How to tell if 1889 silver dollar is CC? The 1889 Morgan silver dollar is one of the more common dates of this classic American coin design. However, a small number of 1889 dollars were struck at the Carson City Mint, which today is highly prized by collectors and commands big premiums due to their scarcity and the allure of the famous CC mint mark.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer to your question: Examine the reverse of your 1889 Morgan dollar below the eagle’s tail feathers for a small CC mint mark. If this mint mark is present, you have a rare Carson City issue worth at least $500 in typical well-worn ‘Good’ condition and up to $25,000 or more if your coin grades Mint State-65.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about identifying Carson City 1889 Morgan dollars, including mintage figures, current market values in all grades, where to look for the CC mint mark, authentication tips from professional coin graders, and the history behind these fascinating Wild West era coins.

Low Mintage Equals Big Value for 1889-CC Morgans

Total 1889 Morgan Dollar Production

The 1889 Morgan silver dollar had a moderately low mintage compared to other years in the series. The Philadelphia Mint struck a total of 21,561,790 Morgan dollars in 1889. The New Orleans Mint added another 2,309,041 pieces.

However, the tiny Carson City Mint in Nevada managed to produce only 350,000 coins that year.

Tiny Fraction Was Struck at Carson City

The 350,000 pieces struck at the Carson City Mint represented just 1.6% of the total 1889 Morgan dollar mintage. With the “CC” mintmark denoting the Carson City origin, these coins trade today at a significant premium over their Philadelphia and New Orleans counterparts.

Collectors highly prize Carson City Morgan dollars due to their lower mintages. The Nevada Mint only operated from 1870 to 1893, with limited coin production. Today, third-party grading services have certified about 5,500 surviving 1889-CC Morgan dollars in all grades.

Survival Rates and Current Market Values

Most collector-grade 1889-CC dollars grade VF or EF, indicating moderate but not excessive wear. In the higher Mint State grades, survival rates drop off quickly. PCGS estimates there are only 175 MS60 examples, 75 MS63 coins, and around 25 MS65 specimens.

With so few high-grade survivors, nicely preserved 1889-CC Morgans bring steep premiums. An MS60 piece might sell for around $4,000. In MS63 values jump to $14,000. At the MS65 level, a top-pop 1889-CC Morgan could auction for over $100,000.

Collectors place special value on both the low mintage and the western frontier origins of the rare 1889-CC silver dollars. Anyone lucky enough to own one of these Carson City rarities can consider it a prized possession and solid long-term investment.

How to Check for the All-Important Carson City CC Mint Mark

Look Below the Eagle’s Tail Feathers on the Reverse

The key to identifying a rare 1889-CC Morgan silver dollar is looking for the CC mint mark on the reverse of the coin below the eagle’s tail feathers. This indicates the coin was struck at the Carson City Mint in Nevada, which only operated from 1870-1893.

Only 350,000 1889-CC silver dollars were minted before the Carson City Mint closed, making coins from this mint rare and valuable for collectors. An 1889-CC in good condition can be worth over $1,000.

Use a Magnifying Glass If the Mark is Worn

Since Morgan dollars are large coins originally meant for commerce, they can become quite worn from extensive handling. The all-important CC mint mark can become faint and difficult to discern.

Collectors should use a magnifying glass to inspect this area of the coin closely. Look for any faint traces of the CC below the eagle’s tail. Even a partially visible CC is enough to indicate a rare Carson City Mint coin.

Compare to Images of Genuine 1889-CC Dollars

There are many counterfeit replicas of rare Carson City coins on the market. After checking for a CC mark, collectors should compare the coin closely to images of genuine 1889-CC dollars.

Resources like the NGC Coin Explorer provide images and details on authentic Carson City Mint coins. Study the eagle, lettering, and devices to help spot potential counterfeits.

With close examination and comparison to bona fide specimens, collectors can accurately identify if they possess this scarce and popular 1889 Carson City Morgan silver dollar.

Authenticating Your Coin’s Carson City Pedigree

Weight and Dimensions Should Match Genuine Morgans

An authentic 1889-CC Morgan silver dollar should weigh 26.73 grams and measure 38.1 mm in diameter. Use a jeweler’s scale and caliper to check these dimensions on your coin. Matching weight and measurements provide a good first indication you have a genuine specimen.

