Paul asks: Concerning US silver coinages of 1851 & 1852 – Why are fractional silver denominations so much more common than silver dollars of these dates?
Few silver dollars were made in 1851 (1,300) and 1852 (1,100). The reason centers on the fact that the rising silver prices made the dollar’s silver content equal or exceed the face value of the coin. This was true by early 1853 and was addressed by the Mint Act in February of that year. Secondarily, the coin was not popular as a circulating medium, it was big and heavy and worth too much to be practical in small transactions. Though the coin had been issued from 1840, most were used in the export trade and not as regular currency.