Is a silver dollar one ounce?

The weight of a silver dollar has varied over the years, but generally speaking, a standard silver dollar coin contains approximately one troy ounce of pure silver. This makes it a popular coin for silver investors and collectors.

A Brief History of the Silver Dollar

The history of the silver dollar dates back to the late 18th century, when the Coinage Act of 1792 established the silver dollar as the cornerstone coin of the U.S. monetary system. The Coinage Act stipulated that a silver dollar should contain 371.25 grains of pure silver, which is very close to one troy ounce.

The first silver dollars were struck in 1794. These early silver dollars are highly prized by coin collectors today. The design featured a bust of Lady Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.

This original silver dollar design was replaced in 1798 by the Draped Bust dollar, which featured a small eagle reverse. In 1840, the Seated Liberty dollar debuted, replacing the Draped Bust design. The Seated Liberty dollar contained the same amount of silver as earlier dollar coins—about one ounce pure silver.

From 1878 to 1904, the silver dollar design featured a portrait of Lady Liberty wearing a cap with rays on the reverse. These silver dollars were minted with a standard silver purity of 90%, meaning they contained 0.77 ounces of pure silver. This decrease in silver content was authorized by the Coinage Act of 1873.

The Peace silver dollar was minted from 1921 to 1935. It featured a profile of the goddess of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle with an olive branch on the reverse. The Peace dollar had a fineness of .900 and contained 77% silver.

Finally, in 1971, the production of silver dollars for circulation was halted. Up until that point, every silver dollar minted for circulation contained close to one troy ounce of pure silver.

Silver Dollar Weights and Silver Content

Here is a breakdown of the silver content and weights of the most common silver dollar types:

Silver Dollar Type Weight Silver Content
Early Silver Dollars 1794-1803 26.96 grams .8924 fine silver, 0.77 ounce pure silver
Seated Liberty Dollars 1840-1873 26.73 grams .900 fine silver, 0.773 ounce pure silver
Trade Dollars 1873-1885 27.22 grams .900 fine silver, 0.783 ounce pure silver
Morgan Dollars 1878-1921 26.73 grams .900 fine silver, 0.773 ounce pure silver
Peace Dollars 1921-1935 26.73 grams .900 fine silver, 0.773 ounce pure silver

As the table shows, although the exact silver content changed slightly over the years, a standard U.S. silver dollar coin generally contained right around one troy ounce of pure silver.

Current Silver Dollar Coins

The U.S. Mint continues producing silver dollar coins today, but these modern silver dollars are only sold as collectibles and do not circulate as currency. Here are some of the main silver dollar coins in production today:

  • American Silver Eagle – 1 troy ounce .999 fine silver
  • Morgan Silver Dollar – Reproductions of the original 1878-1921 silver dollar with .900 silver content
  • Peace Silver Dollar – Reproductions of the 1921-1935 dollar coins with .900 silver content

These newer silver dollar coins follow the long-standing tradition of containing approximately one ounce of silver. The American Silver Eagle, as a bullion coin, contains a full troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver.


In summary, a standard U.S. silver dollar coin minted for circulation has historically contained right around one troy ounce of pure silver. This goes back to the early American silver dollars first authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792.

While the exact silver purity and weights have fluctuated slightly over the years, silver dollars generally adhered to the one-ounce silver standard up until production ceased in 1935. Today’s collectible silver dollar coins continue to maintain a one-ounce weight.

So in answer to the original question, yes, a silver dollar is approximately one ounce of silver, making it a popular choice for investors and collectors interested in buying physical silver.

Silver dollars are usually 90-99% pure silver, with only the remainder being alloy added for durability. This compares to bullion bars and rounds which are .999 fine silver.

Reasons to Buy Silver Dollars

There are many good reasons to buy silver dollar coins for your precious metals investment:

  • Silver dollars contain a full troy ounce of silver as a general rule, making them convenient to calculate silver value.
  • The historical significance provides numismatic value beyond silver melt value.
  • The recognizable designs are ideal for barter/trade in a crisis situation.
  • The smaller size compared to bars makes silver dollars divisible for smaller transactions.
  • Silver dollars come in protective packaging, unlike bars and rounds.
  • It’s fun to collect different designs and mint marks.

