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.

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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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