Top 15 Best Silver Coins To Collect
What are the best silver coins to collect for investment? It’s a question many folks ask when building their coin collections.
The process of assembling a coin collection allows the collector to choose their favorite pieces. There are many coins that represent important historical or numismatic milestones. Then there are the rare, sought-after silver coins that investment-minded collectors have pursued for generations.
This article contains a list of 15 of the best silver coins to collect. It ranges from highly common coins that can be obtained for as little as $10 or $20 to pieces that reach into five-figure territory.
While few collectors might pursue all 15 of these coins, each one could easily serve as a springboard for assembling larger sets. They may include a particular design, date run, or period in United States coinage history.
1851 Three Cent Silver
1851 silver trime. Image: USA CoinBook
One of the physically smallest and lightest coins the United States has ever produced is the silver three-cent coin. They were struck during the mid 19th century to help make buying three-cent first-class postage stamps easier.
The silver three-cent series has become a popular collectible among those specializing in minor United States coinage and particularly odd-denomination coins. The first coin in the silver three-cent series was struck in 1851 and saw a mintage of 5,447,400 pieces.
An 1851 silver three-cent can be had for $50 in the grade of Fine-12. Even in uncirculated grades, a specimen can be purchased for less than $300. This makes it a relatively affordable silver coin—and a terrific conversation piece, to boot.
1792 Half Disme
1792 half disme. Image: PCGS CoinFacts
One of the first coins ever commissioned by the United States was the 1792 half disme. Its denominational name derives from a French spelling referring to “tenth” and later Americanized to “dime.”
There’s much legend surrounding this early Federal-era silver coin, which is largely regarded as a pattern. However, many circulated examples exist, leaving some to classify it as a regular-issue coin. About 1,500 were struck in a Philadelphia basement while the first United States Mint was still under construction nearby. They were struck under the direction of President George Washington, shepherded by the first United States Mint Director David Rittenhouse, and distributed by Thomas Jefferson.
That's quite the pedigree! This coin has every right to be called a national treasure. Circulated examples can be had for around $35,000 to $50,000.
1942-P Jefferson Wartime Nickel
1942-P Wartime Jefferson nickel.
The United States jumped into World War II in 1941, a couple of years after the conflict began conflagrating in Eurasia. The international conflict helped put an end to the Great Depression. It also called Americans to rally together in liberating nations overseas while protecting ours from powers who wished to overtake the United States. In doing so, the U.S. needed to conserve certain critical materials to aid the war effort, including nickel—important for artillery.
In October 1942, U.S. Congress permitted the U.S. Mint to replace the nickel content in the five-cent coin with an alloy consisting of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. The new composition was demarcated on coins with a large mintmark over the dome of Monticello on the reverse of the coin. This brought about the first “P” mintmark on a coin symbolizing the Philadelphia Mint. It was seen on the wartime nickels from 1942 until the resumption of regular-composition nickels in 1946.
The 1942-P Jefferson wartime nickel can be bought for less than $10 in Mint State grades.
1916-D Mercury Dime
1916-D Mercury dime.
The 1916-D Mercury dime is one of the rarest of all 20th-century coins produced for circulation. Just 264,000 pieces were minted, a first-year coin for the series.
1916-D silver dimes weren’t saved by collectors in anywhere nearly the same quantities as the 1916 Philadelphia Mercury dime. It largely went under the radar until the 1930s, when collectors began seeking entire date-and-mintmark runs of contemporary coinage.
This important rarity is scarce in all grades. In Good-4, prices for the 1916-D usually start around $850. Uncirculated specimens are rare, with examples in Mint State-60 selling for more than $12,000. Those in Mint State-65 fetch north of $25,000.
1946 Roosevelt Dime
1946 Roosevelt dime. Image: USA CoinBook
After President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in 1945 near the end of World War II, calls to memorialize the nation’s only four-term president were far and wide. Many felt it was most fitting to pay honor to “FDR” on the dime. It symbolized his call to end polio—a crippling disease he was diagnosed with in 1921. Roosevelt established the March of Dimes organization tasked with bringing an end to the illness.
