As coin dealers, we’re frequently asked to provide an estimated value of silver dollars based on the year of the coin. While the year of the coin can certainly impact the value, a greater determining factor is the coin’s mint mark, or where the coin was minted. You may have been asked in the past for the mint mark of your coin, and wondered where it was located and how it affects the value of your coin. If so, and you’re still not sure of the answer to these questions, then this article is for you!
For purposes of this article, we’ll be referring to Morgan silver dollars and Peace silver dollars, which were minted from 1878 – 1921 and 1921 – 1935, respectively. Both coins have an image of Lady Liberty on the front and an eagle on the back, but the location of the mint mark (if the coin has one) is located in different areas.
Morgan and Peace silver dollars were minted at a total of five U.S. Mints, including Carson City, Denver, San Francisco, New Orleans and Pennsylvania. The mintage location can be determined by studying the coin. Carson City silver dollars are identified by a “CC” mint mark, Denver silver dollars by a “D,” San Francisco silver dollars by an “S,” New Orleans silver dollars by an “O,” and Philadelphia silver dollars by the omission of a mint mark.
The mint mark for Morgan and Peace silver dollars can be found on the reverse side of the coin. The mint mark for Morgan silver dollars is located at the bottom center of the coin below the wreath while the mint mark on Peace silver dollars can be found below the word “ONE.” It’s common for silver dollars to not contain mint marks, which means that they were minted in Philadelphia, as the Philadelphia mint was the largest producer of silver dollars in more years than not.
Now that we know where the mint mark is located and how to identify where the silver dollar was minted, the next step is to determine if you have a common date, semi key date, or key date coin. Most silver dollars had a mintage of well into the millions, making them common date coins. Some had a lower mintage (one to two million), and are typically referred to as semi key date coins, while others had a mintage of less than a million, and are typically referred to as key date or rare coins.
With respect to Morgan silver dollars, all Carson City minted coins are considered semi key date or key date coins. Other lower mintage Morgan silver dollars include the 1886-S, 1888-S, 1889-S, 1893-S, 1893-O, 1894, 1895, 1895-S, 1895-O, and 1899. The king of the Morgan silver dollars is the 1895 plain (no mint mark), which has a starting price of $20,000 in average circulated condition. All of the 1895 plain Morgan silver dollars were proofs. Most were destroyed and only a handful made their way into circulation.
Even though the mintage of some Peace silver dollars rivaled the mintage of Morgan silver dollars, only a couple of the coins are considered key date coins in circulated condition. This includes the 1921 Peace dollar, which was the only high relief Peace silver dollar minted, and the 1928 Peace dollar. The latter was the lowest minted Peace silver dollar with a mintage of 360,000 coins. While only a couple of the coins are considered key date coins in circulated condition, several others, including the 1924-S, 1928-S, 1934-S and 1935-S Peace silver dollars are considered key date coins in uncirculated condition.
In summary, the year of mintage of your Morgan or Peace silver dollar only tells half the story. The mint at which the coin was produced is the key factor in determining whether you have a common date, semi key date, or rare silver dollar on your hands. Remember that not all silver dollars contain a mint mark, and if by chance you happen to be lucky enough to come across an 1895 Morgan silver dollar without a mint mark, you likely have a five figure coin in your possession. The other Morgan and Peace silver dollars highlighted above also have values that well exceed the silver content of your coins.