Where is the mint mark on a Morgan dollar? Morgan dollars are highly sought-after by coin collectors for their rich history spanning over 100 years. If you have come across a Morgan dollar, you may be wondering – where is the mint mark located to identify when and where it was made?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the mint mark on Morgan dollars is found on the reverse (tails side) below the eagle and above the letter D in “DOLLAR”. Now let’s dive deeper into the history and details around Morgan mint marks.
What Are Morgan Dollars?
A Brief Background and History
Morgan dollars are a type of silver dollar coin produced by the United States Mint between 1878 and 1904, and again for one final year in 1921. They were named after their designer, the engraver George T. Morgan, and are considered by many collectors to be one of the most iconic American coins.
The Coinage Act of 1873 set the United States on the path towards the gold standard and demonetized silver. This caused an outcry among miners and others, leading Congress to pass the Bland-Allison Act in 1878 requiring the Mint to purchase large amounts of silver bullion and strike it into silver dollars.
This led to the creation of the Morgan dollar.
Over half a billion Morgan dollars were minted across five different U.S. Mints – Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Denver. Key dates that are rare and valued by collectors include the 1893-S, 1895, 1895-O, and 1921 issues.
Key Details and Design Elements
Morgan dollars showcase a profile depiction of Lady Liberty on the obverse side wearing a Phrygian cap, which signifies freedom. Her portrait is surrounded by 13 stars, 7 left and 6 right of her profile, symbolizing the 13 original American colonies.
The reverse features an eagle holding arrows and an olive branch, with the inscription “United States of America” and the coin’s denomination. Morgan dollars contain .77344 troy ounces of 90% fine silver and 10% copper for a total silver content of .7234 troy ounces pure silver.
A key detail to check on Morgan dollars is the mint mark, which indicates at which Mint the coin was struck. Mint marks can be found on the reverse under the eagle’s tail feathers. An “O” stands for New Orleans, CC for Carson City, D for Denver, and S for San Francisco.
Philadelphia issues do not have a mint mark.
Knowing the mint mark location allows collectors to identify where a Morgan dollar originated. Certain marks like Carson City (CC) or rare dates make the coin more desirable to collectors and carry higher premiums, with certified uncirculated CC dollars sometimes selling for over $4,500!
Where is the Mint Mark on Morgan Dollars?
Mint Mark Locations Explained
Morgan dollars, the popular silver coins minted from 1878-1921, have mint marks located on the reverse (tails side) of the coin below the wreath near the bottom. The mint mark indicates which US mint the Morgan dollar was produced at – Philadelphia (no mint mark), Carson City (CC), New Orleans (O), Denver (D), or San Francisco (S).
Up until 1979, Morgan dollars were the only silver dollar coins minted for circulation in the US. With mintages spanning over 40 years across 5 mints, many coin collectors find completing a full set of Morgan dollars challenging but rewarding.
Photos and Diagrams Showing Mint Mark Placement
Here is a quick visual guide to locating mint marks on Morgan silver dollars:
- Philadelphia Mint Morgan Dollars – No mint mark
- Carson City Mint Morgan Dollars – “CC” mintmark
- New Orleans Mint Morgan Dollars – “O” mint mark
- Denver Mint Morgan Dollars – “D” mint mark
- San Francisco Mint Morgan Dollars – “S” mintmark
While Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans produced coins almost yearly, the Carson City and Denver mints had shorter operational periods. This makes CC and D mint-marked Morgans more scarce. An 1879-CC Morgan dollar with the famed “Capped Die” sold for $10,000 in a 2021 auction.
As seen above, early Morgan silver dollar mintages were quite substantial. Finding a common-date Philadelphia Mint specimen is relatively easy for new collectors. However, snagging better condition or rare date Morgans entails more numismatic know-how and budgeting!
Morgan Dollar Mint Marks by Mint
Philadelphia (No Mint Mark)
The Philadelphia Mint produced the majority of Morgan dollars from 1878-1921 and did not put mint marks on any of them. This was because Philadelphia was considered the main US mint at the time. So if your Morgan dollar does not have a mint mark, it was likely struck at the Philadelphia mint.
New Orleans (O)
The New Orleans mint used an ‘O’ mint mark from 1879-1909 when it produced Morgan dollars. Key dates from this mint include the 1879-O, 1892-O, 1893-O, 1894-O, and 1903-O, which are all rare and valuable coins for collectors.
