Why The West Is Overflowing With Silver Dollars

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(image provided by West Seattle Coins)

(image provided by West Seattle Coins)

Silver dollars are easily one of the most popular coins in the U.S. In the Western states, these collectors’ favorites are even more abundant. It seems like anyone with even the most modest coin collection has a couple Morgan silver dollars. If you’ve ever wondered why that is, the story is actually quite captivating.

To understand why the Morgan silver dollar is so prevalent in the West, you first must know the legend of the Comstock Lode. In 1859, two men were prospecting outside Carson City, Nevada, in Six Mile Canyon, when they struck gold. Unfortunately for them, Henry Comstock rode through the land on a borrowed mule, a few hours after their discovery. Despite the fact that he did not actually own the land the miners had found gold on, Comstock successfully staked claim to the spot. Perhaps out of sheer intimidation, Comstock became the miners’ partner.

A successful entrepreneur from the California gold rush, J.F. Stone later discovered that the land was saturated with even more silver than gold. He sent soil samples to be tested in California, and found that each ton of the dense black soil was chock full of nearly $5,000 worth of silver. In the 20 years the mine ran, it produced an astonishing $300,000,0000 worth of silver. According to the Consumer Price Index, that amount today would be well over $5,000,000,000. That amount doesn’t even factor in today’s cost of silver, which would make the number astronomical. The Comstock Lode is still the largest silver discovery in U.S. history.

The Carson City Mint was created as a direct result of the Comstock Lode. With the enormous amount of silver and gold nearby, the Carson City Mint transformed the raw metals into silver and gold bullion. From the Carson City’s first pressing in 1870 to its last in 1893, the short-lived mint facility issued 50 sets of silver coins.

Silver dollars were being mass-produced in a time when coinage was losing popularity to paper money on the East coast. But the West coast preferred cold, hard cash to bank notes. The Carson City Mint wasn’t the only mint to use silver from the Comstock Lode, however. San Francisco and Denver both produced a large number of silver dollars as well. As a result, a massive amount of silver dollars were produced out West, and that’s why they are more common in this area.

Cowboys nicknamed these notoriously tough coins “Cartwheels” due to their considerable size and weight. Silver dollars minted before the 1960s contain 90% silver, and weigh over 3/4 of an ounce. It’s no wonder coin collectors dubbed the Morgan silver dollar “The King of America’s Coins.”

West Seattle Coins specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was established in 1979 in the West Seattle Junction. We also buy and sell gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.

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