HomeCollecting StrategiesJeff Garrett: A Guide to Collecting Morgan Silver Dollars

Jeff Garrett: A Guide to Collecting Morgan Silver Dollars

Jeff Garrett: A Guide to Collecting Morgan Silver Dollars

The popular and abundant silver dollar makes a great addition to any collection


By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of Morgan Silver Dollars and the beginning of Peace Silver Dollars. The year 1921 was momentous for the numismatic world, and 2021 is becoming an important year for the hobby as the United States Mint launches its “tribute” series of Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars to mark the occasion. The first offerings in May were an instant sellout and created a near-feeding frenzy.

Many Mint customers were left out, and the elusive coins are selling for multiples of issue price in pre-release (for an October delivery). Ironically, the new “tribute” Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars are selling for more than their vintage cousins. Now would be a great time to consider assembling a set of these iconic issues.

My love of Morgan Silver Dollars is apparent if you’ve ever had the chance to meet my daughter Morgan Garrett. Not many people would name their children after their favorite coin, but for me and my wife, it was an easy choice. Numismatics has played a huge role in our lives, and we wanted to honor the blessing the hobby has been for us both.

Morgan Silver Dollars have been one of my favorite coins since I began collecting in the late 1960s. After turning professional, buying and selling Morgan Silver Dollars became one of the most important aspects of my growing business. I fondly remember that my first car was paid for by the proceeds of trading silver dollars. I have not maintained an exact accounting, but I can safely say that I have bought and sold hundreds of thousands of coins over the years.

A Silver Dollar History

Morgan Silver Dollars are one of (if not the) most collected coins in all of numismatics. The coins came into being in the late 1870s during a time that is closely linked with Western lore. When some think of silver dollars, they envision Wells Fargo strongboxes brimming with coinage. Morgan Silver Dollars were also struck in the eastern part of the United States, but those issues struck in the West garner outsized attention. Regardless of the Mint, Morgan Silver Dollars have been heavily collected for decades and remain extremely popular.

George T. Morgan arrived in the United States from England in the 1870s, and one of his earliest assignments at the US Mint was designing a new silver dollar. Several extremely interesting pattern coins were created at this time and are highly sought-after by both Morgan Dollar and pattern collectors. The first regular issue coins struck in 1878 were produced in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Carson City. New Orleans struck coins starting in 1879 and Denver produced coins for only one year, in 1921.

Tips for Collecting Morgan Dollars

Morgan Silver Dollars were struck in prodigious numbers from 1878 to 1921. Hundreds of millions of coins were minted during those years. These large mintages and the hoarding of coins, both privately and by the US government, make them easily available to today’s collectors. It is extremely affordable to begin a collection of Morgan Silver Dollars. There are more than two dozen date-and-mintmark combinations that can be purchased in mint condition for less than $250. The affordability, combined with the coins’ large size and beauty, have made them an excellent introduction to hundreds of thousands of collectors over the years.

Even though many issues of Morgan Silver Dollars are quite common and easy to find, the series is full of rare date-and-mintmark combinations. One of the most famous (and considered by many to be the “king” of the series) is the 1895, which is only known in Proof. The lowest-mintage circulation issue is the 1893-S, and this date is highly collectible and scarce in all grades. The Morgan Silver Dollar series also has an abundance of condition rarities. Some dates, such as the 1896-O, are easily found in circulated condition but are very rare in Mint State.

Morgan Silver Dollars are interesting in the range of dates and mintmarks available. Some mint condition Morgan Silver Dollars can be purchased for only $60 to $80. On the other extreme, there are a handful of amazing examples of rare dates that can push into six figures. It is amazing that a very rare date in Mint condition like the 1884-S could have survived in MS 65, yet one recently sold at public auction for about $150,000.

All great coins have incredible stories attached to them, and Morgan Silver Dollars are no exception. The Morgan series is also well known for hoards. The US Treasury release in the 1960s, the GSA Carson City Morgan Dollar sales, and the Redfield Hoard are all amazing tales worthy of further study for those new to the hobby.

Interestingly, there are quite a few coin dealers in the country who specialize in silver dollars. These dealers have obtained a wealth of knowledge over the decades about the series and can be great mentors to those new to the hobby. As mentioned many times before, buy coins with good eye appeal and try to find the best quality for the date you can afford.

One word of caution: The new attention paid to this series has caused prices to surge in recent months. Collectors may consider adding to their collection slowly in case prices go back down when interest subsides.

