Where is the mint mark on a Liberty silver dollar? For coin collectors, identifying mint marks on coins can unlock valuable information about the history and rarity of a coin.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The mint mark on Liberty Silver Dollars is located on the reverse (tails side) of the coin, near the bottom under the wreath.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Liberty Silver Dollar mint marks including where to find them, an overview of Carson City coins, the key dates and errors to look for, how to verify authenticity, and the history behind these iconic American coins.
Mint Marks on Coins – An Overview
What are mint marks
A mint mark is a small letter or symbol that is stamped onto a coin to indicate at which mint the coin was manufactured. Mints are facilities that manufacture coins for currencies. Most countries have multiple mints located in different cities and regions.
For example, the United States has four active mints – Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), San Francisco (S), and West Point (W). So a coin with a D mint mark means it was struck at the Denver mint facility.
Mint marks help collectors identify where their coins originated from and are an important factor that contributes to a coin’s rarity and value.
Why mint marks were added
Mint marks were originally added to coins primarily as a security feature to deter counterfeiting. It allowed the coin’s authenticity and origin to be easily verified.
Later on, as coin collecting became more popular, mint marks helped collectors assemble date and mint mark sets and identify rare coins from less common mints. This further increased demand for mint marks.
For example, the 1921 Morgan silver dollar had a mintage of one million coins. But the 1921-S Morgan with the San Francisco mint mark only had a mintage of 548,000 coins. This makes the S-mint Morgan much more valuable to collectors.
Where mint marks are typically located
The location of mint marks varies depending on the type and era of the coin:
- On Morgan and Peace silver dollars, the mint mark is located above the DO of DOLLAR on the coin’s reverse side.
- For Washington quarters and Roosevelt dimes, the mint mark sits just below the wreath on the reverse.
- On Lincoln cents and Jefferson nickels, it can be found right above Monticello on the reverse.
Sometimes mint marks are placed in discreet areas and can be very small and faint, so having a good magnifying glass is essential for identifying them.
On the famous Morgan silver dollars, the mint mark plays a key role in determining rarity and value for collectors. An 1893-S Morgan dollar with an S mint mark from the San Francisco mint has a value of around $3,000 in average condition due to its low mintage of just 100,000 coins.
An Introduction to Liberty Silver Dollars
Liberty silver dollars are highly coveted collector coins struck by the U.S. Mint from 1794 to 1935. Featuring Lady Liberty and an eagle, these iconic coins come in several designs across multiple denominations.
Understanding the history and details of each type can help collectors determine dates, conditions, and valuations.
1794 Flowing Hair Liberty Dollar
The very first official coinage struck by the U.S. Mint was the 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar. With a mintage of just 1,758 coins, these dollars feature Liberty with long, flowing hair on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse.
As some of the rarest and most valuable coins in existence, the 1794 Flowing Hair dollars can sell for millions of dollars if in pristine condition.
Early Draped Bust Liberty Dollars (1795-1803)
Succeeding the Flowing Hair design, Draped Bust Liberty dollars were minted from 1795 to 1803. Featuring a draped bust of Liberty and a redesigned eagle, some of the rarest dates include:
- 1799 Draped Bust dollar – only 15,000 minted
- 1801 Draped Bust dollar – 54,000 minted
- 1803 Draped Bust dollar – Just 85,000 minted with 7,000-9,000 believed to still exist
Finding any early Draped Bust dollar with original mint luster is a challenge. Well-struck examples with nice details can trade for $10,000-$100,000 depending on scarcity and grade.
Seated Liberty Silver Dollar (1840 – 1873)
The Seated Liberty dollar succeeded the Draped Bust design when the coins were first minted in 1840. Featuring a full-length image of Liberty seated, the obverse also displays the phrase “In God We Trust.” This was a first for U.S. coinage later standardized by law in 1863 during the Civil War.
|9 coins extant
|1873-S No Arrows
|500+ coins extant
Key dates among Seated Liberty dollars include low mintage issues like the 1870-S and 1873-S No Arrows coins. Finding problem-free Seated dollars can be difficult and most display heavy wear and bagmarks. Top-grade specimens are worth substantial premiums to date and a variety of collectors.
Locating the Mint Mark on a Liberty Silver Dollar
Reverse Design Overview
The reverse side of the Liberty silver dollar features an eagle with outstretched wings. The eagle clutches an olive branch and arrows in its talons, symbolizing a desire for peace but a readiness for war. The design is surrounded by 13 stars representing the original American colonies.