Check that details like the coin’s rim, surface, and reeding are consistent with verified 1889-CC Morgans. For reference, see the PCGS Coinfacts page for the Carson City 1889 Morgan.

Die Cracks and Contact Marks Can Also Help Confirm Origins

Carefully inspect your coin for any die cracks, or raised lines across the coin’s surface indicating a damaged coin die. These cracks form randomly but will be consistent across authentic specimens from the same set of dies.

Also, check for unique contact marks from minting and use. The 1889-CC had a relatively low mintage of only 350,000 coins. Random abrasions can help match an individual coin to known verified specimens.

Die cracks and contact marks for verified 1889-CC dollars are documented online. For instance, 1889-CC dollars certified by PCGS or NGC often have images highlighting unique identifying marks.

Professional Coin Grading Adds Credibility and Market Value

Consider submitting your 1889-CC Morgan silver dollar to professional grading and authentication services like PCGS or NGC.

  • Grading services will verify the coin’s Carson City origin through technical analysis and expert review.
  • Coins are sealed in protective cases with grades from Poor to Perfect Mint State.
  • Market value typically increases significantly for professionally graded coins.
PCGS MS63 Carson City 1889 Morgan Value $3,850
Raw Uncertified Example $950

As the data shows, even a lower grade like MS63 can command over 4X the market value when professionally authenticated and graded by PCGS.

The Fabled History of the Carson City Mint and Its Coinage

Boom and Bust in Nevada’s Silver Mining Heyday

The discovery of major silver deposits in Nevada in the late 1850s sparked a rush of prospectors and miners to the area. Mining camps sprung up overnight, culminating in Nevada’s admission to statehood in 1864.

Fabulous fortunes were made as Nevada’s Comstock Lode became the richest known silver ore deposit in the world. Production peaked in 1877 at over $36 million, with Virginia City’s 6 major mines producing astounding quantities of silver and gold bullion (over $400 million in today’s money).

However, these boom times did not last. By the late 1870s, most of the readily accessible silver had been exhausted, and the Nevada mining industry declined rapidly. The previously booming mining camps turned into virtual ghost towns almost overnight.

Production figures tell the story of Nevada’s dramatic rise and fall – silver production crashed from over $16 million in 1876 to only $5 million in 1880 (source).

Short Operational Run for the Carson City Mint Facility

Responding to Nevada’s fabulous Comstock silver riches, the U.S. government authorized a mint facility at Carson City in 1863. New equipment was installed and coin production began in earnest in 1870. For nearly 20 years the Carson City Mint turned out an impressive array of silver coins, including the legendary Morgan silver dollar first produced in 1878.

However, hampered by Nevada’s declining mining fortunes, political pressures to consolidate mining operations, and the switch to the gold standard, the once-promising Carson City facility ceased coinage operations in 1885.

In fact, over its short operational life, the iconic Carson City Mint was only open for about 19 years. After sitting idle for over 60 years, the historic old stone building was finally turned into the Nevada State Museum in 1941 (source).

Notoriously Low Survivorship of CC Morgan Dollars

Despite their relatively short period of manufacture, coins struck at the Carson City Mint are in strong demand amongst collectors today. The legendary Morgan silver dollars bearing the famous “CC” mint mark are particularly sought after due to the steely beauty of the coins and lively Wild West nostalgia surrounding Carson City’s colorful history.

Indeed, according to publically available data, Carson City silver dollars from the 1880s are amongst the rarest American coins surviving today in government collections. Within the series, the 1889 Morgan dollar is considered an extreme rarity with perhaps only 14,000 – 25,000 pieces believed to still exist of the original mintage of 350,000 coins.

This extremely low survivorship percentage highlights the intrigue and allure of Carson City coinage to enthusiastic collectors and investors.

How to tell if 1889 silver dollar is cC – Conclusion

As you can see, while all 1889 Morgan silver dollars are scarce and desirable collectibles, the ones struck at the Carson City Mint stand in a class of their own when it comes to rarity and value.

We hope this guide gives you a good idea of where to check for the CC mint mark, how to authenticate these coins, their intriguing Wild West backstory, and why they continue to be so highly sought after more than 130 years after they were made.

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