1979 feels old enough to belong to ancient history and too young to be a part of the distant past. It was a hopeful year, with exciting developments and worrisome moments. It’s the year China and the United States established full diplomatic ties, the year NASA’s first orbiting space station, Skylab, began its return to earth, and the year Margaret Thatcher was appointed Britain’s first female prime minister. It was also the year of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin release.
For coin collectors, 1979 has a special significance: It’s when the dollar finally returned for good. The U.S. mint stopped minting Peace dollars in 1935, and it wasn’t until 1971, with Ike dollars, that the dollar came back. In 1979, the U.S. mint released the Susan B. Anthony coin, proving that the U.S. government was finally ready to move on with dollars production.
In this article, you will learn the value of a 1979 dollar, along with factors that influence its worth, such as condition, mint mark, and rarity. You will also read about the history of this particular coin. Most importantly, you will be able to understand what makes this year’s coins so valuable to collectors and compare their pricing with other silver coins from different years.
The History or 1979 dollars
1979 dollars belong to the Susan B. Anthony Dollar series, which the U.S. minted from 1979 until 1981, with coining resuming in 1999 — but ending the very next year when the mint moved to Sacagawea dollars. The sudden stop in minting came because the general public wasn’t too thrilled with the coins. It was challenging to tell them apart from quarter dollars, plus the vending machine industry wasn’t too happy about the new coins.
The original design included Liberty on the obverse, following the same pattern as other coins of that era, such as the Lincoln cent and Washington quarter. The change to Susan B. Anthony was made after a Congress demand, making it the first U.S. coin with a portrait of an actual woman on its front side. This change of heart proves how important 1979 was for women’s rights and the fight against gender inequality.
The coin’s reverse side, or tails, represents an eagle in flight with an olive branch in its talons. The meaning behind the design is that it symbolizes not only strength but also peace. The designer of the coin was Frank Gasparro, a Philadelphia Mint engraver.
Unfortunately, the coin’s life was short. Production stopped in 1981, and apart from a brief break in 1999, the Susan B. Anthony dollar was discontinued.
Evaluating a 1979 dollar
While professional appraisers will evaluate your coins, you should be able to give a ballpark estimate of a coin’s value. Knowing how to assess coins is essential for two reasons:
- Avoid getting ripped off — Plenty of opportunists are looking to make a quick buck in a collectors’ market as lively as the coin market. Know what you’re buying and set a price range for yourself.
- Spotting fake coins — Just like with any other valuable item, counterfeit coins are out there. Coins are especially popular targets for counterfeiters, so always be on the lookout.
You will need a magnifying glass and a grading chart to help you assess your coin. Check the condition, mint mark (if there is one), and design. All these elements will determine the value of your dollar.
- Condition — The closer to the original design, with no scratches or damage, the more valuable your coin will be. The grades go from 0 to 70, with 70 being a perfect coin in its original condition and 0 meaning that it is barely distinguishable from other designs.
- Mint mark — Mint marks are small letters on the coins indicating where they were made. Three mints coined 1979 dollars: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. In the case of 1979 dollars, a Denver mint mark coin is usually worth less than a Philadelphia/San Francisco mint mark.
- Design errors — Many coin collectors look for errors in the design, such as a doubled die or misprint. These errors add considerable value to coins thanks to how scarce they are.
- Aesthetic appeal — Some coins are more appealing than others because of the design or color. For example, collectors love 1979 dollars with a rainbow effect, which makes them worth much more than regular dollars from that year. Other factors to look for include luster, toning, and eye appeal.
Here’s a video that shows you different 1979 dollars. You’ll learn more about the mint marks, condition, and design errors by watching this:
Let’s now get into the actual market value of these coins.
How Much Is A 1979 Silver Dollar Worth: 1979 Silver Dollar Value
Buying a 1979 dollar can be done in various ways. Your best bet is to visit an auction house or a coin shop specializing in silver coins from this era. You may also find them on eBay or other online marketplaces like Coin World.
What differentiates these shops is the triad of price, reliability, and speed. Auction sites are where the real bargains are, especially if you find an auction that is not widely known. Paradoxically, they are also where you can usually find the rarest coins. The downside of auctions is that you may miss an opportunity or spend much more than expected. You might have to wait months before a coin you like comes up for auction.
On the other hand, coin shops guarantee an instant purchase but are costlier. It’s a small price to be sure of what you’re getting. You should also factor in delivery times when shopping online, as it could take days before your coin arrives.
Let’s now see the market value of coins from all grades.
1979 dollar – Poor to Fine (Grades 0 to 15)
These coins have seen much use, to the point where their design is almost unrecognizable. Consequently, they are worth far less than coins in better condition.
Editor’s note: Ungraded (NG0) coins belong to this category.
Here are some examples of how much they’re worth:
A few coins breached the $100 mark:
Even those on a tight budget will find a collectible coin in this category.
1979 dollar – Very Fine to About Uncirculated (Grades 20 to 58)
The condition of these coins is way better than that of coins graded Poor to Fine. They have marks and scratches visible to the naked eye, but their design is still quite clear.
Editor’s note: No coins from the San Francisco mint were sold in this category.
