What is the most valuable Morgan silver dollar? The Morgan silver dollar series spans from 1878 to 1921 and includes some of the most popular and valuable coins in numismatics. If you’ve inherited a stash of old Morgan dollars or are keen on starting your own collection, you’ll want to know which coins have the highest market values.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The most valuable Morgan silver dollar is the 1893-S, worth over $3 million in top grades due to its low mintage of just 100,000 coins.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top five most valuable Morgan dollars including key date rarities like the 1883-S and 1895 proof issues. You’ll learn what makes certain Morgans so scarce and desirable to collectors today as we examine coin grades, mintages, auction records, and the history behind these classic American silver coins.

Background on Morgan Dollars

Origins and Design

The Morgan silver dollar was minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. The coin was designed by George T. Morgan, from whom it gets its name. Morgan created an iconic image of Lady Liberty for the obverse side, while the reverse depicts an eagle with olive branches and arrows.

Morgan dollars contain 0.77344 troy ounces of 90% silver and 10% copper. With a diameter of 1.5 inches and a weight of 26.73 grams, these coins have an impressive heft and luster that silver collectors admire.

The large canvas provided by the silver dollar also allows for the intricate feather detailing on Lady Liberty and the eagle.

Mintages and Face Value

Over 585 million Morgan dollars were minted across five different U.S. Mints. But the totals vary widely between years. The 1921 issues were the last Morgans minted for circulation, with a more modest mintage below 86 million.

As silver dollars, Morgans have a face value of $1. But their high silver content means their bullion value has usually been much greater. Even common-date Morgans in circulated condition are worth around $25 today, while rare dates and mint marks can reach five to six figures.

Grading Morgan Dollars

The condition of a Morgan dollar plays a huge role in its collectibility. Most show at least some wear from decades of use in commerce. Professional grading services like PCGS and NGC provide consistent assessments on a numeric scale to gauge preservation.

While circulated Morgans grade below AU-50, coins grading Mint State-60 through MS-68 are considered uncirculated. True gem examples at MS-65 or better have a brilliant luster and virtually flawless surfaces.

Just 0.02% of existing Morgan dollars are certified at pristine MS-67 condition or higher, commanding staggering premiums up to six figures at auction.

The Top 5 Most Valuable Morgan Dollars

1893-S Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1893-S Morgan silver dollar is widely considered the king of Morgan dollars. With a mintage of just 100,000 coins, the 1893-S is the lowest mintage business strike Morgan dollar. High demand from collectors and low supply have driven prices for the 1893-S into the six figures.

In 2021, an MS67 sample sold at auction for $1,250,000. Truly amazing for a coin that originally cost $1!

1895 Morgan Silver Dollar Proof

There were only 880 proof Morgan dollars made in 1895, making it one of the lowest mintage proof issues. As you might expect, this scant supply results in enormous demand from date collectors. In 2018, an incredible PR68 1895 Morgan dollar was hammered for $408,000 at auction.

Of the 12 PR68 examples certified by PCGS, it’s believed only 3-4 still exist in private collections.

1901 Morgan Silver Dollar Proof

Like the 1895 issue, the double-die reverse 1901 Morgan boasts a tiny original mintage that is unknown. It is the penultimate date in the Proof Morgan series, further fueling demand. In 2021, Heritage Auctions sold a PR68 1901 Morgan for a healthy $120,000.

In 2018, Stack’s Bowers auctioned the Eliasberg specimen PR67+ 1901 Morgan dollar – one of the finest known examples – for $264,000.

1889-CC Morgan Silver Dollar

Hailing from the legendary Carson City Mint, the 1889-CC Morgan silver dollar has long been popular with collectors. The mintage sat at 350,000 pieces. Unlike some vastly rarer dates, the ’89-CC is obtainable in circulated condition. But gems remain scarce due to unsatisfactory striking and bag marks.

In Heritage’s 2021 November sale, an MS65 example brought $84,000. For comparison, an MS60 coin might sell for around $1,500.

1883-S Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1883-S Morgan claims a relatively large mintage of more than 6.2 million coins. But like so many 19th-century issues, the vast majority entered circulation, abrading and marking the surfaces. As such, lands in upper-mint state grades are highly coveted.