Jeff Garrett bio

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Rare Coin Gallery


Jeff Garrett
Jeff Garretthttps://rarecoingallery.com/
Jeff Garrett, founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in U.S. coinage — and knowledge lies at the foundation of Jeff’s numismatic career. With more than 35 years of experience, he is one of the top experts in numismatics. The “experts’ expert,” Jeff has personally bought and sold nearly every U.S. coin ever issued. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call on Jeff Garrett for numismatic advice. This includes many of the nation’s largest coin dealers, publishers, museums, and institutions. In addition to owning and operating Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Jeff Garrett is a major shareholder in Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries. His combined annual sales in rare coins and precious metals — between Mid-American in Kentucky and Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries in Florida — total more than $25 million. Jeff Garrett has authored many of today’s most popular numismatic books, including Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795–1933: Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues; 100 Greatest U.S. Coins; and United States Coinage: A Study By Type. He is also the price editor for The Official Redbook: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Jeff was also one of the original coin graders for the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He is today considered one of the country’s best coin graders and was the winner of the 2005 PCGS World Series of Grading. Today, he serves as a consultant to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the world’s largest coin grading company. Jeff plays an important role at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Department and serves as a consultant to the museum on funding, exhibits, conservation, and research. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff and many others, rare U.S. coins are once again on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. Jeff has been a member of the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. He has also served as the ANA President and as a member of the ANA Board of Governors.

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  1. True the u.s. Morgan Silver Dollar is the most popular coin collected today. However the Chinese counterfeiters are now making the counterfeits in all different dates and mintmarks out of Brass or Copper-Nickel alloy which is non magnetic and silver plating them.i have examined over three hundred of these in the last 60 days. The Chinese are not only trying to destroy our economy but our collecting interests..

    • Also if it has a mint mark it will be on the back of your coin at the bottom of the wreath and above the D-O spelled in DOLLAR… if no mint mark is found there., then it is a Philadelphia minted coin..,,unless it’s a 1921 Peace dollar

  2. It was probably minted at the Philadelphia mint. Early coinage as far as I know were minted in Philadelphia and the mint mark was left off.
    I am not a professional collector but I have been collecting off and on for 40yrs

  3. Great article. But let’s put the prices in perspective. The new “tribute” Morgan Dollar. Although the mint states it is a continuation of the series. Then, 1921 is also a “Tribute”. Let’s talk about pricing. A 1921 morgan dollar in ms69/70 does not exist. But a ms 67 1921 does exist. Prices are $15,000 – $25,000 (see price book). So I can get a ms 69 or 70 2021 Morgan Dollar for about $1,000. graded ms70. $250+- in OGP. It appears to me (depending on the mintage numbers) that the new Morgan dollars are a “bargain”. Compare apples to apples. Condition to condition, etc. Pick them up while you can.. Thank you U.S. Mint for a cool coin!!!

  4. Go to a coin dealer you trust. If you don’t know any I’d get at least 5 bids in person, get to know what you have, as in how good the grade is and how rare that coin is in that grade. If you have a high dollar coin you may benefit from getting it graded by PGCS or NGC. After your research you will have a good idea of what you can get for them online.

  5. I have 21 years buying and selling Morgan Silver Dollars. I joined the American Numismatic Society with Headquarters and Museum in Colorado Springs,CO at a show in Charlotte, NC. For beginners go to the local book store and buy the History of Morgan Silver Dollars book and The Redbook coin price guide (Red Color Book). ANA website is Money.org
    Having traveled the world meeting outstanding dealers learn first before visiting a coin shop. Never go to pawn shops!

    • Hi Denis! Thanks for your insight on Morgan Dollars. I have dabbled with investing in them here and there. But I sell them on eBay. And the fees are high for selling. So I have to ask more, than the PCGS guide shows for them. I have 2 comments below. If you have time,, can you read them and tell me what you think?



  6. Does any one here know a good place to start looking for Vatican coins?I have been collecting for years all American and Canadian coins but recently heard that the Vatican mints there own coins and it made me very interested.Not sure I want to buy off internet when I know so little about these coins.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  7. Hi! I’m new here. Been collecting coins, stamps, medals, etc, since I was a teenager. I’m 60 now, lol. I like Morgan’s for investment. But I have been studying dates that are Rare in MS. So, I was thinking about those in XF40 to AU58. WHich are now getting more expensive, due to the high price of an MS60, or higher. Here are the dates I picked:

    1883 S
    1884 S
    1886 O
    1896 S
    1896 O
    1897 O
    1903 S
    1904 S

    What do you all think about these in XF40 – AU58?



    • I have had the 1897 O in PCGS MS61 and the 1895 S in PCGS XF45. But had to sell them. They were some nice ones.



  8. you sound like me i,m about to be 59 and disabled I have a large lot of coins i bought at a coin dealer and the new ones i have 3 ms 70 of each but i need to have my collection taken to ngc and get a proper accounting and grade


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