Who is on a silver dollar? Silver dollars hold intrigue for coin collectors and history buffs alike. If you’ve ever wondered exactly whose face graces these iconic American coins, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Silver dollars feature images of prominent American women and men from history, including early presidents, activists, explorers, and more.

In this guide, we will explore the history of silver dollar coinage, providing details on the specific notable figures that have been featured on these coins over the years. Read on to satisfy your curiosity about these fascinating coins!

Background on Silver Dollar Coins

When Silver Dollars Were First Minted

The first official silver dollars were minted in 1794 following the passing of the Coinage Act of 1792, which established the United States dollar as the country’s standard monetary unit. Up until then, people had used a variety of coins including Spanish dollars.

The new US silver dollars were modeled on the popular Spanish dollars but included unique American designs.

Why Silver Dollars Were Made

Silver dollars were originally made because the US wanted to have an official dollar coin that would be recognized both domestically and globally for trade. Silver was chosen because it was valued highly and thought to give the coins inherent value.

The large size of silver dollars also made them useful as a store of wealth and means of large transactions.

Later, massive silver discoveries, such as the Comstock Lode in Nevada, allowed the US to mine substantial amounts of silver from its own land. This made the production of silver dollars practical on a huge scale.

From 1878-1904 and again in 1921, millions of silver dollars were minted in the US to take advantage of the nation’s silver reserves.

Key Silver Dollar Designs Over the Years

Some iconic silver dollar designs include:

  • The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar – 1794-1795. The very first US silver dollar featured a portrait of Liberty with long, flowing hair on one side.
  • The Seated Liberty Silver Dollar – 1840-1873. This classic design with Liberty seated holding a shield was created by Christian Gobrecht and used across many denominations.
  • The Morgan Silver Dollar – 1878-1904, 1921. Possibly the most widely recognizable silver dollar with a portrait of Liberty by George T. Morgan. Over 500 million were minted.
  • The Peace Silver Dollar – 1921-1935. Designed by Anthony de Francisci to commemorate peace after World War I featuring the word “PEACE.”
Decade Silver Dollars Minted
1790s 1,758,000
1840s 15,439,000
1870s 27,227,000
1880s 238,775,000
1890s 130,048,000

Early Silver Dollars (1794-1935)

Draped Bust Silver Dollars

The Draped Bust silver dollar was among the first ever dollar coin minted in the United States. Lady Liberty is featured on the obverse wearing a cap and a drape bust, hence the name. These coins were minted from 1795-1804 at the Philadelphia, Denver, and New Orleans mints.

Seated Liberty Silver Dollars

The Seated Liberty silver dollars succeeded the Draped Bust dollars, being minted from 1840-1873. As the name suggests, Lady Liberty is featured sitting down holding a shield and arrows. There were a few variations throughout the years with added stars and arrows.

Trade Silver Dollars

Trade silver dollars were minted specifically for commerce with China and Japan from 1873-1885. The obverse depicts a seated Lady Liberty similar to the previous design, but the reverse showed an eagle clutching arrows, olive branches, and wearing a national shield.

Morgan Silver Dollars

Named after its designer, George T. Morgan, the Morgan silver dollar was minted from 1878-1904, and again in 1921. Over 500 million Morgan dollars were minted, making them one of the most abundant silver dollars. Lady Liberty appears with an eagle reverse.

Peace Silver Dollars

As commemoratives marking the official end of World War I and the peace that followed, the last silver dollar series minted for circulation were the Peace silver dollars produced from 1921-1935. The coin featured a youthful Lady Liberty on one side and a majestic bald eagle clutching an olive branch on the other.

Who Is On A Silver Dollar – Conclusion

Silver dollars have a rich history stretching back over 200 years. These hefty 90% silver coins showcase some of the most influential figures in early American history, from presidents to activists to explorers.

So the next time you get your hands on one of these old silver cartwheels, take a moment to appreciate the prominent man or woman depicted on its face. Their legacy lives on, thanks to their Silver Dollar immortality!

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