1903-O Morgan Silver Dollar Value
Finest Known: MS67+ (NGC) MS67+ (PCGS)
Auction Record: $8,519 (MS67)
Image: USA CoinBook
The 1903-O Morgan dollar was once considered the rarest Morgan dollar in existence. Most dealers and even the richest collectors had never seen one. This made the 1903-O THE key date Morgan dollar, more rare than even the 1893-S.
Contemporary accounts in the early part of the 20th century estimated ten or fewer 1903-O Morgans existed, out of a mintage of almost four and a half million coins. Common consensus was that they had all been melted in 1918 under the Pittman Act.
This changed in October 1962. A small bank in Michigan had started handing out Mint State 1903-O Morgan dollars. Early the next year, a bank in Helena, Montana began distributing 1903-O Morgan dollars. Soon, bags upon bags of the legendary coin were emerging from Treasury vaults. No one knows for sure how many 1903-O Morgan dollars were released in the early 1960s. Some say less than 100,000 and some say more than 1 million coins.
The Value of A 1903-O Morgan Dollar
It seems that practically the entire mintage of 1903-O and 1904-O Morgan dollars went straight from the coining press to the vault at the New Orleans Mint. Even though the Mint itself ceased operation in 1909, these silver dollars laid undisturbed in its vaults for another 20 years. In 1929, they were shipped from New Orleans to Philadelphia, where they promptly went into long-term storage for the next 33 years.
The minimal moving around of the dollar-filled canvas bags meant that 1903-O Morgan dollars generally have fewer bag marks than other silver dollars of the era. Many have retained a beautiful luster. Strike quality can vary from unremarkable to sharp.
It is still considered a scarce coin, with PCGS estimating around 445,000 1903-O Morgan dollars exist in all grades—one-tenth the original mintage. The vast majority apparently went into the smelter in 1918 to be sold as bullion to Great Britain.
1903-O Morgan Dollar Price Guide
|Very Fine 25||Extremely Fine 45||About Uncirculated 55|
|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.
Uncirculated Morgan Dollars
Uncirculated coins are those that remained in sealed canvas Mint bags before being acquired by a coin collector. As a rule, these coins will have complete mint luster, and no "post-Mint" damage. However, when talking about Mint State coins, "uncirculated" does not mean "undamaged."
That last detail is important, because while Morgan dollars often were never paid out (people preferred paper silver certificates), they could still see substantial damage from being slung around in the giant canvas bags the same way bags of quarters, nickels, dimes, and cents were. The damage coins receive from banging into one another is called "bag marks."
No matter how beat up a Morgan dollar looks, if there is no circulation wear and it retains mint luster, it will grade as Mint State. This is why Mint State coins are graded from MS60 (worst) to MS70 (perfect). Because Morgan dollars were handled like any other circulation coin, there will never be a perfect MS70 Morgan dollar
Mint State 61
A MS61 Mint State Morgan dollar will have substantial mint damage. Much of this damage will be in prime focal areas (see "What Are The Prime Focal Areas On Morgan Dollars", above) Many large and small bag marks, and even gouges make this coin unattractive. It is readily apparent when a coin is going to grade as low as MS61. Coin collectors will not waste money having such a coin professionally graded, unless it is a rare mintage.
Mint State 63
Mint State MS63 (and MS64) Morgan dollars are more attractive than lower grades, with good strikes and mint luster. They will still have enough marks or scuffs to be distracting. Some of these will be in prime focal areas. None will be heavy or particularly detracting. MS63 and MS64 are the most popular grades of Morgan dollars. They're nicer than the MS60-MS62 coins, and not nearly as expensive as MS65 ones.
Mint State 65
A Mint State 65 Morgan dollar is also known as "Gem Uncirculated," with good reason. It will have a sharp strike, and full, attractive luster. It will show scattered light marks, with none in the prime focal areas. The eagle's breast or Liberty's cheek may display light friction from the time the coin spent in a bulk canvas bag in Treasury vaults The far higher attractiveness of a MS65 Morgan dollar explains the large difference in price when compared to a MS63 of the same date.
Mint State 66
MS66 Morgan dollars are rare, even when compared to a MS65. They will have a clean, sharp strike. The MS66 Morgan dollar boasts a pleasing, full original luster. It has very few, very light marks or imperfections that barely detract from the coin's very attractive appearance.