reasons for this necessity. One, it saves you from overpaying for poor-quality coins. Two, it lets you spot fakes, which, unfortunately, plague the world of collectibles.
Here’s what you’ll have to carefully examine to evaluate a coin:
- The coin’s condition – Grab your coin, a magnifying glass, and a grading chart to figure this out. Examine the coin and compare it to those on the grading chart to assign a numeric value from 0 to 70, with higher numbers being better. Coins in better conditions fetch way higher prices at auction.
- The coin’s rarity – The point of collectibles is owning something few others possess. Rarity is based on simple supply and demand laws — the more people desire a coin compared to its availability, the rarer – and therefore more expensive – it will be.
- Mint mark – 1926 silver dollars could be minted at one of Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Coins without a mint mark come from Philadelphia, coins with a “D” mint mark come from Denver, and coins with an “S” mint mark come from San Francisco. Since each mint creates a different number of coins, those from mints with lower mintage are rarer and thus more expensive.
- Looks – This is a subjective evaluation of the coin’s looks. The better it looks, the more valuable it will be. A typical example would be a coin with a lovely luster that makes it shinier than another coin in the same condition. Full Lines is a classic denomination in coin evaluation that describes the relationship between a coin’s looks and value.
- Minting errors– Paradoxically, while we favor coins that resemble the original design as close as possible, we also prize those with minting errors. The reason is, again, supply and demand. The supply of coins with minting errors is minuscule, while demand is high as collectors love coins with minting errors.
Here’s a video showcasing how the evaluation process works:
Now that you know how to evaluate a 1926 silver dollar, let’s see how valuable they are on the market.
The Market Value of 1926 Silver Dollars
Where you buy your 1926 silver dollars affects the price you are going to pay. There are 3 main avenues where you can buy a 1926 silver dollar:
- Online marketplaces like eBay – These places offer the widest selection and decent prices, but they are unreliable, and higher-graded coins are hard to find here.
- Auction houses – These are usually the most expensive option, but they also offer the highest-quality pieces.
- Antique shops – These are the most reliable option and also the fastest, but they usually have poor selection and higher prices than average.
We created a list of coins to better show you how their price changes based on their grade.
1926 Silver Dollar – Poor to Fine (Grades 0 to 15)
Coins in this category are barely recognizable. They have so worn they only have enough details to identify that they are 1926 silver dollars.
Editor’s note: NG0 means not graded.
Prices start at around the $20 mark:
Prices then rise linearly and get up to around $100:
A few NG0 coins breached the $1,000 mark:
The record prices in this group go to these 2 San Francisco minted coins:
1926 Silver Dollar – Very Fine to About Uncirculated (Grades 20 to 58)
Most of the design of the coins in this group is visible. However, there are lots of imperfections that show the wear and tear it went through. The coin’s surface is littered in chips and marks, and it’s generally unpleasant to the eye.
Prices in this group start at $11-$30:
- This XF40 coin sold for $11
- This AU50-S coin sold for $14
- This AU50-D coin sold for $21
- This AU55-D coin sold for $30
- This AU58 coin sold for $37
Prices then rise linearly up to around $100:
There is one coin that managed to reach $300:
1926 Silver Dollar – Uncirculated to Select Uncirculated (Grades 60 to 63)
Coins with the uncirculated grade weren’t used in daily life. They show no signs of wear, but they do have a weak or average strike, and there are some imperfections on its surface.
Fun fact: The numismatic gallery held an auction in January 1945, and there a coin from each mint in this category sold for $3. Here they are: The Philadelphia coin, the Denver coin, and the San Francisco coin.
Prices for these coins start at $17-$40:
Prices then rise slowly and linearly up to around $130:
We then see a few coins going for around $350-$400:
- This MS63-S coin sold for $345
- This MS63 coin sold for $376
- This MS63-D coin sold for $410
- This MS63-S coin sold for $470
2 coins minted in San Francisco went for $978 and $1,840 respectively.
1926 Silver Dollar – Choice & Gem Uncirculated (64 to 66)
Coins in this category look perfect to the naked eye. To find imperfections, you’ll need a magnifying glass. Their strike is above average. Surprisingly, this is where most of coins have been sold in past auctions.
Here’s where the mint starts affecting prices a lot. For example, you’ll only find Philadelphia coins at around the $40-$50 mark:
San Francisco and Denver coins start at around $100:
Prices then start rising. A big price cluster is at around $2,000:
We then find a bunch of coins that went for $10,000-$15,000:
- This MS66+ coin sold for $13,000
- This MS66+-D coin sold for $15,601
- This MS66+-S coin sold for $16,450
This is where we stop finding Philadelphia and Denver coins. A few San Francisco ones, on the other hand, have sold for even higher prices:
- This MS65-S coin sold for $25,200
- This MS66+-S coin sold for $38,400
- This MS66+-S coin sold for $41,125
1926 Silver Dollar – Superb & Perfect Uncirculated (Grades 67 to 70)
These are the coins that are basically as good as new. They present no wear, not even under a magnifying glass.
Prices start at around $6,000-$7,000 but you’ll find only Denver coins at this price point:
A few coins went for $14,000-$20,000:
Going up we find a few coins sold for $30,000-$47,000:
- This MS67-D coin sold for $29,900
- This MS67-S coin sold for $32,200
- This MS67-D coin sold for $47,000
The record auction was for this MS67 coin that went for $120,000.
1926 Silver Dollars Minting Errors
Minting errors inflate a coin’s price at auctions, as these are very rare and sought-after by collectors. Here are the known minting errors to look out for when analyzing 1926 silver dollars:
Reverse misaligned die — The reversed misaligned die is noticeable on the 1926-D peace dollars. A misaligned error occurs when the top hammer die is incorrectly aligned with the bottom anvil die. So, when the coin is struck, the design is slightly off-sided.
Obverse struck-through — The most common minting error is caused when a speck of dust or debris is accidentally struck onto a coin. These errors are usually tiny and inconceivable in that they have no significant impact on the coin’s value but still qualify as errors. Collectors will, however, pay a premium for struck-through errors.
These are known, but you might run into a coin with other types of errors. Keep a look out for these.
FAQs about 1926 Silver Dollars
Are 1926 silver dollars still legal tender?
Technically yes, you should be allowed to spend them, but they are way more valuable than their face value and zero merchants will accept them. So not really.
What makes a 1926 silver dollar valuable?
Good conditions and minting errors mostly. Note that the coin is almost 100 years old, which is what makes it rare. Also, many were melted afterwards for their silver content, as a result of the silver shortage of the 30s.
How do I store my 1926 silver dollars?
The best way to store 1926 silver dollars is hard plastic holders.
The great news about collecting 1926 silver dollars is that even those on a budget can easily find one for a few tens of dollars. You don’t need to be a millionaire to collect them, though higher-end ones are expensive.
If you’re considering buying coins as an investment, go ahead. It’s likely that these will only become more valuable as time passes and takes their toll on the coin’s population. But it’s not clear whether it’s worth investing in – you might make some money. Still, there are safer ways of investing your hard-earned money.
Are you in the market for a 1926 silver dollar? Then make sure to do your research and buy only authentic coins. Unfortunately, fakes abound in this market, as dishonest people are in for a quick buck. If you’re unsure about a coin’s value or if you’re dealing with a genuine one, consult an appraiser. They’ll grade your coin for a small fee.