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How Silver Dollars Are Graded.

All silver coins, including silver dollars, vary widely in price depending on a number of factors, notably scarcity, desirability, and condition. But how is condition established? You may think a coin looks pretty good, while the dealer you’re trying to sell it to may think it looks pretty bad. So in order to reach a fair price for both buyer and seller, it’s important for both parties to agree on condition.
In order to establish a standard reference, in the 1950s, psychologist and coin collector William H. Sheldon came up with the scale that’s widely used today. It rates coins from 1 to 70, based on the quality of the coin when it was first struck, the integrity of the metal, and the wear and damage that’s occurred since the coin was first minted.

An uncirculated silver dollar


Perhaps you’ve looked at coins online or in coin shops, and seen the designation AU-58 or MS-65. If you weren’t clear about what that meant, this will help clarify. And having a decent grasp of silver coin grading will keep you from overpaying for your coins.

First of all, silver bullion coins are divided into three groups – circulated, almost uncirculated, and uncirculated. Coins in the first group can be Poor (P1), Fair (FR-2), Good (G-4), Very Good (VG-8), Fine (F-12), Very Fine (VF-20), and Extremely Fine (EF-40).  

There’s little dispute about coins in the Poor to Extremely Fine group. These coins were used as currency, and changed hands – sometimes often. To grade one yourself, get the same coin in mint condition if you can. That way, you’ll have something to compare it to.  

You’ll also need a magnifying glass that magnifies up to eight times, and a good source of light. Examine the coin carefully to see if there are any signs of wear. If there’s no visible wear whatsoever, you can classify your coin as uncirculated. If there are some signs of wear – and even coins that have never been in circulation can be damaged by coin counters or mishandling – then it needs to go into one of the other groups.

Poor coins are just that. Fair coins have a lot of wear. You may not be able to read the date, mint mark, or other inscriptions. Even coins in fair condition can be worth collecting, depending on the other factors. Good coins (4-8) will range from some wearing of the date to an unbroken ridge around the edge of the coin.

Silver Eagle coins hold their value in the silver market and can demand a nice premium well above silver value if you ever want or need to sell your Silver Eagles.

The Morgan Silver Dollar
Most of the design is visible in Fine coins. There may be a little wear evident in finer details such as hair or feathers, but overall, the coin is in good shape. Extremely Fine coins have hardly any visible wear, although they won’t have quite the luster of a AU coin.

A Morgan Silver dollar that’s been in circulation Morgans in the Almost Uncirculated group can range from AU50 to AU 58, and it’s very difficult for beginners to tell the difference. There will only be a slight amount of wear on the highest spots of the coin. And curiously, top-grade AU coins often look better than lower-grade MS or Mint State coins.  


Uncirculated coins – from MS60 – MS-70 – have no visible wear. But even a coin that appears to be perfect to an untrained eye probably won’t be an MS-70. Those are extremely rare, even though they have never been circulated.  

It’s relatively easy to establish the grade of a silver dollar that you’re trying to sell. Just visit a couple of dealers. If you’re buying, you’ll need to be more cautious. If you buy Almost Uncirculated or Good-quality coins, you’ll have an easier time of it. How to detect Counterfeit Morgan Dollars.

Australian Silver Dollars

Australia issues several silver dollars that are of interest to both collectors and investors. The popular Australian Koala and Kookaburra silver bullion coins are issued by the Perth Mint in Western Australia. But the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) in Sydney also issues beautiful, investment-quality coins.
When the RAM first opened in Sydney on February 22, 1965, it was the first mint in Australia that was not a branch of the London Royal Mint. The Duke of Edinburgh officiated at the ceremony and the RAM began the process of creating Australia’s decimal coinage.
Forty five years later, the RAM has produced more than 11 billion coins. In addition to issuing Australian coins and silver dollars, the RAM also mints coins for other South Pacific nations, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Malaysia.


In 1993, the RAM introduced the first Australian Silver Kangaroo. This silver dollar has been produced every year since then. It has a purity of .999 and weighs one ounce. An image of Queen Elizabeth II appears each year on the obverse. And a different image of a kangaroo – the national symbol of Australia – appears on the reverse.

Together with American Silver Eagle coins, Canadian Maple Leafs, and the St. George Sovereign from the London Mint, the Australian Kangaroo has become one of the most collectible silver bullion coins in the world, valued as much for its artistry as its investment potential.

Because the mintages were limited in quantity, some of the older issues have shown strong appreciation in value. The 1998 and 2007 silver bullion coins are especially collectible. In 1998, 7,645 proof coins — the first in the series — were produced, and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth was changed to the Ian Rank-Broadley design. Proof coins have been available since then and coins with some gold plating were introduced in 2002.

For 2010, the design features a Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby designed by W Pietranik. It is shown on a rocky ridge, typical of its New South Wales habitat. Listed as Vulnerable in the 1999 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby is something of a success story in Australia, having bounced back in number.

There will be just 20,000 proof coins produced. The mintage on the frosted, uncalculated coin is unlimited.

Collectors and investors should strongly consider adding Australian Kangaroos to their holdings. Because the quantities are so limited, they are more likely to appreciate than coins with mintages in the millions. And because their silver content is slightly greater than that of American Silver Eagles, they are often the first choice of collectors.

Learn more about the Kookaburra bullion coin here.



Older Morgan Silver Dollars


American Silver Eagles


Australian Silver Dollars

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