Where is the mint mark on a 1896 silver dollar? The 1896 silver dollar is a coveted coin among collectors due to its age, silver composition, and the history surrounding these coins. If you have come into possession of an 1896 silver dollar, you may be wondering about identifying details like the mint mark.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the mint mark on 1896 Morgan silver dollars is found on the reverse below the wreath, above the letter “D” in the word “DOLLAR”.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about finding the mint mark on your 1896 silver dollar.

Mint Marks and What They Signify

Mint marks are small letters or symbols that are stamped onto coins to indicate the mint where the coins were produced. For 19th-century US coins like the 1896 Morgan Silver Dollar, mint marks can provide key information about the rarity and potential value of the coin.

Mint Facilities in the Late 19th Century

In the late 1800s, there were five active US mint facilities producing coins:

  • Philadelphia (no mint mark)
  • Denver (D mint mark)
  • San Francisco (S mint mark)
  • New Orleans (O mint mark)
  • Carson City (CC mint mark)

The Philadelphia Mint did not use a mint mark since it was considered the main US mint at the time. Coins from the other mints had mint marks placed on the coin, usually on the reverse below the wreath.

Rarity and Value Differences by Mint

The 1896 Silver Dollar had a total mintage of approximately 20 million coins. However, the distribution by Mint tells a different story:

Mint Facility Mintage Surviving Examples Value Range
Common $25-50 (lower demand)
New Orleans 4,900,000 Scarce $100-150 (moderate demand)
San Francisco
Very Rare $600-3000 (high demand)
Carson City 0 (last CC coins made in 1893) \ \

As the table shows, the mint marks on 1896 Silver Dollars play a huge role in the coin’s availability today and its collector value. This makes properly identifying the mint extremely important.

Finding the Mint Mark on 1896 Silver Dollars

On 1896 Morgan Silver Dollars, the mint mark is located on the eagle (heraldic bird) side of the coin, directly below the wreath near the 6 o’clock position. You may need a magnifying glass to see the tiny S or O letters indicating which mint it came from.

No mint mark means it is a Philadelphia issue.

So when you examine your 1896 Silver Dollar for its mint mark, you’ll know not only where it was made but also have a good idea of its history and market value. 

Overview of 1896 Morgan Silver Dollar

The Morgan silver dollar is one of the most popular and coveted coins in American numismatics. Minted from 1877 to 1904 and again in 1921, the Morgan dollar gets its name from its designer – the famous engraver George T. Morgan.

The 1896 issue is particularly significant for a few reasons:

  • It has one of the lower mintages in the series with just 20 million business strike coins produced across the Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints. This relative scarcity makes the coin more valuable to collectors and investors.
  • There were no proof versions struck of the 1896 Morgan. Proofs are specially produced coins usually struck multiple times with polished dies to create a “cameo” effect. Non-proof coins are known as “business strikes.”

When examining an 1896 Morgan dollar, one question collectors often ponder is “Where is the mint mark located?”

Mint Mark Position

On nearly all Morgan dollars, the mint mark is found on the reverse side of the coin below the wreath, above the letter “D” in “DOLLAR.”

So you would look for these tiny letters:

  • No mint mark = Philadelphia Mint
  • O = New Orleans Mint
  • S = San Francisco Mint

So on your 1896 Morgan, be sure to check below the date on the obverse to locate the mint mark!

Mint Mark Position in 1896 Below date on obverse
Mint Mark Position 1877-1895 and 1897-1904 Above DOLLAR on reverse

This one-year change in the mint mark location makes 1896 Morgans extra interesting for variety of collectors!

Where is the 1896 Silver Dollar Mint Mark Located?

The 1896 silver dollar is one of the most iconic coins in US history. First minted in 1794, the silver dollar has a rich and interesting heritage. The 1896 edition, in particular, has some intriguing stories as it was only minted at three mints: Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

Unlike many other coins, the mint mark on the 1896 silver dollar was not stamped on the obverse or front of the coin. Rather, the mint mark is located on the reverse side of the coin, on the bottom below the eagle, and above the letter ‘D’ in the word ‘DOLLAR’.

