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Silver Coin Collections - Morgan Silver Dollars

October 20th, 2011 Coins

Add Fun and Magic to Your Coin Collection

Take a break from Lady Liberty and the American Eagle in favor of a little Disney magic! In the 1980s, seven Disney silver coins were released, to celebrate Disney around the world. Each 1 troy ounce coin features a different Disney scene, and is a commemorative proof.

The first of the seven features all of your favorite Disney characters holding hands. This “Disney Around the World” coin features:

  • Minnie Mouse
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Goofy
  • Donald Duck
  • Daisy Duck
And on the back:
  • Pinocchio
  • Peter Pan
  • Snow White
  • Dopey
The rest of the set features one or two of the characters on their own coins.

Happy Birthday Mickey: Another noteworthy collection of Disney silver coins is the 60th anniversary of Mickey Mouse set. This set of seven coins depicts different eras in Mickey’s life, starting at his birth in 1928 as Steamboat Willie.

There’s Happy, and Dopey, and…Snow White even has her own coin set, with each of the dwarfs featured on eleven coins (including one for Prince Charming, the Wicked Witch, and the Hunter and Queen). These come in either silver or gold.

Gift Cards Worth Their Weight in Silver? And last but not least, Disney issued collectible gift card coins in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Each came in a fold out card and featured a different Disney scene.

Around the World in Silver Coins

Because most countries stopped issuing silver coins around the time of World War I (at least for circulation; today there are many commemorative silver coins), world silver coins are all the more valuable. Today, silver colored coins are made of cupro-nickel, an alloy of copper and nickel. Here are a few of the rare silver coins you might find in your collecting efforts.

1953 Panama Half Balboa: This silver coin celebrates Panama’s 50th anniversary of independence from Colombia in 1903. On the front of the coin is Balboa, the European who first discovered the Pacific Ocean. The reverse side displays Panama’s coat of arms.

Macao’s First Silver Coin: This uncirculated 5 Pataca coin was Macao’s first silver coin, issued in 1952. On one side is the Macao coat of arms; on the other, Portugal’s coat of arms. It is worth approximately $12 today.

Tibetan Silver “White” Tangka: The “White” Tangka was originally issued at the end of the 18th century, replacing the “Black” Tangka. Multiple designs and varieties of this coin were issued until the 1940s. More beautiful than many coins, the Tangka features an image of a lotus blossom, as well as several symbols from Buddhism.
Piece of Eight: For a piece of pirate history, the Spanish silver 8 Real cob, also known as a Piece of Eight, can’t be beat. These coins were recovered from the Spanish treasure ship, Santa Maria de la Consolocion, which was attacked by pirates in 1681, and was burned. The coins date between 1660 and 1680.


Christmas, Numismatist Style

Come holiday time, don’t let your favorite coin collector slip down on your gift giving list. In fact, he or she is probably the easiest to buy for! A recent trend for dealers and collectors to invest in is a silver Christmas coin. Every year designers create new coins that serve as great collectibles and gifts!

Santa, angels, Christmas trees, and snowflakes on coins are diverse and beautiful, and covered with cheery holiday images. In spirit with the season of Noel, online dealers offer the coins in beautiful red or green display cases, and ship them gift wrapped to go straight under your Christmas tree!

And given that ‘tis the season for Christmas trees, the coins can be purchased in the form of a tree ornament, allowing all to see the shiny brilliance of your latest holiday coin.

An interesting British twist on the silver Christmas coin is putting a square shaped coin or token in a plum pudding. The lucky pudding eater who receives the coin in her spoon (hopefully discovering it prior to biting down) is said to have luck in the new year. This is similar to the King’s Cake tradition in Louisiana, which involves a plastic baby rather than a coin.

Everyone Has a Lucky Coin

In 2006, a French silver coin was found implanted in the hull of a medieval ship found in a river in Newport, England. The coin, from the 15th century, likely served as a good luck piece for the ship and its crew. Many ships, both in the past and in the present, place coins under the mast or in the keel to guide them safely on their journey.