The first Roosevelt dimes were struck in 1946 and can be bought for less than $5 in Choice Uncirculated grades.
1875-S 20 Cent
1875-S 20-cent coin. Image: USA CoinBook
The 20-cent coin was struck from 1875 through 1878 with a strange legal tender value of 20 cents. It represents a short but interesting chapter in Reconstruction-era United States coinage.
Many might say the so-called “double dime” was the nation’s least popular coin—at least until the Susan B. Anthony dollar came along in 1979. At any rate, the 20-cent coin is typically sought by type collectors. Only a handful of circulating issues were struck. However, the most common of these is the 1875-S. It's a far more affordable counterpart to the Philadelphia and Carson City issues that are also counted among this short-running series.
The 1875-S 20-cent coin trades for around $100 in Good-4 and $600 in Mint State-60.
1876-CC Liberty Seated Quarter
1876-CC Seated Liberty quarter. Image: USA CoinBook
Carson City coinage is both widely pursued and generally quite expensive. But there are some relatively affordable options for obtaining a “CC” coin. One of the least costly of these is found in the 1876-CC Liberty Seated quarter. It saw a mintage of 4,944,000 and remains available enough for collectors wishing to seek a specimen.
Prices generally hover around $50 for a Good-4 example but quickly ascend to $500+ for pieces in Mint State-60. Beyond offering the collector a chance to add a “CC” silver coin to their sets, this 1876-CC quarter also affords one the opportunity to represent the long-running Liberty Seated motif by Christian Gobrecht in their cabinets.
1901-S Barber Quarter
1901-S Barber quarter. Image: USA CoinBook
The Barber silver coinage that spans the late 19th and early 20th centuries may have received but tepid embrace in its day. They were often relegated to the status of junk silver coins, saved only for their silver content or face value.
However, the dimes, quarters, and half dollars sharing the (largely) common obverse have since been collectively popular. There are now entire clubs dedicated to these coins designed by Charles Barber. The Barber series boasts several notable key dates, with one of the most valuable being the 1901-S quarter. It is a coin with a mintage of just 72,664.
This key-date silver quarter goes for around $3,750 in Good-4 and in Mint State grades takes $45,000 and up. One specimen graded Mint State-68 took $550,000 in a 1990 auction. This remains one of the priciest Barber-type coins ever struck.
1917 Type I Standing Liberty Quarter
1917 Standing Liberty quarter (Type 1).
The Standing Liberty quarter is widely considered one of the most beautiful coins of the 20th century. It debuted in 1916—a year that is iconically rare for this series.
The obverse features Miss Liberty’s right breast exposed, causing some degree of controversy that led to the American goddess of Liberty to be further covered with a chain mail in late 1917. Those who wish to own an example of this coin with the original artwork by Hermon MacNeil usually turn to the 1917 Type I Standing Liberty quarter. 8,792,000 of these were made before the design change.
It can be purchased for $50 in Fine-12 and $250 in Mint State-60 grades.
1932 Washington Quarter
1932 Washington quarter.
Replacing the Standing Liberty quarter is the Washington quarter. It initially served as a commemorative to honor the 200th anniversary of the first United States president’s birth but ended up becoming a permanent series that remains in production nearly a century later.
The 1932 Washington quarter is a first-year type coin, but one that’s affordable for just about anyone who wants an example. Some 5,404,000 examples of the 1932 Washington silver quarters were struck in total.
Prices start around $10 for a Fine-12 specimen and trade for $25 or so in Mint State-60.
1807 Capped Bust Half Dollar
1807 Capped Bust half dollar (Small Stars). Image: USA CoinBook
The Capped Bust half dollar has achieved cult status in American numismatics. The coin has inspired legions of collectors to pursue sets of the coin over the course of a lifetime.
Many seek every known variety of this series, a goal that with each passing decade lends itself to increasingly larger and larger sets as more varieties are discovered.
The Capped Bust half dollar isn’t necessarily a categorically rare or expensive coin. However, there are plenty of rare and expensive dates—an alluring combination of factors that draws many to this complex early 19th-century silver type.
