The Morgan Silver Dollar 1882-1885 – looking good for your money
By 1882 – just three years after its initial release – the Morgan silver dollar had established itself as the “go to” silver dollar coin In the United States.
It was so popular that in 1882 over 27 million of them were minted by the four US Mints which had been established to produce them.
Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, and San Francisco were the four mints chosen. Philadelphia was the main producer – between 1882 and 1885 it struck 55,247,000 Morgan dollars.
By comparison, Carson City produced just 3,711,000 – and in 1885 struck just 238,000 silver dollars, against Philadelphia’s 17,787,000.
We show here the complete breakdown of the figures for these years:
Mint marks: Blank – Philadelphia CC – Carson City O – New Orleans S – San Francisco
Right hand column represents the number of coins struck at that mint in that year
How long ago?
To put this period of America’s history into some perspective helps to qualify why a dollar was an ideal amount for such a coin and why the design suited the times in which it was introduced.
In the biggest natural disaster to strike the world, Krakatoa, a volcano in Java erupted killing over 36,000 people. In science, Thomas Edison set up his electricity company and pioneered electric street lighting in New York. In Poland – the submarine was invented, and fifty made for the Russian Navy. John Montgomery made attempts at early flight in California while the French launched “La France” – an airship. Karl Benz (of Mercedes-Benz fame) invented the first motor vehicle powered by an engine. Workers from all over the world lay 73,000miles of railroad track across the United States.
Like its currency, the US was a very young country. It’s development, industrialization and its infrastructure were being built rapidly.
This activity demanded a set of currency that dealt with both high values for capital goods – and lower denominations for day-to-day transactions.
The logical answer was to use gold for the higher values and silver for the lower ones. A dollar in the early 1880s would be worth around $25 today – so a silver dollar as the main coin made a lot of sense – not too much – not too little – it was pitched just about right.
The design for the 1882-1885 coins was identical to that of the original by George T. Morgan in 1878.
The obverse featured the head of Liberty facing left, hair in a Phrygian cap, and LIBERTY inscribed on a ribbon or band holding a spray of leaves and sheaves. E PLURIBUS UNUM is above, seven stars are to the left, six stars are to the right, and the year is below. Denticles surround the edge. The edge is reeded.
The reverse has an eagle with wings spread holding a branch and three arrows. IN GOD WE TRUST appears in Old English letters above. Surrounding is the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DOLLAR. As with the obverse, denticles surround it at the edge. The edge is reeded.
Each coin is 1½ inches in diameter (38.1mm) and weighs 0.7734 try ounces. This weight is 90% silver and 10% copper to toughen the coin and make it less open to wear and tear in everyday use.
What’s it worth then?
The relative rarity and condition of the kind will determine the value that it will fetch on the numismatic market. Obviously, coins from the Carson City mint will fetch more because of their relative scarcity. If they also have mint condition, are struck well, and have luster and no obvious scratches or wear – they will command a higher price than an identical coin which is in a lesser condition.
Mint state coins – especially Morgan silver dollars – are highly sought after. The sale price of a rare coin which is verified with the PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) as being of a high-grade Ccn reach many thousands of dollars at the right auction.
Most Valuable Morgan Silver Dollars
Here is a current list of the top 10 most valuable Morgan Silver Dollars from general circulation (updated: 2019). These do not reference error coins, just the standard issued Morgan Silver Dollars. The value/worth is based off the coin in great condition.
Here is a current list of the 10 most valuable Morgan silver dollars out there:
- 1901 Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $425,000
- 1893 S Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $300,000
- 1889 CC Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $280,000
- 1884 S Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $215,000
- 1893 O Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $150,000
- 1886 O Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $140,000
- 1892 S Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $130,000
- 1895 O Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $120,000
- 1896 O Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $100,000
10.) 1895 Morgan Silver Dollar – Worth $70,000
You can see that two of these coins are from the period we have covered in this article – they are out there …
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The Morgan Silver Dollar is an essential part of American History. The first was released in 1878 and became an immediate success. We have sourced 3 different versions of this iconic coin. These will be an investment as well as a family heirloom for generations to come.
Morgan Silver Dollar
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