Where is the mint mark on a 1891 silver dollar? The 1891 silver dollar holds intrigue for coin collectors and history lovers alike. Minted in a time of economic turmoil, each coin tells a story of early American currency. If you have come into possession of an 1891 Morgan silver dollar, you may be wondering – where is the mint mark stamped?

Read on for a deep dive into locating the sometimes-elusive hallmark on this iconic vintage coin.

If you’re pressed for time, the quick answer is: the mint mark on an 1891 Morgan silver dollar can be found on the reverse (back or eagle) side of the coin, just below the wreath near the 6 o’clock position.

A Brief History of the 1891 Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1891 Morgan silver dollar has an intriguing history. It was minted in a time of economic turmoil in the United States as the country transitioned from the free and unlimited coinage of silver to the gold standard.

Production of the popular Morgan dollar began in 1878 under the Bland-Allison Act, which required the government to purchase large amounts of silver bullion and turn it into coins. The goal was to boost the economy and help silver miners by creating a market for their metal.

The Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Carson City mints cranked out millions of Morgan dollars in the late 1800s. The Carson City mint was known for lower mintage coins that are coveted by collectors today.

The End of Free Silver Coinage

In the early 1890s, debates raged in Congress over the country’s monetary policy. There was a push to end the free and unlimited coinage of silver due to declining metal prices. This policy allowed anyone to bring silver to the mint and have it turned into Morgan dollars.

The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was passed in 1890, which greatly reduced the amount of silver the government was required to coin. It drove up the price of the metal briefly.

However economic instability took hold in 1893, culminating in the Panic of 1893 financial crisis. President Grover Cleveland called for a repeal of the Sherman Act and an end to free silver coins to stem the financial bleeding. The Coinage Act of 1873 formally ended free silver coinage.

Scarce Numbers of 1891 Morgan Dollars

With all the political and economic uncertainty in 1891, fewer Morgan silver dollars were minted that year relative to other years:

  • Philadelphia Mint – 8,694,206
  • New Orleans Mint – 7,954,529
  • Carson City Mint – 1,618,000
  • San Francisco – 5,296,000

Coin experts speculate even fewer 1891 Morgan’s were released into circulation, with millions having been melted or destroyed. Their scarcity compared to other common-date Morgan coins is why 1891 demands a slight premium in lower mint state grades.

Collectability of the 1891 Morgan Today

Because no Carson City coinage facility Morgan dollars were struck after 1893, the 1891 CC is popular with collectors. Most 1891 Philadelphia and New Orleans mint coins exhibit heavy wear due to extensive use in commerce.

About 658,000 1891-O Morgan’s were melted down into silver ingots. This further limited an already low-mintage date. Collectors pay huge premiums for the few remaining mint state examples.

So while not the absolute rarest, the 1891 Morgan silver dollar has an intriguing backstory. This short-lived series that was abruptly canceled also fuels demand from modern collectors and investors.

Locating the Mint Mark on an 1891 Morgan Dollar

New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans Mint opened in 1838 and produced coins until 1909 when operations ceased. It briefly reopened from 1949 to 1961 to produce commemorative coins. Morgan dollars with the “O” mint mark were produced at the New Orleans Mint from 1879-1904.

To locate the mint mark on an 1891-O Morgan dollar, check the reverse side of the coin, just below the eagle. The “O” mint mark signifies it was struck at the New Orleans Mint.

San Francisco Mint

The San Francisco Mint began operations in 1854 to serve the gold rush on the West Coast. It started producing Morgan dollars in 1878, identified with an “S” mint mark. On an 1891-S Morgan dollar, the mint mark is located on the reverse just below the eagle, the same as other branch mints.

The “S” signifies the coin was produced at the San Francisco Mint.

Carson City Mint

The Carson City Mint in Nevada operated from 1870-1893 to process and coin locally sourced silver. It was unique since most mints were located in major port cities. Carson City Morgan dollars display a “CC” mint mark below the eagle on the reverse.

