Chapter 1: About Silver Dollars Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1

About Silver Dollars

GETTING ACQUAINTED

By Q. David Bowers

 

Writing this Book

This book had its inception in the 1960s when I started keeping notes on many of the silver dollars that went through my hands. A serious start was made on the manuscript in the early 1980s, when my then secretary, Margaret Graf, coordinated many of my notes and ideas. Then, several other book projects intervened, especially the creation of The American Numismatic Association Centennial History, which, when all was said and done, amounted to 1,766 pages in two volumes and saw the light of day in the summer of 1991.
 
In the meantime, I had commissioned two of America's most accomplished numismatists, R.W. Julian and Walter H. Breen, to supply certain information for my forthcoming book on silver dollars. Bob Julian created a truly great historical overview of the series, and Walter H. Breen provided technical notes on die varieties which had come to his attention (many of which had been described in his Encyclopedia of u.s. and Colonial Proof Coins and his somewhat similarly titled Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of u.s. and Colonial Coins). In addition, in 1991 and 1992, Breen supplied much other data in correspondence and went over the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb.

Utilizing the efforts of other numismatists past and present, and using much information from the vast fund of publications to follow and in the Bibliography, I have endeavored to create a single volume which on a coin-by-coin basis will aid the serious collector and historian to learn a great deal about any issue in the series, whether it be a common 1881-S Morgan dollar, a scarce 1859-S Liberty Seated dollar, a very rare 1922 High Relief Peace dollar, or even the silver dollar which has achieved the ultimate in rarity (none is known to survive) the 1873-S Liberty Seated dollar.

I have had a great deal of enjoyment creating this book, a catalogue raisonne of the silver dollar and trade dollar denominations. I hope some of that pleasure is transmitted to you as you skim the following pages, perhaps pausing to read in detail the areas that interest you the most.

Sources of Information

When Dr. William H. Sheldon wrote Early American Cents (published in 1949), he did so because he had always wanted to read such a text, but none was available. Taking the matter into his own hands, he created an orderly delineation of one cent pieces from 1793 through 1814.

Similarly, in the course of cataloguing major collections, handling rarities, and in the daily business of professional numismatics I have always wanted a single reference on United States silver dollars (and trade dollars) to which I could turn for the answer to this question or that. To be sure, there are many excellent texts on the denomination, and the works of Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis, Wayne Miller, and the compendium of articles coordinated by John Highfill each deserve a place on the bookshelf of every serious collector. Similarly, it would be difficult to imagine a serious numismatist who did not consult Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins on a frequent basis. And, for early issues, one cannot forget Milferd H. Bolender's The United States Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803. John Willem's book on trade dollars is likewise important.

Before going on to other books, let me say a few words about the third edition of the Van Allen Mallis book, Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars, one of the finest numismatic references in any specialized field. I heartily recommend it as a key item in your numismatic library as a valuable source of information on die engraving, assaying, and minting techniques in addition to its main thrust, which is an in-depth detailing of every minute die variety of Morgan dollar known to exist, plus an excellent discussion of Peace dollars.

When Dr. William H. Sheldon wrote Early American Cents (published in 1949), he did so because he had always wanted to read such a text, but none was available. Taking the matter into his own hands, he created an orderly delineation of one cent pieces from 1793 through 1814.

Similarly, in the course of cataloguing major collections, handling rarities, and in the daily business of professional numismatics I have always wanted a single reference on United States silver dollars (and trade dollars) to which I could turn for the answer to this question or that. To be sure, there are many excellent texts on the denomination, and the works of Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis, Wayne Miller, and the compendium of articles coordinated by John Highfill each deserve a place on the bookshelf of every serious collector. Similarly, it would be difficult to imagine a serious numismatist who did not consult Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins on a frequent basis. And, for early issues, one cannot forget Milferd H. Bolender's The United States Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803. John Willem's book on trade dollars is likewise important.

Chapter 1: About Silver Dollars Table of Contents