The first Capped Bust half dollar was struck in 1807. Specimens of this first-year type can be bought in Good-4 for around $180.
1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar
1916 Walking Liberty half dollar. Image: USA CoinBook
One of the most beautiful coins ever produced was the Walking Liberty half dollar. It was designed by Adolph A. Weinman—the same artist who created the Mercury dime. Today, the same image appears on Silver American Eagle coins, as well.
Interested in buying Silver Eagles? Visit our American Silver Eagle category page for a full listing of coins in stock!
The Walking Liberty half dollar series was struck from 1916 through 1947. It includes a pleasing variety of common, semi-key, and key dates that give collectors at all levels plenty to pursue. The first-year issue is a common target for many collectors.
Even though there are far more common and less expensive issues in the “Walker” series, the 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar makes a terrific and relatively affordable collectible at $90 in Fine-12 and $500 in Mint State-60.
1964 Kennedy Half Dollar
1964 Kennedy half dollar.
The Kennedy half dollar is undoubtedly one of the most storied coins of the late 20th century. It was issued as a tribute to President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
The Kennedy half dollar was conjured up, approved by Congress, and hit the United States Mint presses in a span of time barely longer than ten weeks. Crowds lined up at banks to buy the first examples, struck in 1964 and serving as the last 90% silver circulating half dollars.
One can buy a 1964 Kennedy half dollar in Mint State-63 for less than $15.
1799 Draped Bust Dollar
1799 Draped Bust silver dollar (Normal Date, 7x6 Stars). Image: USA CoinBook
Few United States coins struck in the 1790s are available in the general marketplace for less than $1,000, but a handful are. One of them is the 1799 Draped Bust dollar.
This is a large, heavy silver coin that also bears one of the most famous designs in American history. It's the same one seen on the 1804 Draped Bust dollar, which is also known as “The King of American Coins.”
Owning any example of this early American dollar coin is an accomplishment, and this 1799 dollar is one of the most widely available representatives of the type. An example can be bought for around $900 in Good-4.
1921 Morgan Dollar
1921 Morgan silver dollar
Rounding out this list of the best silver coins to collect is the 1921 Morgan dollar. It is a highly collectible and affordable example of the iconic Morgan dollar series. It represented the last year of the Morgan dollar and the first year of the Peace silver dollars in 1921.
Few could argue against the wholly unverifiable but easily believable claim that the Morgan dollar series is the most widely collected silver United States coin. Thousands of collectors attempt to build complete date-and-mintmark sets of Morgan dollars. Such an objective can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take decades to complete.
Many start their pursuit of Morgan dollars, which ran from 1878 through 1921, with an example from the last year of the series. This is easily the most common and least expensive of the Morgan dollars across the board.
A 1921 Morgan dollar can be bought for approximately $45 in Extremely Fine-40 and around $60 in Mint State-60.
Modern Silver Bullion Coins
We would be remiss if we didn't briefly mention the plethora of .999 fine silver coins that collectors and investors can also pursue. Each of the following coins (besides the Chinese Panda) come in sizes of one troy ounce (oz) of pure silver. They are priced at a small premium over the spot price of silver.
- American Silver Eagle
- Canadian Silver Maple Leaf
- Mexican Silver Libertad
- Chinese Silver Panda
- Austrian Silver Philharmonic
- British Silver Britannia
- South African Silver Krugerrand
- Perth Mint (Australia) Silver Kangaroo
These are each the official silver bullion coins of their respective issuing countries. This also makes them some of the most recognizable silver coins anywhere in the world. The Silver Canadian Maple Leaf coin stands out for its .9999 fine composition.
Buying silver coins is a great way to grow an investment portfolio in 2021 and beyond. Investors may also consider silver rounds and silver bars for their precious metals IRA.
More coin collecting articles from the expert authors at Gainesville Coins:
Latest Offers, Straight To Your Inbox
Don't be the last to know about the latest deals and new product arrivals. Join us today for FREE!