Where to Find the Mint Mark
When examining a Liberty silver dollar for its mint mark, start by flipping the coin over to view the reverse design with the eagle. The mint mark will be located above the middle feather in the eagle’s tail feathers.
Early examples did not have a mint mark at all, indicating they were struck at the main U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
Mint marks to look for include:
- None – Philadelphia Mint
- CC – Carson City Mint
- D – Denver Mint
- O – New Orleans Mint
- S – San Francisco Mint
Prominent vs Micro Mint Marks
On some Liberty silver dollars, the mint mark is quite prominent and easy to identify. On others, it is tiny and can be very hard to see, even under magnification. These micro mint marks were intended to prevent potential counterfeiters from easily adding mint marks to fake coins.
According to the website NGC, less than 5% of Liberty silver dollars had micro mint marks. The most common dates are 1885-O, 1886, 1887, 1888, and 1889. Careful examination under a loupe is necessary to distinguish a micro mint mark. Great patience may be required!
Overview of Carson City Liberty Silver Dollars
History of the Carson City Mint
The Carson City Mint in Nevada was commissioned by Congress in 1863 during the Comstock Lode silver rush. It was built to facilitate the minting of silver coins from the massive amounts of silver being mined in the area.
Operations began in 1870, overseen by renowned mint superintendent Abraham Curry. For 19 years, the Carson City Mint struck silver coins including Morgan dollars and Seated Liberty dollars until it ceased operations in 1893 due to changes in silver mining and political issues.
Key dates for Carson City Liberty Dollars
Some of the rarest and most valuable Carson City silver dollars were minted in the late 19th century. Key dates that collectors prize include:
- 1870-CC Liberty Seated dollar with just 11,758 minted
- 1885-CC Morgan silver dollar, mintage of 228,000
- 1893-CC Morgan dollar, final release before the mint closed, with a low mintage of 677,000
These key dates in mint condition can be worth over $100,000 at auction for their rarity, historical significance, and iconic designs.
Noteworthy Liberty Silver Dollar Varieties & Errors
1878 7 over 8 Tailfeathers
The 1878 7 over 8 Tailfeathers variety is one of the most famous Liberty silver dollar errors. It features a prominent digit 7 engraved over an underlying 8 in the date. Interestingly, numismatists use the number of tail feathers on the eagle to identify if a coin is 1878 7 over 8 or 7 over 7 variety.
The 7 over 8 shows only 7 tail feathers, while the 7 over 7 has 8 feathers. Less than 500 examples of the 1878 7 over 8 dollars are estimated to exist, making it highly sought-after by a variety of collectors.
1880/1879-CC Rev. of 78
The 1880/1879-CC dollar displays portions of a 79-digit repunched over the 80 dates. It also shows a curled ribbon tail in the reverse design, matching the 1878 style, despite being minted in 1880. Only 2 proof and 4 business strike examples have been certified by top grading services.
This scarcity and intriguing history around a transitional date, mint letter, and reverse combination make the 1880/1879-CC Rev. 78 dollar immensely valuable. Record auction sales have surpassed $100,000 for very high-grade specimens.
The intriguing 1900-O/CC dollar features a 1900-O mint mark unambiguously punched over a CC mint mark. While business strikes of 1900-O dollars are common, proof examples are exceptionally rare, with an original mintage of just 500 pieces.
The unique 1900-O/CC is surmised to have been struck as an early proof at the Carson City mint, before operations ceased there, and redistributed to the New Orleans mint. This special striking is unique among proof Morgan dollars and last traded hands in 2021 for over $660,000.
With so few examples surviving of these varieties and errors, they continue to see enthusiastic demand from Liberty dollar enthusiasts. Grading service population reports give a measure of their rarity.
PCGS and NGC have certified a respective 13 and 11 examples of the 1878 7 over 8 dollars in all grades combined. For the 1880/1879-CC Rev. 78 and 1900-O/CC errors, the services have seen only very few known pieces.
These selections highlight some of the more exceptional and rare Liberty silver dollar varieties where minting errors and anomalies created great collector interest. Pieces like these give numismatists and historians a glimpse into the coin manufacturing operations from over 130 years ago.
Where Is The Mint Mark On A Liberty Silver Dollar – Conclusion
As the first silver dollar coins struck by the newly-formed United States, the iconic Liberty Silver Dollars remain a highly collectible series with countless varieties rooted in history.
Once you understand Liberty Dollar designs and where mint marks are located, identifying rare and valuable pieces becomes much easier for your collecting endeavors.