Silver dollars offer investors the intrinsic value of .999 fine silver along with the added benefit of their historical and collectible value. This makes them appealing for investors who want to hold a tangible asset with real, permanent value.


One of the most convenient features of silver dollars is that their weight contains approximately one troy ounce of silver. This makes calculating their precious metals value straightforward. Whether the coin is a Morgan, Peace, or American Silver Eagle dollar, you can quickly determine the melt value by taking the current .999 fine silver spot price and multiplying it by one.

Some investors prefer paying a slightly higher premium for the ease of calculating one-ounce silver coins compared to other sized bars and rounds. Silver dollars are an uncomplicated way to acquire and trade a standard unit of physical silver.

Historic Significance

Another advantage of silver dollars is their collectible appeal due to their historic significance. Many of the common silver dollar types like Morgan and Peace Dollars have been minted for 100+ years. These designs are iconic and remain highly sought-after.

While silver bars and rounds only have melt value, silver dollars often have numismatic value above the intrinsic silver value. This provides more upside potential if you ever choose to sell your silver dollar collection.

Owning a piece of American history also gives investors a tangible connection to the past. Coin collecting can be an educational hobby as well as a financial investment.


In a crisis situation where precious metals are needed as emergency currency, the familiarity of silver dollars makes them an ideal medium for barter and trade.

Most U.S. citizens would easily recognize historic silver dollars as valuable coins made of silver. But silver bars and rounds are relatively unknown to the general public. Silver dollars are a universally recognized unit of money.


The smaller size of silver dollar coins also gives them an advantage compared to larger silver bars when it comes to divisibility. One of the drawbacks of bars is that they are more difficult to divide into smaller amounts. But silver dollars can easily be traded in any quantity.

If you need to pay for something with a fraction of a silver ounce, it is much simpler to grab the appropriate number of silver dollar coins. Their compact size and uniform weight makes them highly divisible.


Another benefit of minted coins is that they come pre-packaged in protective capacules, sheets, or boxes directly from the mint. This prevents any damage to the finish or surface of the coins. Silver bars and rounds have no such packaging.

The packaging provides scratch resistance, helps prevent tarnishing, and allows the coins to be easily authenticated and identified. Silver dollars maintain their brilliant finish longer when properly packaged.

Fun To Collect

Finally, collecting silver dollars can simply be an engaging hobby. There are many different types of designs, dates, mint marks, and versions to look for when acquiring silver dollars.

Some investors enjoy assembling complete sets of silver dollars and chasing after rare coins. If you appreciate the history and artistry of vintage U.S. coinage, then silver dollars are an ideal investment option.

Disadvantages Of Silver Dollars

While there are clearly compelling reasons to buy silver dollars, there are also a few disadvantages to consider:

  • Higher premium over silver spot price.
  • No purity guarantee like minted coins.
  • Less silver per dollar invested.
  • More expensive to store large numbers.

Understanding both the pros and cons of silver dollars allows you to make an informed decision when adding silver to your investment portfolio.

Premium Cost

One obvious downside to silver dollars compared to generic silver rounds is the higher premium cost. The ornate designs and collectibility mean you will pay significantly more over spot price.

For example, a basic 1 oz silver round may have a 5% premium at any given time while a Morgan silver dollar might cost a 15% premium. This difference really adds up if you want to hold a large amount of silver.

No Guaranteed Purity

Another disadvantage is that silver dollars do not come with a purity guarantee from the mint like modern bullion coins. The exact purity and weight can vary slightly between individual coins.

Whereas an American Silver Eagle is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of .999 fine silver, historic silver dollars have a small margin of error. This makes their melt values harder to determine.

Less Silver Per Dollar

Due to the higher premiums, silver dollars also give you less metal per dollar invested compared to silver bars or rounds. When spot silver costs $20 per ounce, you may pay $23 or $24 for a silver dollar. That $4 premium above spot gives you 20% less silver.