This coin helped identify the ship as coming from France. Prior to discovering the coin, the team uncovering the ship’s remains could not be sure of its origin. The artifacts on board were not British, as would be expected, but European, and difficult to pinpoint.

Experts affirmed that the coin was a petit blanc coin, minted in Crémieu, France, at the time Dauphin Louis de France ruled (who later became King Louis XI). The coin was minted between 1440 and 1456, and was likely new when it was inserted into the ship’s flesh, and it had little wear.

Once the ship is completely recovered, it will be reconstructed and displayed in a subterranean gallery beneath the city of Newport’s art center. If you make it to the display, be sure to find the coin!

History Lesson: the Chinese Silver Sycee

Long before the birth of the quarter (or George Washington, for that matter), the Chinese silver coins of choice were called Sycee [sahy-see]. Because silver was so rare in ancient China, the Sycee was used only for larger transactions (other cash coins were used for small transactions), therefore, only the very rich ever laid hands on them!

Throughout the Sycee’s lifetime, the coin was decorative and appealing to the eye. Sycee came in a variety of interesting shapes and designs, depending on the area of China they were cast in. Each piece was marked with words of identification. Some shapes of Sycees include:

  • Boats
  • Bowls
  • Flowers
  • Squares
  • Drums
  • Shoes
Unlike modern coins, each Sycee was handmade, making each one unique and valuable. Finding one is a difficult task these days, as many were melted down and used to make silver coins in the past. If you do begin your hunt for the elusive Sycee, beware of fraudulent versions. Familiarize yourself with authentic coins, and do as much research as you can, as the fake versions are very realistic to the untrained eye.

Pricing the sycee is tricky business. Because each is different, its value is up to the buyer. The clarity of the writing on the piece, as well as the general condition, are important factors in pricing a Sycee.

History of Silver Coins

Silver, while an important element in U.S. coinage history, is all but extinct today. Let’s take a walk back in the past. In 1792, the following coins were first minted in silver:

  • The dollar
  • The half-dollar
  • The quarter
  • The dime
  • The half-dime
Coins continued to be minted in silver until 1966, when a “silver crisis” meant that quarters and dimes would no longer be silver. From 1965 to 1970, the composition of the half dollar was reduced to just 40 percent silver. The Bicentennial Kennedy half dollar was made up of 80 percent silver and 20 percent copper. Because silver is precious, and coins too prolific, it is not feasible that circulating coins are made with silver. Today, these coins consist of a copper core and an outer layer made of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel alloy.

Popular with investors and collectors are pre-1965, 90 percent silver content in coins, which are considered “survival” coins, to be used in the event of a monetary system failure (hey, you never know). Other collectors prefer the 1 ounce silver round, 1 ounce American Silver Eagle, or old silver dollars for their collection.

Privately minted coins, which are not struck by the U.S. Mint, but rather private mints, are another option that are affordable if you’re collecting silver coins.

How to Start a Silver Coin Collection

If collecting silver coins excites you, here are the basics you need to start a great collection.

  1. What do you want? Decide what you want to collect. American eagle silver bullion coins? British silver coins? Old silver coins? Start with one type and expand into others as you sharpen your numismatic skills (just a fancy word for the study of currency and its history).
  2. Bone up. Like anything, research is your best tool to knowing all about your interest. There are books, magazines, and websites dedicated to every kind of silver coin you can collect. Use these resources to learn about coin grades, what they’re worth, and where you can sell or trade them.
  3. Complete your collection. Spend time completing an entire set of coins, including one from each year and mint mark. The mint mark tells you where the coin was made, and often it’s not the same place every year.
  4. Network. Get to know other people who collect coins at shows, as well as your local coin shop. This way, you can compare collections and find the silver coins you’re missing, as well as get valuable insight into your hobby.
  5. Show the world! Put your collection in a display album to keep your coins safe and visible.
Here are some other tips to consider when starting out:
  • Never, ever clean a coin! You reduce its value by doing so. (some collectors debate this one)
  • Start small. Don’t go for the rare, one-of-a-kind coins until you’re ready.
  • Always handle a coin by its rim. It’s bad manners and bad for the coin to get your finger oils on the coin!

