What is the weight of a Morgan silver dollar? The Morgan silver dollar, named after its designer George T. Morgan, is one of the most popular and iconic coins in American numismatics. If you have come across a Morgan dollar and want to know specifics about its weight, dimensions, silver content, or value, then you’ve found the right resource.
If you’re short on time, here’s the key fact about a Morgan dollar’s weight: the standard Morgan silver dollar weighs 26.73 grams.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the exact specifications and weight of these cherished 90% silver coins. You will learn about the specific weights across different Morgan silver dollar dates and variations.
We’ll also provide useful tips on weighing your own Morgan dollars properly.
Standard Morgan Silver Dollar Weight
The standard Morgan silver dollar contains 0.7734 troy ounces of pure silver. At 31.103 grams per troy ounce, this equals 26.73 grams of silver content. The remaining weight is composed of copper, which strengthens the coin’s durability.
The 26.73-gram silver weight has been a defining characteristic of Morgan dollars since the series was first minted in 1878. The large silver content gave the coins tremendous intrinsic value in their day.
Now highly coveted by collectors and investors, many Morgan dollars sell for sizable premiums over the value of their fine silver content alone.
0.8575 oz troy
While the pure silver weight is 26.73 grams, a Morgan silver dollar weighs slightly more at 0.8575 troy ounces. The extra 0.0841 ounces comes from the 10% copper alloy that is mixed with the silver to harden the coin.
The precise specification for the Morgan dollar is 90% silver, 10% copper, and a total weight of 412.5 grains. Converting this grain measurement to troy ounces gives us the official 0.8575 oz weight.
Verifying the exact weight can help authenticate these valuable coins. Many counterfeits use incorrect weights. Genuine Morgans will always fall in a narrow range right around the 0.8575 troy ounce specification when weighed on a professional precision scale.
The Morgan Silver Dollar’s 90% Silver Composition
0.77344 oz Actual Silver Weight
The Morgan silver dollar contains 0.77344 troy ounces of pure silver. This large silver content gives the coins their substantial weight and value. The silver purity is 90%, with the remaining 10% being copper alloy added for durability.
With silver trading today at around $20 per troy ounce, a single Morgan silver dollar contains about $15 worth of pure silver. This fluctuates daily with the commodity markets. When silver peaked at nearly $50 per oz in 1980, these coins intrinsically were worth around $38 each!
0.08406 oz Copper Alloy
To make the Morgan silver dollar more durable for circulation, the United States Mint added 10% copper alloy to the coin’s composition. This equates to 0.08406 troy ounces per coin.
The alloy gives the silver dollar a more orange “copperish” hue versus pure silver. It also hardens the coin, reducing wear over time. This was an important durability consideration, as the government expected the Morgan dollars to circulate extensively in commerce along with gold coins.
The 90% silver – 10% copper alloy composition was also used for many other US coins of the era like Quarter Dollars and Half Dollars. This standardized the silver purity across different denominations for efficient smelting and refining.
Small Variations in Weight by Mint and Year
Morgan silver dollars, the popular silver coin produced from 1878 to 1904 and revived briefly in 1921, are known for having a standard weight of 26.73 grams. However, there have been minor variations in the actual weight of Morgans over the years depending on the Mint that struck them and the year of production.
Differences Between Mints
Morgan dollars were produced at five different Mints during their history: Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Denver. The Philadelphia Mint generally had the most consistent weights closest to the 26.73-gram standard. However, the other Mints showed some slight variances:
- Carson City Morgans tended to be slightly overweight, averaging 26.75 grams.
- New Orleans Morgans varied a bit from year to year but averaged around 26.7 grams.
- San Francisco coins were generally underweight compared to the standard, averaging 26.65 grams.
- Denver Morgans were significantly below the 26.73 gram standard, averaging 26.50 to 26.60 grams in the early 1920s.
These small differences by Mint were largely due to variances in quality control and wear on coin planchets over time at each location.
Fluctuations by Year
In addition to Mint differences, Morgan weights fluctuated slightly from year to year due to factors like the quality of available silver and ongoing wear of coin dies and machinery:
- In the first few years of production (1878 to 1882), weights were generally above average, averaging 26.75 to 26.80 grams as dies were still crisp and required more pressure.
