1889 Silver Dollar Value, The Story Behind the Morgan


Whether you’re new to coin collecting or a lifelong coin enthusiast, the 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar value must be recognized and is a must-have for any coin enthusiast. Its significance in U.S. coinage history cannot be understated.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about the true value of an 1889 Morgan silver dollar. So let’s clear a few things up. 

What Is an 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar?

The 1889 Morgan silver dollar gets its name from its designer, George T. Morgan, and the year it was minted. It features a left-facing Lady Liberty on its obverse and an eagle clutching an olive branch on the reverse.

The obverse is where you can also find the 1889 inscription and a border of stars with the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” scrolled across the top. 

Despite an original mintage number of over 34 million, the 1889 Morgan silver dollar is a rare find today. This is because a majority of the coins were melted down as a result of the 1942 Silver Act and the 1918 Pittman Act. It’s estimated that only 15% of U.S. Silver dollars survived.

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar
1889 Morgan Silver Dollar

1918 Pittman Act and the 1942 Silver Act

In 1918, Great Britain was in the middle of World War I. They desperately needed silver bullion to back bank notes.

Long story short, U.S. Senator Key Pittman of Nevada proposed a bill that would melt 270 million silver dollars to be sold to Britain. It was nearly half the entire Morgan dollar series mintage, and it would change the future of coin collecting by sharply reducing the silver coinage supply.

1942 Silver Act

It wasn’t just the Pittman Act that impacted the Morgan silver dollar series. The Great Depression and World War II caused the silver price to rise, and another 53 million silver dollars were sent to the melting pot after the 1942 Silver Act was passed.

In average condition, the 1889 Morgan silver dollar is worth about $40. In uncirculated mint condition, they can be worth more than $400, and proof coins are valued at more than $3,000.

Although silver metal price fluctuates, and currently, a silver dollar contains roughly $19 worth of silver, the many other reasons, the 1889 Morgan silver dollar can be worth far more than just its melt value.

How Much Silver Is in a Morgan Silver Dollar?

Although it’s rare to find a silver dollar coin in circulation in the wild today, they are not a thing of the past.

Today, many coin dealers and collectors still chase these unique coins due to their relatively high silver content. 

All silver dollars contain 10% copper and 90% silver, no matter what year they were minted. For 1889 Morgan silver dollars with a total weight of .8594 troy ounces, roughly 24.05 grams, or 0.7734 troy ounces, was silver. 

1889 morgan silver dollar reverse
1889 Morgan Silver Dollar Reverse

How to Tell Where a 1889 Silver Dollar Was Minted

Although all silver dollars have the same silver composition, the US Mint they came from impacts their value. There were four United States Mint locations that produced the Morgan silver dollar.

It’s a simple process to determine which one produced the silver coin in your hand. All you have to do is look closely just below the eagle on the reverse side of the coin.

There, you’ll find a small marking that will clue you into your coin’s origins. 

Philadelphia Mint

If your silver dollar doesn’t have any marking below the eagle, this is a telltale sign that it came from the Philadelphia Mint.

Silver dollars minted at the Philadelphia Mint are the only 1889 silver dollars that lack an identifying mint mark. 

San Francisco Mint

If you find a small “S” below the eagle, your silver dollar was minted at the San Francisco Mint. This is the second rarest mint of Morgan silver dollars. 

New Orleans Mint

Silver dollars produced at the New Orleans U.S. Mint bear a small “O” beneath the eagle on the reverse side of the coin. 

Carson City Mint

A small “CC” identifies a silver dollar as being from the Carson City Mint. These coins usually fetch the highest prices since they are the rarest.

With just 350,000 1889 Morgan silver dollars minted at the Carson City location, they are few and far between and an exceptional find for coin collectors today. 

The Comstock Lode

The Comstock Lode, named after silver miner Henry Comstock, produced enough silver the U.S. Government built an entire mint. CC Morgans represent the enormous silver lodes discovered in Nevada toward the end of the 19th century.

From 1860 to 1880, the Comstock Lode was a source of more silver and gold than all the other mines in the U.S. combined. Carson city morgan dollars in average grades are still worth hundreds of dollars.

The crazy story of how silver was discovered and mined in Virginia City, Nevada. Giving birth to the Carson City U.S. Mint.

Evaluating the 1889 Silver Dollar Value

Morgan silver dollars have a face value of just one dollar, but their actual market value corresponds more closely with the current silver spot price.

As the value of silver fluctuates, so does the general value of silver coins. However, the deciding factors of a specific coin’s value are its condition and the presence of any errors. 

Condition 

Like most collectible items, coins have a grading system to determine what condition they are in. Below are the four most common grades you will run across while growing your coin collection. 

Good

This is the lowest grade that most collectors are willing to settle for. Coins in this category have been in circulation for years and show extensive signs of wear.

