Where is the mint mark on a 1879 silver dollar? Silver dollars minted in 1879, especially the coveted Morgan silver dollar, are highly valued by coin collectors and investors today. If you have come into possession of an 1879 silver dollar, you may be wondering about identifying details imprinted on the coin, specifically the mint mark.

If you need a quick answer, the mint mark on an 1879 Morgan silver dollar can be found on the reverse (tails) side of the coin, near the bottom, just under the eagle, and above the letter ‘O’ in ‘DOLLAR’. Coins minted in Philadelphia will not have a mint mark.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide extensive details on 1879 Morgan silver dollar mint marks, including their locations, the mints that produced this coin, and how to spot proof versus business strike dollars.

1879 Silver Dollar Overview

Highlights and key dates of 1879 Morgan dollars

The 1879 Morgan silver dollar marks the first year of production for the famous Morgan silver dollar series. Minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921, the Morgan dollars represent one of the most popular classic U.S. coin series.

The 1879 issue comes right at the beginning of the Morgan dollar minting. As such, it holds a special place for many coin collectors and historians. While not considered a major “key date,” the 1879 issue does contain a few notable varieties and subtypes.

These include:

  • 1879-S Reverse of 1878: This is the rarest subtype of 1879 Morgan dollars, featuring the old 1878 reverse design paired with an 1879-dated obverse. Only 700-800 examples are believed to exist.
  • 1879-S Doubled Die Obverse: This popular doubling variety shows a strong doubling of the date, letters, and stars on the obverse. It commands a significant premium in mint state grades.
  • 1879-CC Capped Die: On this variety, a raised die crack or “cud” forms from wear and cracks in the die’s surface. Just 4-to 5 examples of this rare capped die exist nowadays.

While highly collected as first-year Morgans, most regular 1879 Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco issues trade fairly close to common-date values in circulated condition. Ingem mint state grades remain scarce and expensive for all 1879 issues.

Major design elements (obverse and reverse)

Morgan silver dollars feature a distinctive “Liberty Head” obverse portrait of Lady Liberty. Designed by Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan in 1877, the left-facing bust shows Liberty with a Phrygian cap representing freedom.

Thirteen six-pointed stars symbolizing the 13 original colonies encircle the periphery. The date and motto “In God We Trust” appear above Liberty’s head. To the lower left is the mint mark, identifying the coin’s production facility – none for Philadelphia, CC for Carson City, O for New Orleans, and S for San Francisco.

The reverse depicts a heraldic eagle holding arrows and an olive branch, with a ribbon reading “E Pluribus Unum” in its beak. The legend “United States of America” and the coin’s face value, “One Dollar,” frame the outer rim.

On early 1879 issues, the eagle clutches the arrows in its right talon – this reversed to its left talon starting in late 1879.

Struck in 90% silver with a total weight of 26.73 grams, the coin’s dimensions measure 38.1mm in diameter by 2.5mm in thickness. As with all classic U.S. silver dollars, the reeded edge is inscribed with the mottoes “E Pluribus Unum” and “In God We Trust.”

The complex design with its depth of relief and mirror-like fields made Morgan dollars a challenge to produce. As a result, most issues are riddled with an array of contact marks, abrasions, bag marks, and other signs of mechanical damage.

Mint Marks on 1879 Morgan Dollars

Philadelphia mint (no mint mark)

The main branch of the United States Mint did not use a mint mark in 1879, so Morgan dollars struck in Philadelphia have no mint mark. As the largest and most productive mint, Philadelphia struck the majority of 1879 Morgan dollars including over 14.8 million business strike coins.

Carson City mint mark (CC)

The Carson City mint in Nevada placed a distinctive CC mint mark on Morgan dollars it produced in 1879. Only 756,000 coins were struck at the Carson City mint that year. The 1879-CC dollars are scarcer and more valuable to collectors than the Philadelphia issue.

An 1879-CC in uncirculated condition can sell for over $1,000.

