Foreword

By Kenneth E. Bressett

There is probably no other United States coin that has been as thoroughly studied, as avidly collected or as well known to numismatists and the public alike, as the silver dollar. The mighty American dollar has been given a place in history so greatly revered that in many cases popular stories far exceed its factual record. The dollar is seen as a symbol of the strength and financial power of this nation, and an icon of all that it represents.  Unfortunately, many of the concepts we have about these coins are not entirely accurate.

In this book author Q. David Bowers now takes us beyond the myths and fantasy for an objective look at the nature of the American silver dollar, and its authentic place in history. The story is one that covers the history of our nation, the role of the dollar, and many interesting background stories about people who were involved with producing these coins. In addition to the masterful work done by Mr. Bowers in this compilation, he was assisted by scores of others who helped with research and suggestions. The most prominent of these are R.W. Julian who contributed historical information, and Walter Breen who provided numismatic facts and research.

The full list of contributors reads like a Who's Who of numismatics. No source of information has been overlooked to make this the most factual reference ever produced on the subject of United States silver dollars. In the pages to follow are details about every issue for each date and mint. Varieties are shown with clear illustrations, and everything is arranged in chronological order for easy, instant access to every listing. Pricing history is given for all coins, at 5-year intervals from 1860 to the present.

Collectors will welcome this work as the single definitive source of information about America's largest silver coin. Of particular importance is the style in which this book is written, with all known facts and theories presented for students to ponder in cases where no concrete answers are known about certain problem coins. Information not presented in this book is simply not known at this time. What is given is not just "everything you ever wanted to know about the subject," but probably much more than most collectors ever thought existed.

Those who invest in coins will find this work an absolute necessity. It not only gives a detailed price history for all of these coins for the past 130 years, but includes detailed estimates of how many coins may still exist in all grades. The scarce Proof coins are given special attention because of their high value and position of esteem by both collectors and investors. In these listings are surprises and revelations never before imagined by most students of the series. Regardless of one's involvement or reason for owning any of these coins, this is one part of the text that will add greatly to understanding of rarity and appreciation of these coins.

Historians, too, will cherish this book. Included with the discussion of dollars for each date, is a section that deals with the happenings of that time. Here you will find little known or remembered facts about what was going on throughout the country at the time these coins were made. For me, this is the most fascinating part of the book. It makes the coins come to life when they are placed in a setting with the events that were going on around them at the time of issue. Likewise, I can now relive the history whenever I see a coin of some particular date that triggers my memory of what was happening that year, or what dollars were being made at that time.

Dollars were the first silver coins to be made at the Mint in 1794. They have a long history of being issued in nearly every year thereafter, even though they were not needed or even wanted in many periods. It seems likely that the dollar coin will be continued, in some form, well into the future. It truly is the symbol of our nation, and a coin that is the sine qua non of every American collection. With this book in hand, students, collectors and investors are at last armed with factual information that can be used to good advantage to better understand and appreciate these coins for what they really are ... and to enjoy owning them to the fullest.

The only question left unanswered by this book is "how did anyone ever successfully collect these coins without such a guide?" This is not a work that one can pick up and put down after finding select answers to the question. There is just too much entertaining information to be had on every topic. Plan to spend several enjoyable evenings with this text to acquaint yourself with its scope. Then use it frequently to expand your knowledge of how silver dollars fit in with the history of America. You will never again look at another one of these coins without seeing it in a new light.


Kenneth Bressett
May 1,1993