Where is the mint mark on a 1888 silver dollar? For coin collectors, identifying the mint that produced a coin can significantly impact its value. If you have an 1888 silver dollar, knowing where to find the mint mark is an important first step in assessing the coin’s rarity and collector appeal.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The mint mark on an 1888 silver dollar can be found on the reverse (tail side) of the coin below the eagle, above the letter ‘O’ in ‘DOLLAR’.
It will be a small letter denoting the mint that struck the coin: ‘O’ for New Orleans, ‘CC’ for Carson City, ‘S’ for San Francisco, or none for Philadelphia.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to locate that mint mark on your 1888 Morgan silver dollar, identify which mint it represents, and understand the impact on the coin’s value for collectors.
A Brief History of Morgan Silver Dollar Mint Marks
The Morgan silver dollar is one of the most popular and well-known coins in American numismatics. First minted in 1878, the coin features a portrait of Lady Liberty by designer George T. Morgan on the obverse side. On the reverse is an eagle with arrows and an olive branch.
But one interesting aspect of Morgan’s are the tiny letters that can be found on the coin’s reverse under the eagle’s tail feathers – the mint mark.
Mint marks indicate at which of the United States mints the coin was struck. Up until 1968, coins were minted at facilities in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, Carson City, New Orleans, and for one year in 1921, Denver.
Knowing where a Morgan dollar was minted can make a difference in the coin’s value to collectors and investors.
No Mint Mark – Philadelphia
If there is no mint mark on the reverse of a Morgan silver dollar below the eagle, then it was minted at the main United States Mint facility in Philadelphia. As the main branch, Philadelphia did not need a special mark. The lack of a mark means it’s a “Philadelphia coin.”
Hundreds of millions of Morgan dollars were minted in “Philly” from 1878 up until the end of the series in 1904, and again for a short time in 1921. Philadelphia Morgans are generally the most common dates and grades. But some, like the 1895 proof, are rare and expensive for collectors.
CC Carson City Mint
If a teeny tiny “CC” mint mark can be found below the eagle’s tail feathers, it signifies that the coin was struck at the historic Carson City Mint.
Carson City Morgan silver dollars are scarcer than their Philadelphia counterparts. Standout key dates include the 1883-CC, 1884-CC, and 1893-CC. The 1883-CC had an original mintage of only 12,642 business strikes.
With precious few survivors remaining, this date can trade for five figures in top grades.
S – San Francisco Mint
The letter S below the eagle means the Morgan dollar was produced at the San Francisco Mint in California. One of the older branch mints, “San Francisco” coins are almost always rarer than coins from the eastern mints. It was closest to the rich Comstock silver lodes and mainly struck silver coins.
Key Morgan dollars from the S Mint include the 1895 proof and the legendary 1893-S, which has a tiny circulation strike mintage of 100,000 pieces. With so few coins struck and even fewer remaining, the 1893-S commands premiums over $50,000 in the top certified grades.
It is known as the “King of Morgan Dollars.”
Locating the 1888 Morgan Dollar’s Mint Mark
The Highly Sought-After ‘O’ Mark
The most desirable 1888 Morgan silver dollars bear the ‘O’ mint mark of the New Orleans Mint. These coins feature DDO errors, making them rare and valuable to collectors today.
Finding an 1888-O Morgan is like striking gold for silver dollar enthusiasts. In pristine condition, they have sold for over $4,500 at auction. Even worn specimens can fetch over $350.
No Mark for Philadelphia
Morgan dollars minted in Philadelphia in 1888 have no mint mark. As the main U.S. Mint, Philadelphia coins traditionally went unmarked. So an 1888 Philadelphia Morgan will display no letter near the eagle’s tail feathers on the coin’s reverse.
While common, circulated examples still carry a moderate premium. Prices start around $65 for heavily worn coins. Uncirculated versions sell for $200-$300+, with pristine MS65 specimens topping $700.
San Francisco The ‘S’ Mint Mark
San Francisco came out with 657,000 1888-dated dollars marked with an ‘S’. Like the ‘O’ coins, they are collectible in all conditions. Plan on spending $80 or more, even for a well-worn specimen. Top-grade examples certifying MS65 can cost $2,000-$4,000 each.
Checking Other Date & Feature Varieties
The 1888/7 overdate variety is a rare and valuable error coin where an 1888 date was stamped over a preexisting 1887 date. This occured when the mint reused the 1887 dated die and imperfectly punched the new 1888 date over the old one, leaving traces of the previous 7 dates visible under magnification.
On the 1888/7 overdate, the top loop of the underlying 7 can be seen protruding from the bottom of the 8 in the 1888 date. This prominent marker makes the variety easier to detect. Other more subtle signs include a slightly distorted or doubled look to the 188 date.
The fields around the date may also show evidence of the earlier 7 date.
1888-O Hot Lips Variety
The 1888-O “Hot Lips” variety is a fascinating double-die obverse coin struck at the New Orleans Mint. It gets its colorful name from a strong doubling of Liberty’s lips on the obverse making them look fuller or “hotter.”
The distinctive doubling affects several other obverse design elements as well:
- Liberty’s nose and eye are also strongly doubled
- Doubling shows on the word LIBERTY
- The date is 1888 and the stars are all thickened and spread
This dramatic layered look on Liberty’s face is a result of the obverse die receiving two slightly offset impressions from the hub during the die preparation process. This double die was then used to strike 1888-O Morgan dollars, creating the eye-catching Hot Lips variety.
|Estimated number of 1888-O Hot Lips coins:
|Typical auction price:
|$75,000 to $100,000+
Due to its rarity, collectors highly prize the 1888-O Hot Lips Morgan. Verifying authenticity is crucial as counterfeits exist. Images and information can be found on sites like PCGS CoinFacts.
Impact of the Mint Mark on an 1888 Morgan Dollar’s Value
Highest Values for S and O Coins
The most valuable 1888 Morgan dollars bear the ‘S’ mint mark of the San Francisco Mint. Only 657,000 of these coins were produced, making them exceptionally rare. An 1888-S dollar in lightly circulated condition can easily sell for over $4,000 at auction.
Examples graded MS-63 or higher by PCGS or NGC can fetch five-figure prices.
Demand for these coins is always strong among series specialists and Wild West-era enthusiasts.
Premiums for Lower Mintage New Orleans
The 1888-O and 1888-S New Orleans and San Francisco Mint issues still sell for sizable premiums over their Philadelphia and Denver counterparts. Just over 12 million 1888-O dollars were made.
In circulated grades like EF and AU, these two coins trade for around $125 and $175 respectively. Meanwhile, common 1888 Philadelphia Mint issues can be found for only $40 to $60 in the same worn condition. So the New Orleans and San Francisco Mints confer a definite bonus.
|Over 20 million
In Mint State grades, this spread becomes even more pronounced. An MS-63 1888-O or 1888-S is worth $700 to $900. Meanwhile, the same quality 1888 Philadelphia issue trades for just $135. The mint marks make a world of difference to value.
Specialized references like the PCGS CoinFacts site provide in-depth mintage, value, and auction data on each date and mint variety of Morgan dollars. For accurate price analysis, collectors should always consult these expert resources.
Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1888 Silver Dollar – Conclusion
As you can see, properly identifying that tiny mint mark letter is crucial for valuing an 1888 silver dollar. While Philadelphia issues lacking a mint mark are common, the New Orleans, and San Francisco versions had much lower mintages, meaning greater scarcity and appeal to collectors today.
So carefully check below the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse of your coin. If you spot that tiny ‘O’, or ‘S’, be sure to further research the specific date and mint mark issue, as it likely carries a significant premium over more common Philadelphia coinage.