New Orleans mint mark (O)

The New Orleans mint placed an O mint mark on the 1879 Morgan dollars it struck. The New Orleans issue had a relatively small output of just 2.9 million coins. The 1879-O is considered a better date due to its lower mintage. An attractive mint state example can fetch upwards of $200 at auction.

San Francisco mint mark (S)

An S mint mark indicates that an 1879 Morgan dollar was struck at the San Francisco mint. This branch produced nearly 9.1 million business strike silver dollars that year. While still common in lower grades, uncirculated 1879-S dollars are scarcer.

An MS65 coin certified by PCGS sold for $475 in October 2022.

Locating the Mint Mark on an 1879 Silver Dollar

Where to find the mint mark

On an 1879 silver dollar, the mint mark can be found on the reverse (tails) side of the coin below the wreath, near the bottom under the center. You’ll need to look closely, as the mint mark is quite small. A magnifying glass may help reveal the tiny letter.

There are three possible mint marks you may find on an 1879 silver dollar:

  • No mint mark – This indicates the coin was minted in Philadelphia
  • CC – Carson City Mint
  • S – San Francisco Mint

The Carson City (CC) and San Francisco (S) mint marks are rare and make the coin more valuable to collectors. For example, an 1879 CC silver dollar recently sold for over $5,000 at auction!

How to identify proof versus business strikes

There are two main types of 1879 silver dollars – proof versions and business strike versions:

  • Proof coins – These were specially struck for collectors and have mirrored surfaces and frosted design elements. Only 1,100 proof 1879 dollars were minted across all mints.
  • Business strikes – These are the regular circulation coins with more matte-like surfaces. Over 14 million business strike 1879 silver dollars were produced.

Telling proofs and business strikes apart can be tricky. Experts suggest examining the coin closely under good lighting to identify the unique finish of proof coins. Also, proof coins tend to have sharper details in elements like Lady Liberty’s hair.

The fields on business strikes will have more noticeable bag marks.

Certification from grading services like PCGS or NGC can confirm if an 1879 dollar is proof. This greatly affects value-proof coins are worth far more. An 1879 proof recently graded PR64 by PCGS sold for over $50,000!

Tips for Verifying Authenticity of 1879 Dollars

Examine surfaces and edges for wear/damage

Carefully inspecting the surfaces and edges of an 1879 dollar can provide clues about its authenticity. Genuine coins will show slight to moderate wear on the highest points of the designs, while counterfeits often lack appropriate wear.

Additionally, authentic old coins develop a smooth, even toning over decades of handling. Artificial toning on counterfeits may look spotty or uneven under magnification. When examining an 1879 dollar, check the edge for unnatural gaps, bubbles, or other signs of a fake coin cast in molds.

Use a scale to test exact weight specifications

An accurate digital scale can verify if an 1879 dollar meets the correct weight specifications of 26.73 grams. This is vital for detecting subtle underweight counterfeits. When weighing any coin, be sure the scale is properly calibrated first.

For most authentic 1879 silver dollars, expect a normal weight range of 26.648–26.792 grams, allowing for slight wear over almost a century and a half. Comparing the measured weight against published specifications can catch counterfeits missing silver content.

Consult a reputable coin grading service when needed

For rare or highly valuable 1879 dollars, professional authentication from respected third-party grading services like PCGS or NGC may be warranted. Their experts evaluate coins based on characteristics like surface preservation, strike sharpness, toning, and wear.

Coins are assigned numeric grades from 1 through 70 along with a declaration of either genuine or counterfeit. Services like these provide the highest reliability but also charge substantial fees. For common-date 1879 dollars not worth hundreds or more, self-verification often suffices.

Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1879 Silver Dollar – Conclusion

Identifying mint marks is key to determining the origin, rarity, and value of 1879 Morgan silver dollars. Now that you know where to look on an 1879 dollar’s reverse for its mint mark, as well as tips for authenticating these coins, you can better assess any examples you acquire.

With this knowledge in hand, you can confidently purchase, appraise, collect, and appreciate these historic and highly prized pieces of American numismatic heritage.

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