What is a 1879 Morgan silver dollar worth?

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Back in 1879 United States was still a relatively young country.

It was only in January of that year the constitution of California was ratified – milk sold in glass bottles for the first time – and Thomas Edison showed his brand-new invention – the lightbulb – to Americans, in New York.

In the world of coins, it was the year after the initial release of the Morgan silver dollar.

Production was being ramped up, and it was initially thought that six mints would produce the coins – but, in the end, it was just four:

  • Carson City
  • New Orleans
  • Philadelphia
  • San Francisco

Of these four mints the Carson City Morgan silver dollars are the most valuable. They carry the mint mark “CC.”

A Carson City coin always fetches a premium because of the low production rate at this mint – obviously, the less coins there are, the more valuable they will be. There were only 756,000 Morgan silver dollars minted in Carson City in 1879. By contrast, Philadelphia minted over 15 million of these same coins.

For this reason, 1879 Morgan dollars vary hugely in their price. In mint state they can be worth many thousands of dollars – mostly though these silver coins, after coin grading, are usually of a type and value which really makes them suitable for just their silver price.

Sometimes an extremely rare example of such a coin will go on to make auction history – but as always it depends on the grade and condition and the prices that people are prepared to pay at the time.

What a liberty

Back in 1964 the US government decided to stop the system of exchanging silver certificates for silver coins dated between1878 and 1935. This was because the stocks of coins were running short.

The coinage which was left in the vaults was transferred to West Point silver bullion depository in New York for safekeeping.

In 1970 the government tasked the General Services Administration with assembling, and distributing for sale, the stash of coins held back in the vaults.

Of course, this was pre-Internet, so the sale was done by postal bids. The profits would go back into the Treasury.

The GSA devised a system of guidelines for the bids and set maximum prices – and with the help of some numismatic experts, pulled together over a million coins, which they categorised as either circulated or uncirculated depending on their condition.

Each Carson City coin, for example, regardless of the date, was sold in a presentation box with a summary history of the coin and its provenance.

The GSA held seven sales – these netted over $100 million – and had an effect, which is felt to this day, on the number and values of Carson City coin releases.

A quick buck

The February 1974 sale – the fourth – had the most impact on Carson City coins.

3,609, “CC” coins were authorised for sale, and they considered these the rarest of the horde – all from 1879. All sold in record time.

Some of the initial mint state coins had a problem with their strike and luster. When looking for good examples of this year’s coins, make sure that the strike is good and clear. Some coins have flat breast feathers on the eagle rather than the convex breast and the slanting top arrow feather which they should have.

The importance of eye appeal and strike cannot be overstated with this particular coin and year. A little care will pay dividends when it comes to selling on your coins.

Without a doubt the 1879 Morgan silver dollar is a coin worth collecting. Part of the fun is having a coin from each of the mints at which it was struck.

How much is a 1879 silver dollar worth? How much have you got?

The 1879 silver dollar value depends so much on both the mint it was struck at – and the condition – that it is difficult to give a finite price for an 1879 silver Morgan dollar.

As a rough ballpark figure, you can pay anywhere between $15 and $47,000 for one. From this you can see it is an ideal starting coin for collectors – as well as one for serious numismatic enthusiasts.

Charles Thorngren

Charles Thorngren

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About Me

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.

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