1902-S Morgan Silver Dollar Value
Finest Known: MS67 (NGC) MS67+ (PCGS)
Auction Record: $99,875 (MS67+)
Image: USA CoinBook
The 1902-S Morgan dollar was not the sharpest strike by far from San Francisco. Regular disbursements of 1902-S Morgans into circulation from the San Francisco Mint through the first half of the 20th century. Most of these have since vanished and were probably melted down.
The Value of A 1902-S Morgan Dollar
The small mintage plus the toll of time has made the 1902-S Morgan dollar a somewhat scarce mintage. Morgans of this date had a soft strike, so the supply of sharply struck Mint State coins is further limited.
1902-S Morgan Dollar Price Guide
|Very Fine||Extremely Fine||About Uncirculated|
|Mint State 61||Mint State 63||Mint State 65||Auction Record (MS67)|
The information on this page does not constitute an offer to buy or sell the coin(s) referred to. Statistics are for Mint State coins only. Proof and prooflike examples of this issue may have greater or lesser "finest known" and different record auction prices.
Grading Morgan Dollars
The guidelines below will apply to all Morgan dollars, not just the 1902-S.
The most important factor determining a coin of any date is its condition. The modern coin grading scale, called the Sheldon Scale, runs from 1 to 70, with a 70 being a coin with no imperfections visible even under 5x magnification.
Coin grading can be a very subjective art. What constitutes a "heavy" mark? How much wear is "light" wear? For this reason, many coin collectors pay to have their coins authenticated and graded by a professional coin grading service. The two largest third-party grading services are NGC and PCGS. When a coin is professionally graded, it is sealed in a hard transparent shell called a "slab." The coin's name, date, and condition grade are printed on a label inside the slab.
A coin that has been professionally graded and slabbed most often will sell for more than the same condition coin that is loose.
THE HIGH POINTS WHERE SIGNS OF WEAR FIRST APPEAR ON MORGAN DOLLARS:
- Top of cheek
- Hair over ear
- Curls over date
- Top of cap
- Eagle's breast
- Eagle's legs
- Eagle's head
- Right wingtip
PRIME FOCAL AREAS ON MORGAN DOLLARS
- Face and neck of Liberty
- The field in front of Liberty's face
- Body and wings of the eagle
- Fields to sides of wings and above eagle's head
A Very Fine (VF35) Morgan dollar will generally be lightly worn, with moderate wear on the high points. While all major details will be visible, some minor details will be worn away. Liberty's cheek will show light to moderate abrasion, but no substantial damage. The hair on the hairline, over the ear, and the curls near the coin's date will be worn. The cotton balls in Liberty's headband will be missing minor details. The edges of the cotton leaves will be moderately worn towards the center.
The breast and legs of the eagle are the high points on the reverse. Both will show moderate wear, with feathers only visible on the sides. All feathers will be present, but fine detail will be worn away. The right wingtip, being another high point, will show greater wear than the rest of the wings.
The Extremely Fine XF45 Morgan will retain 90% of its detail. Wear will only be noticeable on the high points of the coin. There will be less abrasion or rubbing on Liberty's cheek than seen on a VF coin. The hairline is full, with some flatness on the highest points. Minor details are visible on the cotton balls in Liberty's hair. The cotton leaves will show wear on the edges.
Some feathers will be visible on the breast and legs of the eagle. The right wingtip will show wear, but not to the extent of that found on a VF coin.
More detail will show on the sides of the breast and legs.
The About Uncirculated (AU55) Morgan dollar will show barely visible wear on the high points. Eye appeal should be good. Mint luster, except on Liberty's cheek and other high points, should be nearly complete. Any nicks and scratches should be tiny, light, and unobtrusive. A noticeable number of marks would drop this coin a grade.
All the feathers on the eagle's breast and legs should be present. Only the very lightest of wear on the right wingtip should be present.
A "Very Choice" About Uncirculated Morgan dollar, graded AU58 can sometimes pass as a Mint State coin if the grader isn't paying attention. These coins are called "sliders" because they slide over the line separating Circulated and Uncirculated.
Uncirculated Morgan Dollars
Uncirculated coins are coins that were never released to the general public. In the old days of coin collecting, people would go to the bank and ask for new coins, or get them straight from the U.S. Mint. Even though these coins were now owned by a private person, they would still be considered Uncirculated, since they were never used to pay for a good or service.
This does not mean that all Mint State coins look perfect. Proof coins were struck individually with special dies and handled with care. "Business strike" coins that were intended for circulation were mass-produced and treated that way.
Regular Morgan dollars intended for circulation were produced at a rate of more than 15,000 per day. These coins fell from the coin press into a bin, then run through an automated counting machine and packaged into 1,000-coin canvas bags. These bags were man-handled from the counting room onto carts and taken to a vault. There, they were stacked on each other until the Mint received an order from a bank. They then traveled by truck and rail to their destination.
This gave unlimited chances for the coins to get scratched or gouged by other coins. The result is that the lowest Mint State coins, MS60 and MS61, are not that attractive. They still count as Mint State, since they never were released into circulation, but that's about all that can be said about them.
Mint State 61
An MS61 Morgan dollar will have many marks and abrasions. Some may be heavy. It may have surface imperfections picked up from storage in the large canvas mint bags. The focal areas and high points of the coin will have notably reduced eye appeal. Being a Mint State coin, it will have no wear at all, but the damage sustained at the Mint or in storage will have impaired luster.
It is rare to see anyone bothering to have this grade authenticated, as there is no market for MS60 or MS61.
Mint State 63
The most popular Mint State grades are MS63 and MS64. The MS63 Morgan dollar will have a decent to sharp strike, and full luster. While it has fewer and fewer heavy, contact marks than an MS61 Morgan dollar, they are plentiful enough and noticeable enough to detract from its eye appeal. Some of these marks impair prime focal areas such as Liberty's cheek and face and the open areas on the left side of the obverse.
Mint State 65
With the exponential rate that prices for Mint State coins increase as the grade gets better, MS65 is a popular stopping point, even for well-heeled collectors. (The MS66 1902-S Morgan dollar costs triple the price of the MS65.) The Mint State 65 Morgan dollar will have a full luster and sharp strike for the date. Any marks are small, very light, and unobtrusive. There may be faint rubbing away of luster on the cheek. Overall, this coin has above average eye appeal.