Mistakes That Could Make You Money!

Even the U.S. Mint makes mistakes from time to time. But rather than throwing out coins without parts imprinted, or made in the wrong materials, you should display them! Or better yet -- sell them, as some are worth a small fortune! There are three basic types of errors a coin can have:

  • Die errors
  • Planchet errors (a planchet is the flat piece of metal a coin is stamped on)
  • Striking errors
Here are two noteworthy silver error coins you would be lucky to come across:

1965 Silver Dime: In 1964, the U.S. Mint stopped (deliberately) making silver dimes. But in 1965, a mistake created an unknown number of silver dimes, and research shows a single silver coin worth over $9,000 today! You can tell if your coin is silver because it has a silver edge, whereas copper and nickel coins have a brown edge. Also, silver dimes weigh 2.50 grams, while a copper/nickel dime weighs 2.27 grams.

2007 Little Rock Silver Dollar: These U.S. silver dollar coins were designed to pay homage to the integration at Central High School in 1957. In 2007, the Mint made an error by releasing into circulation several of these coins that had a hairline mark on the front, due to a die crack. The MS69 graded coin sells for $500 online.

Morgan Silver Dollar

One of the U.S. coins most sought-after by collectors is the Morgan Silver Dollar coin. In the late 1870s, Congress decided to bring back the silver dollar, replacing the Liberty Seated design that stopped being issued in 1873. Per orders from the U.S. Mint Director, designer George T. Morgan created an image of Liberty’s portrait, up close and personal.

Here are some interesting facts about the Morgan Silver Dollar coin:

  • Morgan used schoolteacher Anna Willess Williams as the model for Liberty.
  • The eagle on the reverse side of the coin is so emaciated, many have dubbed it the "buzzard dollar!”
  • After production of the coin began with the eagle bearing seven tail feathers, it was ordered that he have eight. So some coins from 1878 have an eagle with seven feathers, others with eight, and some with seven that were re-stamped with eight.
  • The coin didn’t become recognized as a valuable collectible until the 1960s.
  • In the 1970s, over 400,000 Morgan dollars were found in the basement of Nevadan eccentric, LaVere Redfield.
Although this silver coin created barely a ripple when it was first issued, it is now one of the most popular coins among numismatists. Collectors often find it difficult to get their hands on the issues they seek.

What Sign Are Your Coins?

Today, silver lunar coins are quite popular commemorative items among collectors. In fact, both Australia and Canada have both issued sets of lunar sign coins.

Not familiar with the lunar calendar? Here’s a brief history. The Chinese Lunar Calendar began in 2600 BC. A different animal is associated with each lunar cycle, which lasts 12 years. So every year is the “year of” a different animal. It is believed that the characteristics associated with each animal influence people born under the animal’s sign.

Australia
After the popularity of its gold lunar coin issued in 1996, the Perth Mint of Australia decided to issue a set of silver lunar coins in 1999. The silver coins came in five sizes:

  • 1/2 ounce
  • 1 ounce
  • 2 ounces
  • 10 ounces
  • Kilo (the world’s largest silver coin)
Canada
Canada liked the lunar calendar so much, it issued two different sets of coins based on the calendar! In the 2000s, the Canadian mint issued coins with the familiar maple leaf and Elizabeth II, which had privy marks of the lunar calendar animals.

Additionally, the Royal Canadian Mint issued $15 coins that included all the animals from the calendar. In the center of each is one featured animal. Each year, a different animal was released.