Where is the mint mark on an 1886 silver dollar? Are you curious about old coins and want to know where to look on an 1886 silver dollar to find the mint mark? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, the quick answer is: the mint mark on an 1886 Morgan silver dollar can be found on the reverse (tails side) of the coin below the wreath, to the left of the letter D in “DOLLAR”.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about locating the mint mark on an 1886 Morgan silver dollar, including: where on the coin to look, the different mint marks to look for, how to identify counterfeits or altered mint marks, and the meaning behind each mint that produced these coins in 1886.

Where is the Mint Mark Located on an 1886 Silver Dollar

On Morgan silver dollars, the mint mark indicating which US mint facility struck the coin is located on the reverse (tails) side below the wreath.

On the Reverse (Tails) Side Below the Wreath

The wreath depicted on the back of Morgan silver dollars sits just above the coin’s denomination. Underneath the wreath is a small letter indicating which US mint produced that coin. For 1886 silver dollars, you will find an “O” for New Orleans, an “S” for San Francisco, or no mint mark at all for Philadelphia.

To the Left of the Letter D in ‘DOLLAR’

As you examine the reverse of an 1886 Morgan dollar, look just left of the letter D in the word “DOLLAR” stamped around the periphery. If you see a tiny O, or S in that location, you’ve found the mint mark. If there is no letter, then your 1886 dollar hails from the main US Mint in Philadelphia.

What Mint Marks Might You Find on an 1886 Silver Dollar

No Mint Mark – Philadelphia Mint

The Philadelphia Mint was the main facility for producing silver dollars in the late 19th century. If an 1886 silver dollar does not have a mint mark, that means it was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. These coins would not have a letter designation.

By 1886, the Philadelphia Mint had plenty of experience striking Morgan silver dollars. While mintages fluctuated, it turned out millions of examples in some years like 1886. Without a mint mark, an 1886 silver dollar is generally the most common date and mint variety of this series.

O – New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans Mint placed an “O” mint mark on Morgan dollars like the 1886-O. The New Orleans facility struck over 10.7 million 1886 silver dollars, the highest mintage of any Mint that year.

Because so many were made, 1886-O dollars are readily available even in nicer conditions through Extremely Fine. They normally trade for around $100-200 in Very Fine or better. Some better-struck, lustrous examples exhibit prooflike or deep mirror-proof surfaces, commanding higher premiums.

S – San Francisco Mint

The San Francisco Mint used an “S” mint mark in 1886 on Morgan silver dollars. Only 750,000 examples were struck, so the 1886-S is scarce. Most seen are in lower grades through Very Fine due to extensive circulation.

Pricewise, an 1886-S dollar averages around $175-400 in the VF-EF range. According to the NGC coin price guide, About Uncirculated examples sell for $2,250-3,000+. So a well-struck AU coin could be a solid long-term investment from this mint.

Tips for Checking Authenticity of Mint Marks

Look for Signs of Alteration

Carefully inspect the mint mark for any signs that it has been modified, added, or enhanced to make a coin appear more valuable than it actually is. Subtle alterations like using a needle to add an extra mint mark line or touching up worn areas should raise red flags.

Compare the mint mark borders to the other design elements on the coin – if the borders look substantially different in terms of wear, relief, color, etc., that can indicate a possible alteration.

Use a Magnifying Glass for Close Inspection

Examine the mint mark under at least 10x magnification to check that the mark conforms to the proper specifications: the mint mark should be recessed into the coin’s surface, with clearly defined borders, consistent depth and angularity relative to the coin surface, proper alignment with coin orientation, and wear/toning consistent with the rest of the coin’s features.

An improperly added mint mark will often sit more flush with the surface or have indistinct borders under magnification. You can reference mint mark specifications at websites like NGC Coin Explorer while inspecting an 1886 Morgan dollar.

Compare to Images of Authentic Examples

Finding comparison images of authenticated 1886 Morgan dollars with mint marks from the Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco mints can help give a reference point of what the real deal should look like.

While each coin will show differing degrees of wear and toning, you’ll start to get an eye for the proper mint mark size, placement, borders, etc. Some fantastic online resources are the PCGS CoinFacts library and NGC pages showing images of certified Morgan dollars grouped by date/mint.

Mint Mintage Survival Estimate (uncirculated)
Philadelphia 19,963,886 ~250,000
New Orleans 10,710,000 ~22,000
San Francisco 750,000 ~8,000

As you can see from the data above, San Francisco 1886 Morgans had by far the lowest original mintage numbers, making uncirculated survivors extraordinarily scarce and valuable compared to their counterparts from the other three mints.

So be wary of potential mint mark alterations designed to boost value on more common Philadelphia and New Orleans issues.

With careful inspection under magnification, diligent comparison to authenticated specimens, and taking note of mintage information, you should be able to accurately assess the authenticity of mint marks on 1886 Morgan silver dollars.

Just take your time, arm yourself with great data resources, and inspect/cross-reference/compare every detail thoroughly.

The Significance of the Different Mints for 1886 Silver Dollars

The Philadelphia Mint – Highest Mintage

The Philadelphia Mint produced over 19.9 million 1886 Morgan silver dollars – easily the highest number among the four facilities that made these coins that year. As the nation’s main coin manufacturing facility at the time, Philadelphia churned out 1886 Morgans in huge quantities to meet demand.

The New Orleans Mint – Low Mintage

The New Orleans Mint had a relatively good output of 10,710,000 1886 Morgan dollars. This southern branch mint historically had lower mintages for many issues. Today, New Orleans 1886 Morgans are moderately scarce and popular with collectors looking for less common dates.

The San Francisco Mint – Scarce

With a total production of 790,000, the 1886-S Morgan is considered one of the scarcer San Francisco Mint issues of the series. 

Where Is The Mint Mark On An 1886 Silver Dollar – Conclusion

Now that you know exactly where to look on an 1886 silver dollar for the mint mark and what letter codes you might come across, you can start examining any examples you come across with greater confidence.

Be sure to inspect all mint marks closely and look out for signs of alteration. Happy treasure hunting for these historic coins!

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