Prices start for coins in this category start at $6:
- This AU55-P dollar sold for $6
- This AU58-D dollar sold for $6
- This AU58-D dollar sold for $7
- This AU55-P Wide Rim dollar sold for $15
- This AU55-P dollar sold for $63
A few Philadelphia coins manage to climb up to a few hundred dollars in value, with one exemplary going for thousands of dollars:
- This AU55-P dollar sold for $431
- This AU58-P dollar sold for $575
- This AU58-P dollar sold for $805
- This AU58-P dollar sold for $3,450
One interesting thing to note here is that few coins actually sell in this category. It might be hard to buy one for yourself, regardless of your budget.
1979 dollar – Uncirculated to Select Uncirculated (Grades 60 to 63)
As the name suggests, uncirculated coins are those that have never been used. They have some flaws, but you’ll need a magnifying glass to spot them.
Editor’s note: They are often referred to as “Mint State coins”.
The cheapest coins in this category are very affordable:
- This MS63-P dollar sold for $2
- This MS60-D dollar sold for $7
- This MS63-S dollar sold for $9
- This MS63-P Wide Rim dollar sold for $25
- This MS60-D dollar sold for $51
- This MS62-S dollar sold for $65
The next big price point in this category is around a few hundred dollars:
- This MS61-P dollar sold for $276
- This MS63-P Wide Rim dollar sold for $441
- This MS61-D dollar sold for $575
- This MS63-P dollar sold for $776
A few coins reached thousands of dollars in sales price:
- This MS63-P dollar sold for $2,585
- This MS60-P dollar sold for $2,760
- This MS60-S dollar that sold for $4,025
1979 dollar – Choice & Gem Uncirculated (64 to 66)
These coins are in near perfect condition and have minimal imperfections. They will command a high price tag — though that’s not necessarily always the case, as you’ll see soon.
Ironically, this is the category where the most coins sold to collectors. We aren’t sure why that is the case. It’s pretty common for uncirculated coins to be the most popular, as the circulated ones tend to get lost with the passing of time. But generally, the most common category is MS60 to MS63.
Prices for these coins start at a few dollars:
- This MS64-P dollar sold for $2
- This MS64-P Wide Rim dollar sold for $11
- This MS66-D dollar sold for $18
- This MS66-S dollar sold for $22
Prices then slowly rise, clustering around a few hundred dollars:
- This MS64-P Wide Rim dollar sold for $164
- This MS64-P dollar sold for $219
- This MS64-S dollar sold for $259
- This MS65-D dollar sold for $414
A bunch of coins sold for thousands of dollars, but only if they came from either the Philadelphia or San Francisco mints:
- This MS64-P dollar sold for $1,840
- This MS65-S dollar sold for $2,530
- This MS65-P dollar sold for $3,819
- This MS64-S dollar sold for $5,643
- This MS65-S dollar sold for $10,063
1979 dollar – Superb & Perfect Uncirculated (Grades 67 to 70)
These coins are so perfect, it’s hard to find any flaw on them. Many come with a hefty price tag, though you will also find more affordable pieces.
Prices start at $17:
Prices then start growing and cluster around a few hundred dollars:
- This MS67-P dollar sold for $250
- This MS67-P Wild Rim dollar sold for $660
- This MS67-D dollar sold for $403
- This MS67-S dollar sold for $300
The top pieces in this category go for thousands of dollars, with one breaking the $10,000 barrier:
- This MS68-D dollar sold for $1,528
- This MS67+-P dollar sold for $4,935
- This MS68-D dollar sold for $5,175
- This MS67+-P Wide Rim dollar sold for $6,463
- This MS67-P dollar sold for $15,275
There you have it. This list represents the various price tiers you can expect to pay to start your 1979 dollars collection. There are coins for all budgets, no matter how deep your pockets are.
FAQs about 1979 Dollars
How much is a 1979 silver dollar worth?
The value of a 1979 silver dollar depends on its condition, mint mark, and rarity. Coins in good to excellent condition can fetch several hundred dollars or more.
Where can I buy a 1979 silver dollar?
You can buy 1979 silver dollars from coin dealers, online auctions, and coin shops. Each one of these places comes with its pros and cons.
Are these dollars legal tender?
Technically, yes, but realistically, no. You will not find a merchant accepting this coin for a purchase. And it wouldn’t make much sense either way — you could sell your 1979 dollars for much more than their face value.
1979 dollars aren’t as fashionable as other coins because they are still relatively young. Looking at cash from before 1900, you’ll see that they are generally in higher demand than in recent years. However, if you see a 1979 silver dollar in good condition, we recommend that you snatch it up as soon as possible — it’s worth the investment.
Be careful, as people often refer to these as “1979 silver dollars,” but that’s wrong. There is no silver in these coins, as they’re made of copper-nickel, not silver. But that doesn’t make them any less valuable to collectors.
If you’re on the market for a 1979 dollar, you’ll notice that you can spend however little — or however much — as you want. Whether you only have a budget of a few dollars or are ready to splurge hundreds, you can find coins that will fit your needs.
Appraisers will be your best friends when you feel the coin you have your eyes on is worth more than the dealer is asking for. They can tell you if a dollar is legit or not and even give you an estimation of its value.
Ultimately, 1979 dollars are a solid way to start a collection or to grow one. Happy collecting!