US Coins

Morgan dollars hold steady

Classic better-date Morgan dollars continue to enjoy a robust market characterized by steady demand. This 1880-CC Morgan dollar graded Mint State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. realized $587.50 in a Sept. 9 Heritage auction.

Images courtesy of HeritageAuctions.com.

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 recent months.

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 recent auctions.

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. ¦


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