The Morgan silver dollar is arguably the most widely collected
classic United States coin. When compared to this time last year,
generic Mint State 63 to MS-66 issues have become more affordable. On
the other hand, mid-range Morgan dollars have held up, with some
experiencing gains, even while the middle-markets of other issues have
shown declines in the past year.
Silver was approaching $35 an ounce Oct. 3, representing a $4 an
ounce increase from its price this time last year. Despite silver’s
rise, common MS-65 Morgan dollars have declined in the last year,
moving from the $175 level to the $145 level, with the occasional
example selling for as little as $117 in online auctions.
Common MS-66 Morgan dollars have suffered greater declines, dropping
nearly $100 in the past year. A typical 1881-S Morgan dollar in MS-66
realized $250 in a Sept. 27 eBay auction. Some toned examples can sell
at auction for just a bit more than $200.
MS-67 pieces, which didn’t experience the early 2011 run-up in
prices of generic Mint State Morgan dollars, have fallen from the $700
level to the $650 level.
A possible cause of this decline for generic dollar values in the
past year (in spite of rising silver prices) has been a generally dull
gold market over the past several months. Gold’s recent surge may
again bring attention (and money) to generic Morgan dollars.
A bright spot in the market can be found in Carson City Mint
dollars, which have seen gains in the past year. For example, the
1880-CC dollar in MS-63 has jumped nearly $100 in the past year. Many
better issues in MS-63 and MS-64 grades have also seen value bumps in
The 1894-O Morgan dollar in MS-63 has experienced a value increase
in the past year, moving from the $3,000 level to the $3,500 level in
However, the single, one-size-fits-all price found in guides fails
to always tell the full story for a given issue. In MS-64, the 1894-O
issue has huge price swings.
For example, two 1894-O Morgan dollars graded MS-64 by Professional
Coin Grading Service sold at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ March 2012
Baltimore sale. One realized $14,375 while the other sold $6,900.
Part of the discrepancy is explained by the price jump to the next
higher grade. In MS-65 this coin is excessively rare and generally
sells for more than $50,000. ■