They are in poor condition and may even be heavily damaged. If you are ever lucky enough to find a silver dollar in the wild, it will probably fall under this category. Details may be hard to make out, but as long as the coin isn’t totally wrecked, it can be salvaged as a collectible. 

Unfortunately, anything graded below good doesn’t have much value for coin dealers and collectors. 

Fine

Coins in this category are in decent overall shape and have significantly less damage than “good” coins. However, they still show signs of wear and are not totally perfect.

Extra Fine

For a coin to be considered extra fine, it must be free of any signs of wear or damage besides a very light scratch or two. 

Uncirculated 

Uncirculated coins are as close to mint condition as they come and are the hardest to find. These coins graded in high grades have never been in circulation and therefore show no signs of usage.

Uncirculated condition coins still possess their bright and shiny luster from the day they were created and fetch the highest prices at auction. 

Errors

Every coin collector knows that coins with errors are worth significantly more than perfectly minted ones, and Morgan silver dollars are no exception.

Some errors found on 1889 Morgan silver dollars include a die break at the top of the eagle’s right-wing, a slightly shifted date, ear doubling, and clashes on the obverse. 

How Much Are 1889 Silver Dollars Worth?

Silver dollars can be worth anywhere between $25 and tens of thousands of dollars – even hundreds of thousands. But the exact value of a silver dollar will depend on its condition and what mint it came from.

The mint mark is significant because it indicates how rare or how common a coin is by the production numbers from a particular mint.

In general, high mintages are worth less in the rare coin markets. Detailed information on the value of silver coins from the four different mints can be found below. 


Philadelphia – P Morgan Silver Dollar Value (No Mint Mark)

The majority of Morgan silver dollars were minted in Philadelphia, making them the most common, and therefore least valuable, of the four mintings.

Silver dollars from this mint are usually worth about $25 when they are in good condition and up to $46 in extra-fine condition. There won’t be a “P” mintmark, the Philadelphia mint produced no mint mark on their silver dollar coins.

New Orleans – O 1889 Silver Dollar Value

Silver dollars minted at the New Orleans Mint are slightly rarer than their Philadelphia counterparts and usually sell for about the same price for most grades.

However, the O Morgan silver dollar surpasses the unmarked Philadelphia coin when you get to the higher grades like uncirculated and mint state 65. 

The "O" mint mark
The “O” mint mark

San Francisco – S 1889 Silver Dollar Value

The San Francisco – S Morgan silver dollars are the second rarest of the 1889 silver dollars. Coins from this mint and in good condition can usually sell for about $50. Coins in fine condition sell for $70, and extra-fine coins can fetch nearly $90

silver dollar S mint mark
The “S” mint mark

Carson City – CC Morgan Silver Dollar Value 

As the rarest Morgan silver dollar, coins bearing the famous “CC” mint mark sell for an average price of $1,000 in good condition.

Upwards of $7,500 for coins graded as extra fine. 1889 CC Morgan silver dollars are a grail for many coin collectors, with most people counting themselves lucky just to see one in person.

1889-CC Morgan dollars are the rarest of the Carson City silver dollar series.

The "CC" mint mark
The “CC” mint mark

Proof Morgan Silver Dollar

Just 811 Morgan silver dollar proofs were minted in 1889. Prices range from $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars for these rare proof specimens.

Most Valuable 1889 Morgan Silver Dollars

1889-CC Morgan Dollar, MS-68 PCGS – $881,250

This amazing 1889 CC Morgan Silver Dollar was sold for $881,250 at a Stacks Bowers auction in 2013. It’s the finest certified example, graded by PCGS with an MS-68 rating.

The coin was sold from the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection, one of the largest and highest quality coin collections ever assembled.

Louis E. Eliasberg, the former owner of the 1889 CC Morgan, is best known for assembling the only complete collection of U.S. coins, most of extremely high quality.

1889-CC Morgan Dollar, MS-68
1889-CC Morgan Dollar, MS-68
1889-CC Morgan Dollar, MS-68

1889-O Morgan Silver Dollar, MS65 – $84,000

1889-O Morgan Dollar, MS65
1889-O Morgan Dollar, MS65
1889-O Morgan Dollar, MS65
1889-O Morgan Dollar, MS65

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar Proof, PR68 – $34,500

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar Proof, PR68 - $34,500
1889 Morgan Silver Dollar Proof, PR68
1889 Morgan Proof, PR68
1889 Morgan Silver Dollar Proof, PR68

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar, MS68 – $25,300

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar, MS68
1889 Morgan Silver Dollar, MS68, one of four doubled ear coins. The second finest certified example.

Silver as a Financial Safety Net

Silver coins are more than a shiny collection to show off; they are an investment that grows in value over time.

In fact, many coin collectors choose to collect silver coins as a form of financial safety net, similar to silver bullion.

Not only do you get the enjoyment of collecting historically significant coins, you are also building a piece of a diversified portfolio. In the event of a financial crisis, your coin collection can serve as a stable resource to fall back on. 


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