- In the mid-1880s, during a recession, less silver reached the Mints and weights began dropping below 26.70 grams.
- By the late 1890s, weights fell to lower levels approaching 26.60 grams at some Mints as machinery aged.
- When Morgans resumed in 1921, Denver’s issues were under 26.60 grams reflecting their heavily worn coin presses.
|26.50-26.60 grams (Denver)
These minor weight variations by Mint and year are important to note for coin collectors examining Morgans, but the differences ultimately had little impact on the coins’ silver value in circulation at the time.
Tips for Weighing Morgan Dollars Accurately
Use a Precise Scale
When weighing Morgan silver dollars, it’s important to use a precise scale that can measure down to at least 0.1 grams. Many common kitchen or postal scales are not sensitive enough to pick up subtle differences in coin weights.
Purchase a jeweler’s scale or precious metals scale with a smaller margin of error to get the most accurate Morgan dollar weights.
High-quality digital scales tend to provide the best precision for weighing coins. Make sure to check the specs and ensure the scale has at least 0.1-gram accuracy before purchasing. Calibrate the scale periodically with calibration weights to maintain accuracy over time.
Account for Wear/Damage
Since Morgan dollars are over 100 years old, many examples have some degree of wear, damage, cleaning, or other issues. This can reduce the actual silver content and weight compared to a pristine uncirculated coin.
Carefully inspect each Morgan dollar under good lighting and accounting for wear level, cleaning, holes, gouges, rim dings, etc. Heavily worn, damaged, or cleaned coins may weigh 1-2 grams less than mint state examples.
Knowing the details is key for understanding discrepancies in Morgan dollar weights.
Compare Multiple Coins
Whenever possible, weigh several Morgan silver dollars and compare the weights. Weighing multiple coins helps account for normal variations in striking pressure and tolerances even among uncirculated coins direct from bank rolls.
For example, Mint State 65 certified 1881-S Morgan could weigh 26.73 grams while another grade MS67 and weighs 26.85 grams. Weighing just one coin does not provide enough data to make reliable judgments.
Expand the sample size and look for any outliers with especially high or low weights compared to most other Morgan dollar coins. Consult authoritative pricing guides like the PCGS Price Guide for typical weight ranges among different Morgan issues in various condition grades.
On average, most Morgan dollars in mint state grades weigh between 26.70 and 27.00 grams.
The Value of Silver in Morgan Dollars Today
Morgan silver dollars contain 0.7734 troy ounces of pure silver. With the current spot price of silver at around $23 per troy ounce, the intrinsic silver value in a Morgan dollar is about $17.80.
However, most Morgan dollars trade for much more than just the silver melt value. There are a few key factors that impact the collectible value of Morgan dollars:
Date and Mintmark
Certain dates and mintmarks are more desirable to collectors. For example, the 1893-S, 1895, and 1921 Morgan dollars are all key dates that can trade for thousands of dollars even in circulated condition.
Mintmarks like the 1893-S from San Francisco and Carson City dollars tend to carry heavy premiums.
The grade or condition of a Morgan dollar plays a huge role in its value. A heavily worn circulated coin may only be worth silver melt. But a pristine, uncirculated coin can fetch incredible prices. In 2021, an MS68 1896 Morgan sold at auction for over $300,000!
As one of the most popular classic U.S. coin series, Morgan dollars enjoy strong ongoing demand from collectors. Rare dates and condition coins tend to appreciate steadily over time. High-end uncirculated and proof Morgans set new record prices at auction regularly.
So while the silver melt value provides a base level of intrinsic worth, collector premiums are responsible for most of the value in Morgan silver dollars today.
What Is The Weight Of A Morgan Silver Dollar – Conclusion
As one of the most iconic American coins ever minted, the 90% silver Morgan dollar has an interesting history tied to Western expansion, economic policies, and treasured coin collections.
While the standard specifications have a fixed weight of 26.73 grams, actual individual Morgan dollars may show slight variations depending on the mint and condition. Understanding the proper silver weight and how to accurately weigh Morgan dollars helps collectors evaluate these cherished pieces of history.