1884 S Morgan Silver Dollar: A Collector’s Guide

1884 S Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar is a valuable piece for collectors. Its unique history and rarity make it stand out in the Morgan Dollar series. This guide explores its history, specifications, design, rarity, condition, and value.

History of 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar holds a unique place in numismatic history due to its rarity and the circumstances surrounding its distribution. Unlike many other Morgan dollars that were stored in government vaults and released later, the majority of the 3,200,000 coins struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1884 were placed into circulation almost immediately.

By 1884, the federal government’s backlog of undistributed Morgan silver dollars had become so overwhelming that President Chester Arthur commented on the excess. He noted, “We made 185 million, and only 40 million are out,” highlighting the immense quantities of silver dollars minted since 1878. These coins, stored in vaults, were largely unwanted and unneeded in contemporary commerce. This surplus proved beneficial for future collectors, as many coins remained in mint condition, provided they survived the mass melting under the 1918 Pittman Act.

However, the 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar followed a different path. Most of the coins were used in everyday transactions during the 19th century, making circulated grades more common today. Those that were stored were likely included in the millions of silver dollars melted under the Pittman Act. Some survived and were released in limited quantities from the Treasury Department and San Francisco Mint between the 1930s and 1950s. Unfortunately, these releases were too early to attract significant attention from collectors, leading many of these coins to enter commercial channels, including use in casinos.

By the 1950s and 1960s, the rarity of the 1884-S in true Mint State condition became more widely recognized. Few uncirculated examples were obtained by collectors during this period, and those that were, often ended up in tightly held collections. The value of the 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar increased significantly in the late 1970s, bringing more Mint State coins into the market, though many were only graded MS-64 by modern standards.

Today, the 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar remains a challenging coin to find in high grades, with truly gem specimens commanding high prices due to their rarity and historical significance. The finest known example of this coin is an extraordinary piece with an MS-68 grade, part of some of the most prestigious Morgan dollar collections in the world.

Specification

  • Category: Morgan Dollars (1878-1921)
  • Mint: San Francisco
  • Obverse Designer: George T. Morgan
  • Reverse Designer: George T. Morgan
  • Composition: Silver
  • Fineness: 0.9
  • Weight: 26.73g
  • ASW: 0.7734oz
  • Melt Value: $22.64 (6/17/2024)
  • Diameter: 38.1mm
  • Edge: Reeded

Basic Design

  • Obverse: The front of the coin features a bust of a female facing left, wearing a cap and a small crown with flowers in her hair, surrounded by stars. The text reads “Liberty; E Pluribus Unum; 1884.”
  • Reverse: The back of the coin shows an eagle with spread wings, surrounded by a wreath. The text reads “United States of America; In God We Trust; One Dollar; S.”

Rarity and Condition

  • Lower Grades: Many 1884-S dollars in the market today are circulated, with enough EF (Extremely Fine) and AU (About Uncirculated) pieces available for collectors. Most of the mintage saw immediate use in local commerce, with the majority of worn specimens graded VF (Very Fine) or lower.
  • Higher Grades: In grades of MS-60 to 62, these coins present a significant challenge to collectors with values in the four-figure range. At MS-63 and above, they become rarer and can climb into the five-figure range, with MS-64 or finer coins valued even higher.

Value Of 1884 S Morgan Silver Dollar

The value of the 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar varies greatly based on its condition. While worn grades are more common, uncirculated coins are highly prized. MS-60 to 62 grades are worth thousands of dollars, and MS-63 and above can reach five figures or more.

According to the NGC Price Guide, a Morgan Dollar from 1884 in the circulated condition is worth between $40.50 and $3500 as of June 2024. However, uncirculated conditions deal for as much as $1250000 on the open market.

Also Read – 1889 CC Morgan Silver Dollar: A Guide for Coin Enthusiasts

Conclusion

The 1884-S Morgan Silver Dollar is a significant and valuable piece for collectors. Its unique history, combined with its rarity in higher grades, makes it a prized addition to any collection. Understanding its specifications, design, and market value can help collectors appreciate and manage this coin effectively.

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