This is part 1 of a 3 part article on the US Silver Dollar Eagle. The US Silver Dollar Eagle is perhaps one of the most collected coins by coin collectors around the world.
Some history of the use of silver shows that silver has been used as currency for many hundreds of years. The first currency of the modern Greek state was called the Phoenix. It was originally issued in 1828 in the form of a silver coin equal in value to the French Franc. Its official denomination was the lepton and 1 phoenix = 100 lepta at the time.
The name taken was that of the mythical Phoenix bird, and was meant to symbolize the rebirth of Greece. The myth of this bird derives from ancient Egyptian mythology. The Phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird said to live for either 500 or 1461 years. The male bird with beautiful gold and red plumage builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs at the end of its life and then ignites it. Both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes and from the ashes a new, young phoenix would arise. Stories and the agreed upon life span may vary but the symbology of resurrection and immortality have prevailed throughout history and is reflected here with the Phoenix Dollar.
In Germany in the late 15th century one finds silver coins being used called the 'Talers'. This word has been translated from the German into many other languages including English resulting in the words daler, daaler and eventually dollar. So the word dollar is not unique to the US.
Silver was also used by James VI of Scotland who struck a 30-shilling coin between 1567 and 1571 generally called the Sword Dollar due to his depiction on the obverse holding a sword.
Charles II of England (1660-1685) struck the Double Merk of 1578 and this was called the Thistle Dollar and Spain of course has issued crown size silver coins in the denomination of 8 reales.
Many of these early examples of silver coins can still be found in museums, private collections and, who knows, perhaps many more may be found on future treasure hunts down the track. For those interested , there is a fascinating history of silver being struck as coins and used down the years and links to these is provided in the Links & References section.
So the silver dollar was a natural denomination to be adopted by the fledgling United States.
End of US Silver Dollar Eagle - Part 1