What’s a Morgan silver dollar worth?

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Morgan silver dollar value

There are two keys to Morgan silver dollar value:

a) the inherent value of the metals – Morgans are 90% silver and 10% copper by weight. This means each has a meltdown worth based on the spot price of silver and copper on the day they are sold.

b) the coin values and prices fetched by the market of collectors and buyers of the coins – according to factors like their year of strike, their patina, their sharpness, their collectability, their rarity and many other “numismatic” traits which collectors seek.

We will take a quick look at these, and other factors, to give an overview of Morgan silver dollar values – and an idea of what accounts for the differences in worth.

The first, and obvious thing to mention is that they are not making any more!

From a collecting point of view, this is THE key take away. The market will never be diluted by more Morgan silver dollars. A clear, but often overlooked, element to consider. Simple supply and demand is at play here.

Of course, the worth of the silver and copper, they are made from, fluctuates according to market demand for the metals – but unless the melt value of a Morgan dollar exceeds what can be made on them as a collector’s piece, in their own right, it would not be viable to sell as “metal” alone.

A good analogy here is that of a car – the scrap metal value is far less than it is worth as an assembled vehicle. It has a utility worth as transport – the Morgan dollars have utility as currency – even though they are no longer used as such.

This brings us on to what creates the value of an obsolete coin which is no longer used for it’s original purpose.

On the face of it, Morgans should have disappeared into obscurity. But this is the second key takeaway. They have a value of their own, a value created by the interest and allure of history, and the desire to own something rare and unique.

Buddy, can you spare a Morgan silver dollar?

The collectability of this product of the United States Mint comes from the story of its production. The US Mint struck the original coins at their Philadelphia Mint – but they extended production to four other mints in San Francisco, Carson City, New Orleans, and Denver. The mints never struck the same quantity of coins, and it is well known that the Carson City mint was the least productive.

It follows that the Morgan series struck in Carson City are the rarest and most difficult to find. This means that these are generally more valuable than, say, a Morgan struck in the same year at San Francisco or Philidelphia.

Equally, the US Mint only struck the silver Morgan at the Denver mint for one year – 1921.  This makes the 1921 Morgan with a Denver mint mark exceptionally rare too.

But it’s never that simple …

The condition of each coin is another factor in determining its worth.

The Morgan silver dollar was a popular coin – produced for 27 years. People used them as everyday money back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This means that the ones “in circulation,” and used on a daily basis for transactions, often became worn and damaged. These are less valuable as collector’s pieces than a coin kept aside and never used – “uncirculated” in numismatic language.

Behind every good deal is someone’s ignorance.

Valuing such a disparate selection of factors was a problem in coin collecting circles for many years, until a method was found to overcome the differences in condition, origin, and faults.

Determining the true value of any Morgan silver dollar was made much easier with a scale of definitions agreed by coin grading services using Sheldon’s numeric values and other descriptions to help define parameters. Even so, grading Morgans is not an exact science.

The grades run from “About Good – 3” or “AG3” – where the coin is barely legible and heavily worn – right up to “Mint State – 67” or “MS67” – where the coin has a complete “original mint luster” with “eye appeal” and very few marks – and no traces of wear.

In between, there are, “Good – 4,” or “G4,” ” Very Good – 8,” or “VG8,” “Fine – 12,” or “F12,” “Very Fine – 20,” or “F20,” “Extra Fine – 40,” or “EF40,” “About Uncirculated – 55,” or “AU55,” “Mint State – 63,” or “MS63,” and MINT State – 65,” or “MS65.”

This numerical system of grading coins is extremely complicated and involved. It takes many years of experience and practice to be able to accurately grade such coins. It is in this grading that bargains can be found in undervalued coins and potential losses avoided in overvalued ones.

There is an excellent explanation of the way in which Morgan silver dollars are graded at, “The Spruce Crafts” website. They also have a list of recommended books, references, and grading resources.

Charles Thorngren

Charles Thorngren

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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.

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