If your goal is to maximize the amount of physical silver you hold for your dollar, then generic silver rounds or bars will allow you to stretch your investment capital further. With plain silver rounds selling for only a few percent above the silver value, you get more ounces for the money.

Storage Challenges

The final limitation of silver dollars has to do with storage. Silver bars pack tightly together allowing you to store large amounts in a secure safe or vault. But silver dollars take up much more space per ounce.

Storing or transporting thousands of silver dollars requires heavy, bulky boxes or tubes for the coins. This becomes impractical at a large scale, which is why many precious metals investors prefer buying bars over coins.

Tips For Buying Silver Dollars

If you want to start buying silver dollars, keep these tips in mind:

  • Understand the current premium over spot – Check a price chart to see historical premiums.
  • Find a reputable dealer – Only buy from established coin shops with positive reviews.
  • Evaluate coin condition – Buy coins graded AU/BU or MS/Proof to get the highest value.
  • Compare prices – Check various dealers to find the best asking price on silver dollars.
  • Consider buying certified coins – Third-party grading like PCGS or NGC provides authenticity.
  • Store coins securely – Use protective tubes, capsules, or folders to prevent damage.

Following these guidelines helps ensure you get the fairest deal when investing in silver dollars. Finding trustworthy dealers, understanding price premiums, and evaluating coin condition allows you to maximize the value of your investment.

Know the Premiums

Before buying silver dollars, research the typical premium above the melt value based on current spot silver prices. Premiums fluctuate daily based on market supply and demand.

Online precious metals retailers like APMEX, JM Bullion, and Money Metals Exchange publish up-to-date silver coin premiums on their websites. This gives you a reference point for comparison shopping.

Vet Your Dealer

Only buy silver dollars from highly-rated coin dealers with an established reputation in the industry. Confirm they are an authorized distributor for major mints like the U.S. Mint or private mints.

Review ratings from other customers and organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Read online feedback on numismatic forums to ensure a dealer is selling authentic silver dollars at fair prices.

Assess Coin Condition

When purchasing collectible silver dollars, be sure to carefully assess the coin’s condition. Higher grade coins in AU/BU or MS/Proof condition carry much higher premiums.

Examine coins or images closely to evaluate any signs of wear, scratches, toning, or other damage. Slight variations in condition dramatically impact silver dollar values.

Compare Prices

Always check with multiple reputable silver dollar dealers to find the best price when buying quantities. Premiums can vary across retailers based on current inventories and sales.

A dealer trying to liquidate excess inventory may offer silver dollars at lower premiums compared to other vendors. Saving a few percentage points in premiums can really add up on large silver purchases.

Consider Certified Coins

For collectible silver dollars, purchasing coins graded and authenticated by third-party services like PCGS or NGC provides added confidence. The sonically-sealed holders also protect the coins’ condition.

While certified silver dollars carry higher premiums, they are worth the added cost for rare dates and mint marks or for building high-end sets.

Store Coins Securely

Finally, be sure to store any silver dollars purchased in protective containers to prevent damage. Soft plastic capsules, rigid acrylic holders, velvet-lined folding boxes, or sealed tubes are ideal.

Toning, spotting, fingerprints, and other deterioration can negatively affect a coin’s aesthetic appeal. Proper storage helps maintain the condition and, consequently, the premium value.


Silver dollar coins have a long history in the United States dating back to the birth of the nation. The classic silver dollar has traditionally contained approximately one troy ounce of pure silver, whether in the form of Seated Liberty, Morgan, or Peace Dollars.

Today’s collectors can still find historic silver dollars minted with 90% silver purity or choose modern options like American Silver Eagles that are .999 fine. The iconic one-ounce size makes silver dollars a convenient way to accumulate physical silver.

Silver dollars enjoy a collectible premium due to their historic significance, recognizable designs, and aesthetic appeal. This provides upside potential beyond the intrinsic melt value. But their higher cost means you must pay 2-3x the premiums of plain silver rounds.

When buying silver dollars, be sure to use a reputable dealer, understand the current premiums, thoroughly evaluate coin condition, and find the best prices. Properly stored silver dollars can serve as valuable investments and tangible pieces of American history.

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