The silver coins of the United States now current are dollars, half - dollars, quarters, and dimes. Silver dollars were first coined in 1794 under the Act of 1792, and weighed 416 grains .089 fine, or 371.25 grains pure; in 1837 the fineness was made .9 and the weight reduced to 41 2 1/2 grains, but keeping the pure silver content at 37 1 1/4. The coinage of silver dollars was discontinued in 1873, resumed in 1878, discontinued in 1904, and again resumed in 1921.
The subsidiary silver coins (halves, quarters, dimes, and half-dimes) date from 1794 and contained their respective proportions of the silver dollar. In 1853 their weights were reduced from 41 2 1/2 grains to 384 grains for two halves, or four quarters, or ten dimes. All silver dollars, halves, quarters, and dimes are put up by the mint in bags containing $1,000 each, a bag of the dollar coins weighing 71.61 and of the fractional coins 66.98 pounds Troy.
The commercial value of silver rose very much during the war, due, among other things, to the relative cessation of production in Mexico and elsewhere, its greater monetary use as a substitute for gold coinage in belligerent countries, shipment to India to settle trade balances, and special uses for war purposes; hence the silver content in the silver dollar rose in value and the government's seigniorage correspondingly decreased. The reverse effects occurred during 1920 and 1921 as the price of silver fell again to its former level.