The Greatest Silver Dollar Hoard in History
The most important hoard of Silver Dollar coins was not the LaVere Redfield Hoard, which held approximately 600,000 Silver Dollars in Nevada. Nor was it the Continental-Illinois National Bank hoard of more than 1.5 million Silver Dollars in Chicago. Neither of these hoards comes remotely close.
The Bland-Allison Act of 1878, which required the U.S. Treasury to purchase between 2 and 4 million ounces of Silver each month, was the culprit as to why Silver Dollars were minted in the first place. This Silver languished in the Treasury vaults as the Philadelphia Mint and the branch mints struck Silver Dollar coins faster than the public wanted them.
In 1918, the Pittman Act was authorized by Congress to replenish the Treasury’s Silver bullion reserves by melting 270 million Morgan Silver Dollars. The Pittman Act also required the government to purchase more Silver to replace the Silver Dollars that were melted, so after a 16-year hiatus, Morgan Silver Dollars were minted in 1921 and later replaced by the Peace Dollar, the coin that honored the end of World War I.
Even through the melting of these Silver Dollars, one hoard was considerably larger than all of the others combined.
The greatest Silver hoard in U.S. history was stored in Washington, D.C., at the U. S. Treasury. Inside the massive vaults of the U.S. Treasury were 200,000 bags of Silver Dollars and each bag contained 1,000 coins! This meant 200 million Silver Dollars were never distributed by the Treasury and sat for decades in the Treasury vaults.
An additional 300,000 million Silver Dollars were held in banks across the United States. The American public was content with easy-to-fold paper currency; they didn’t want these big, bulky Silver coins in their purses and pockets.
During the 1930s and into the 1950s, the price of Silver remained stable so demand for the Silver Dollars in the U. S. Treasury was slim. Remember, the Treasury was redeeming their Silver Certificates for U.S. Silver Dollars. Each Silver Dollar contains a little over 3/4 of an ounce of pure Silver. But as the price of Silver rose, the demand from dealers and collectors increased as well.
Dealers and coin collectors from across the country came to Washington to buy Silver Dollars at face value from the Treasury. Some lucky dealers and collectors received rare dates or in uncirculated condition, while some got coins that were only valued for their Silver content. Many members of the public bought every coin they could afford in hopes of “striking it rich” by getting coins that were more valuable than their Silver content. Indeed, some members of the public did receive coins worth hundreds of dollars and their stories were widely repeated.
From 1958 to 1963, nearly 90 million Silver Dollars were purchased from the Treasury. By March 1964, nearly 26 million Silver Dollars were removed from the U.S. Treasury’s vaults!
On March 26, 1964, the Treasurer of the United States put an end to the long lines and hopeful prospects. Collectors, who were now aware of the nearly 3 million Carson City coins still unsold by the Treasury, demanded they also be sold. But they would have to wait eight years for the first GSA auctions of Carson City Silver Dollars to begin. By the end of the decade, this was all a memory as no Silver Dollars remained in the hands of the government.