Silver U.S. and Foreign Coins Were Exempt From the Order.
Nearly 123 million ounces of silver were turned into the U.S. Mint from 1934-1938
The U.S. Needed Silver To Mint Coins
How Did The Government Know Who Had Silver Bullion?
Executive Order 6814 is not a fictional future act of government, like the passing of the 211th, 212th and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, but an actual Presidential Order by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934 confiscating silver in the United States.
The order dated August 9, 1934, was entitled Executive Order 6814 Requiring the Delivery of All Silver to the United States for Coinage and required all persons to deliver silver to the U.S government pursuant to the Silver Purchase Act of 1934, subject to certain exemptions.
Following are frequently asked questions about Silver Confiscation Under Executive Order 6814:
What Silver Had To Be Turned In?
Silver “situated in the United States”;
Silver of a fineness of 80% or more; and
Silver held in quantities over 500 troy ounces by any one person.
What Silver Was Exempt?
U.S. silver coins (of which U.S. dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollar coins were 90% silver at the time) and foreign silver coins;
Silver that was of a fineness less than 80%;
Unprocessed silver (less than 80% fineness) that was mined in the United States after December 21, 1933;
Silver contained in articles fabricated and held in good faith for a specific and customary use and not for their value as silver bullion (presumably silver ornaments, jewelry and/or silverware); and
Silver held for industrial, professional, or artistic use in amounts less than 500 troy ounces per person.
N.B. There was no “investment” exemption. Holding silver bullion of 80% of higher fineness in bar or round form in any amounts that was not for “industrial, professional, or artistic use” was required to be turned in.
How Much Did People Get For Their Silver?
People turning in their silver got $1.29 an ounce. Payment was made in the form of “standard silver dollars, silver certificates, or any other coin or currency of the United States.” There was a catch however; there was fee of 61 8/25 percent (61.32%) taken from the $1.29 an ounce for “seigniorage, brassage, coinage, and other mint charges.” After the fee, it worked out to a payment of about fifty cents an ounce, which was about five cents higher per ounce than before Executive Order 6814. Thus, the $.50 price was a non market, nationalized price.
How Much Silver Was Confiscated?
Nearly 113 million ounces.
112,937,925 ounces of silver were “nationalized” pursuant to Executive Order 6814.
1935: 112,301,335 ounces
1936: 650,452 ounces
1937: 68,777 ounces
1938: 17,361 ounces
Silver Acquired Pursuant to The Silver Purchase Act of 1934
An additional 1.353 billion ounces of silver were purchased under the Silver Purchase Act of 1934.
Source: Silver Money (Cowles Commission for Research in Economics Monographs, No. 4)
What Did The Government Do With The Silver?
The U.S. government presumably needed the silver to mint coins or to “print money”. In 1918 pursuant to the Pittman Act, the U.S. melted down over a quarter of a billion (270 million) U.S. Silver dollars and converted them into silver bullion and sold it to England who needed the silver to alleviate a silver coin shortage in India which was a colony of England’s at the time.
Under the Pittman Act, the amounts of silver sold to England would have to be replaced by minting new silver dollars. In 1921 the replacement process began as the U.S. Mint recommenced minting Morgan Silver Dollars which hadn’t been minted since 1904. Also in 1921, the U.S. Mint began producing Peace Dollars.
The Pittman Act of 1918 was sponsored by Key Denson Pittman, a Senator from Nevada, a state with a large silver mining industry, such that its nickname is the “Silver State”. Senator Pittman was a fierce advocate for the silver industry. The Pittman Act provided that all that silver that was melted down and sold to England would have to be replaced. Most of it would come from Pittman’s home state of Nevada’s mines AND at a subsidized price of $1 an ounce!
The Silver Purchase Act of 1934 was also sponsored by Senator Pittman.