Dollars

The silver dollar has played an important role in the history of the American monetary system. American currency essentially began with the silver dollar, which further enhances its appeal to investors and collectors. During the Revolution, Americans had already accepted the Spanish dollar as the primary unit of value in the market. This dollar was known as a Spanish peso, the abbreviation for which (S and P superimposed) eventually lead to the “$” symbol for the dollar. The silver coin minted by the Spanish in the 1700s was worth eight “reals” of Spanish gold, and merchants would cut the dollar into eight pieces, known as “bits,” to make change. Congress officially adopted the Spanish milled dollar as the U.S. unit of value in 1785, a decision codified in 1792 by the Coinage Act. From 1794 to 1935, the treasury coined about 900 million silver dollars. The silver dollars coined had 46 grains of silver, the standard set by the Spanish dollar. The treasury also coined half dollars, quarters, dimes, and half dimes, all of which had proportionate quantities of silver. The worth of gold eagles was also determined relative to silver, with each gold eagle worth ten silver dollars. The U.S. continued using silver for its coinage until 1965 when President Nixon announced that the U.S. would no longer redeem currency for silver or gold. In addition to their historical significance and aesthetic appeal, silver dollars can make for solid investments in silver because of their high composition of the white metal.

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