Only 2.5 million 1891-CC dollars were minted before the mint ceased operations, making them rare and valuable today.

Philadelphia Mint

As the main U.S. Mint since 1792, Philadelphia did not use a mint mark until 1980. So an 1891 Morgan dollar with no mint mark was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Philadelphia struck over 20 million 1891 Morgan dollars, the highest of any mint that year.

Checking for the absence of a mint mark below the eagle confirms no “P” designation is present.

Determining An 1891 Silver Dollar’s Value Based on Its Mint Mark

Determining the value of an 1891 silver dollar requires carefully inspecting the coin for identifying marks, especially the mint mark. This tells you at which US mint the coin was produced – Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, or San Francisco.

Philadelphia Mint (No Mint Mark)

The Philadelphia Mint produced the highest number of 1891 silver dollars. Coins from this mint have no mint mark. An 1891 Philadelphia silver dollar in well-worn condition is worth about $25. One in mint state (no wear) ranges from $85 to $200 depending on condition.

Carson City Mint (CC Mint Mark)

The Carson City mint in Nevada struck far fewer 1891 silver dollars. These coveted coins have a distinct CC mint mark. Because of lower production, Carson City silver dollars trade for high premiums. An 1891 CC dollar averages between $425 (well-circulated) and $2,300 (mint state).

New Orleans Mint (O Mint Mark)

New Orleans silver dollars from 1891 feature an O mint mark. Only around 700,000 were made, leading to higher values. Well-worn specimens cost roughly $30. Uncirculated examples sell for $350 to $875 based on condition and eye appeal.

San Francisco Mint (S Mint Mark)

The San Francisco mint produced 1891 dollars boasting an S mint mark. It had a relatively small output of under one million coins. An 1891 S dollar ranges from $30 in worn condition up to $740 for a pristine uncirculated specimen.

As you can see, mint marks significantly affect the value of 1891 Morgan silver dollars. Carson City and New Orleans coins command the highest premiums among collectors and investors.

Caring for and Preserving an 1891 Morgan Silver Dollar

Caring for a rare and valuable 1891 Morgan silver dollar requires gentleness and proper storage to preserve its condition. As these coins age over 130 years, they become more fragile and susceptible to wear and tear.

Handle with Care

Whenever touching an 1891 Morgan, be sure to hold it by the edges and wear cotton gloves. The oils from bare hands can corrode the coin’s surface over time. Additionally, don’t drop, scratch, or knock the coin around, as that can reduce its grade and eye appeal.

Proper Storage

The best way to store an 1891 Morgan dollar is in an airtight coin holder or flip. These encapsulate the coin and protect its surface from exposure to air, dust, and oils. Store coin holders in a cool, dark place with moderate humidity to prevent corrosion or toning.

Some recommended storage places are a safe, bank safety deposit box, or storage facility with climate control.

Professional Grading Services

Consider having an 1891 Morgan professionally graded and certified by services like PCGS or NGC. This involves encapsulating the coin in a hard plastic holder with an assigned grade. Not only does this protect the coin, but it also authenticates the coin and confirms its condition.

Graded coins tend to increase an 1891 Morgan’s value significantly. For example, an MS-65 certified coin sells for around $5,000 compared to $100-$200 for a standard, uncertified piece.

Cleaning and Restoration

Never attempt to clean or restore the surfaces of an 1891 Morgan yourself. Doing so will significantly reduce its numismatic value. Instead, consult a professional coin dealer or grading service about coins needing restoration.

Gently wiping a coin with a soft, lint-free cloth is okay. Still, be cautious even when doing that.

Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1891 Silver Dollar – Conclusion

With over 100 years of history behind it, an 1891 Morgan silver dollar and its mint mark can tell a captivating story. Now that you know where to look on the coin’s reverse side, you can start decoding where your coin was struck.

Reference the mint mark, condition, and scarcity when assessing your coin’s value. With proper handling, storage, and care, your coin can be preserved for many generations to come.

Similar Posts