The Philadelphia Mint

Coins produced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1896 do not bear any mint mark. The lack of a letter indicates that the coin was struck there. As the main US mint at the time, Philadelphia produced the highest number of 1896 silver dollars.

Identifying an 1896 Philadelphia-minted silver dollar is straightforward—just check the reverse of the coin for the absence of a letter below the wreath and above ‘DOLLAR’. If there is no mark, then you have a ‘Philly’ coin!

The New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans mint closed in 1861 due to the Civil War but reopened in 1879. In 1896, it struck 4.9 million silver dollars bearing an ‘O’ for New Orleans as the mint mark on the reverse of the coin.

Seeing an ‘O’ below the wreath is evidence that you have the lower-mintage 1896-O Morgan silver dollar that is rarer than its Philadelphia counterpart.

The San Francisco Mint

As one of the main gold coin producers, the San Francisco mint was less focused on striking silver in 1896. Nonetheless, it managed to produce 5 million 1896 silver dollars marked with the letter ‘S’ for San Francisco.

While not the scarcest issue in the series, the 1896-S is still a key date thanks to historic low mintages at the S-mint facility. So seeing an ‘S’ means you have a more valuable coin.

Identifying the Mint Mark Type

Determining the mint mark on an 1896 Morgan silver dollar is important for identifying the coin’s origin and relative rarity. Morgan dollars minted in 1896 came from three different mints: Philadelphia (no mint mark), New Orleans (O), and San Francisco (S).

Philadelphia Mint

The Philadelphia Mint produced the highest number of Morgan dollars in 1896, with a total mintage of 9,967,762. Coins from the Philadelphia Mint generally have no mint mark, as the “P” mint mark was not added to coins until 1980.

An 1896 Philadelphia Morgan dollar can be identified by the lack of a mint mark above the DO of DOLLAR on the reverse of the coin.

New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans mint had a relatively low output of 1896 Morgans, with only 4,900,000 coins struck. These coins can be identified by the small “O” mint mark placed above the DO of DOLLAR on the reverse.

As the rarest 1896 Morgan variety, New Orleans Morgans carry a moderate premium over their Philadelphia and San Francisco counterparts.

San Francisco Mint

The San Francisco mint marked the 1896 Morgan dollars with a small “S” placed just above the DO on the reverse. With 5,000,000 coins produced, the 1896-S has the second-highest mintage among that year’s mints.

While common in lower grades, Mint State examples are more challenging to locate than equivalent Philadelphia Mint coins.

Mint Mint Mark Mintage
Philadelphia No MM 9,967,762
New Orleans O 4,900,000
San Francisco S 5,000,000

Mint Mark Varieties of the 1896 Silver Dollar

The 1896 Morgan silver dollar was minted at three different mints – Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Identifying the mint mark location and variety is key to determining the rarity and value of an 1896 silver dollar.

No Mint Mark – Philadelphia Mint

Silver dollars minted at the Philadelphia Mint in 1896 do not have a mint mark. This was the main facility striking coinage for circulation, with a sizable mintage of 9,967,762 business strike 1896 Philadelphia Mint Morgan dollars produced.

O Mint Mark – New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans Mint struck 4,900,000 1896-O Morgan silver dollars with the ‘O’ mint mark appearing below the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse. This O mint mark variety is the most common from New Orleans for the 1896 date.

S Mint Mark – San Francisco Mint

The San Francisco Mint produced 1896-S Morgan silver dollars with an ‘S’ mint mark below the eagle’s tail feathers. Only 5,000,000 examples were struck, making it scarcer than the Philadelphia issue. The S mint variety is conditionally rare in higher uncirculated grades.

Where Is The Mint Mark On An 1896 Silver Dollar – Conclusion

As you have learned, identifying the mint mark on your 1896 silver dollar provides insight into its origins. This small letter has a big impact on the coin’s value and rarity in the eyes of collectors and dealers.

We covered the precise location of the 1896 mint mark, how to distinguish the different mark types, as well as the unique history behind the mint facilities that struck these coins over a century ago. Equipped with this knowledge, you can now confidently evaluate your coin.

Whether you plan to sell your coin, add it to a collection, or research its history, understanding the 1896 silver dollar mint mark location and meaning opens up a world of possibilities with this historic U.S. coinage series.

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