San Francisco (S)
The San Francisco mint used an ‘S’ mint mark on Morgan dollars struck from 1878-1921. Many lower mintage issues came from this mint, like the 1883-S and 1884-S. The famous 1895 proof-only Morgan dollars were also produced at the San Francisco Mint.
Carson City (CC)
The Carson City mint in Nevada placed ‘CC’ on all its Morgan dollars minted from 1878-1893. Due to the lower mintages, these tend to be very scarce and popular with collectors. The rarest CC mint Morgan is the 1893-CC, with just over 600,000 struck.
The Denver mint used a ‘D’ mint mark from 1906-1921 when it produced Morgan silver dollars. The key dates are the 1921-D, which had a low mintage of just 20,345,000, and the rare branch mint proof 1904-D, minted in only 650 specimens of which only 12-15 exist today.
Checking Your Morgan Dollar’s Mint Mark
When examining a Morgan dollar for its mint mark, the first thing to do is carefully look over the entire coin under normal lighting conditions. Pay special attention to the lower left tail feather of the eagle on the reverse side, an important area to inspect for the mint mark.
What To Look For When Inspecting the Coin
As you visually examine the coin, watch for small raised or incuse letters near the bottom of the feather that represent the mint mark. The letters to look for are D (Denver mint), S (San Francisco mint), CC (Carson City mint), O (New Orleans mint), and P (Philadelphia mint, which has no mint mark).
Using a Magnifying Glass or Microscope
If you’re having trouble spotting the mint mark with the naked eye, use a 3x magnifying glass or a basic 10x to 20x microscope to get a closer look. The letters will become clearer under magnification.
Light the coin properly to prevent shadows and be diligent in exploring the feather’s edge and recessed areas. 89% of Morgan dollars surveyed had at least faintly detectable mint marks under 10x magnification.
Distinguishing Between Mint Marks
When differentiating between mint marks, two tricky ones are the D (Denver) and S (San Francisco). The S mint mark tends to be larger and more elongated on Morgan dollars. The D often appears smaller. But markings vary from coin to coin, so use a comparative image guide if unsure.
Another potential point of confusion is between the CC Carson City mint mark and Micro O “ mint marks on some Morgan dollars. They can look similar at first glance. The Micro O will appear small and uniform in shape compared to the larger, uneven CC letters.
The Significance of Morgan Dollar Mint Marks
Morgan silver dollars, minted from 1878-1921, are among the most popular collectible coins in the world. An important detail for collectors is the mint mark, a small letter indicating at which US mint the coin was produced.
The mint mark’s location and meaning have a significant impact on a Morgan dollar’s collectability and value.
How the Mint Mark Impacts Collectible Value
Mint marks are located on the reverse (tail side) of Morgan dollars below the wreath, either near the center or slightly to the left. They signify if the coin was struck at the Philadelphia (no mint mark), Carson City (CC), New Orleans (O), Denver (D), or San Francisco (S) mint.
Mint marks directly influence rarity and price. The 1921 Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Morgan dollars had huge mintages of up to 44 million, so they are common and affordable. Meanwhile, the 1893 San Francisco Morgan dollar had a paltry mintage of 100,000, so it sells for over $3,000 even in average condition.
Most Valuable and Rarest Mint Mark Varieties
Here is a comparison of the rarest, low-mintage Morgan silver dollars by coveted mint marks and their approximate values in lightly circulated condition:
|CC (Carson City)
|O (New Orleans)
|S (San Francisco)
As we can see, Carson City (CC) coins are generally the most prized by collectors since the Nevada mint had a short lifespan. The 1893-CC Morgan with a tiny mintage of under 700k has soared to a whopping $161,000 value in MS66 condition.
For up-to-date info, see the PCGS price guide. Professional Coin Grading Service is the premier service for assessing the condition and prices realized for rare coins at auction.
Where Is The Mint Mark On A Morgan Dollar – Conclusion
As you can see, identifying the mint mark on Morgan silver dollars provides key insights into their origins and impacts their collector value. We covered the exact placement of the mark and distinctions between mints.
Hopefully, you now feel equipped to analyze any Morgan dollar and unlock details behind its production from the late 1800s to early 1900s based on that small, but meaningful mint mark.
With this knowledge in hand, you can now confidently assess any Morgan dollar that comes your way and identify the coveted varieties that drive higher prices among collectors and enthusiasts around the world.