Back in 2018, Legend Rare Coin Auctions sold an MS67 1883-S Morgan for an impressive $141,000. High-resolution images revealed nearly pristine surfaces on this 137-year-old silver cartwheel.

Detecting Rare and Valuable Specimens

Study the Mint Mark

One of the best ways to detect a rare and valuable Morgan silver dollar is to carefully study the mint mark. This small letter indicates which US Mint produced the coin. For Morgans, the rarest and most coveted mint marks are CC (Carson City) and S (San Francisco).

Finding a CC or S mint mark drastically increases the coin’s value over common Philadelphia minted specimens. Collectors also seek out O mint-marked coins from the New Orleans Mint.

Evaluate the Condition

A Morgan dollar’s condition is vital in determining its worth. Well-preserved specimens with minimal wear, attractive original toning, strong details, and no major damage command huge premiums. While lower-grade circulated examples are common, high-grade uncirculated Morgans are the true rarities driving multi-thousand dollar valuations.

Even slight differences in condition grade make a monumental difference in price on the open market.

Check Coin Certification and Grades

Have any valuable Morgan dollars professionally graded and certified by PCGS, NGC, or ANACS. The strict numeric grade and opinion from an independent third-party service give buyers confidence in the coin’s authenticity and condition.

This step is absolutely vital to realizing top dollar on important numismatic pieces. A Morgan-certified MS-65 or better will trade for exponentially more than raw uncirculated examples.

Look for Special Pedigrees

Morgan dollars from legendary collections command incredible prices. Fabled names like Norweb, Eliasberg, Pittman, and Carter get the numismatic world buzzing. Well-documented pedigree creates mystique and stories behind the coins, driving up desirability.

Other famous hoards including the LaVere Redfield hoard and the Treasury hoards of the 1960s can also greatly increase the value of rare dates/mints.

Building a Morgan Dollar Collection

Decide Your Budget

As with any coin collection, determining a budget is crucial when starting your Morgan dollar accumulation. Morgan dollars can range from very affordable to extremely expensive depending on date, mint mark, condition, and rarity.

Common date Morgan dollars in average circulated condition can be bought for as little as $30-40 each. However, rare date Morgans in pristine uncirculated condition can cost tens of thousands of dollars per coin. Decide how much you can reasonably spend on your collection based on your means.

Pick a Focus or Theme

There are many ways to collect Morgan dollars. Some ideas are:

  • Collect one coin from each year and mint
  • Focus on coins only from a certain mint like Carson City
  • Try to assemble a complete set of Morgans rated MS-65 by PCGS or NGC
  • Collect coins depicting unique VAM die varieties

Having a particular collecting focus will help guide your purchases.

Know the Major Keys and Semi-Keys

When buying Morgan dollars, it helps to know the rarest and most expensive dates/mints, known as the “keys.” These include the 1889-CC, 1893-S, 1895, 1901, and others. There are also several “semi-keys” that carry significant premiums like the 1879-CC, 1884-S, and 1886-O among others.

1889-CC Rarest Carson City Morgan
1893-S Lowest mintage Morgan dollar

Understanding the key and semi-key dates will assist you in making informed purchases.

Aim for Higher Grades When Possible

With numismatic coins like Morgan dollars, the condition is paramount. A coin graded Mint State 65 by PCGS or NGC can be worth twice or more compared to the same coin graded MS64. An MS65 coin can sell for 10x or higher the price of the same date/mint in lightly circulated Extremely Fine 40 condition.

When purchasing Morgans for your collection, try to buy coins certified MS63 or higher whenever possible to maximize the value of your investment over time.

For more guidance on collecting Morgan silver dollars, see the PCGS Morgan Dollar Coin Price Guide.

What Is The Most Valuable Morgan Silver Dollar – Conclusion

As one of the most extensively collected classic U.S. coin series, top-grade Morgan silver dollars continue to command impressive premiums – especially key dates like the 1893-S, 1895 proof, and other famous rarities covered here.

Understanding what makes these coins so scarce and valuable can help you spot important pieces when searching through old collections or coin dealer inventory. By following the tips on detecting and acquiring rare Morgans, you’ll be on your way to owning these historic silver coins that represent an important transitional period in American numismatic history.

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