1903-S Morgan Silver Dollar Value
Finest Known: MS67 (NGC) MS67+ (PCGS)
Auction Record: $86,250 (MS67)
Image: USA CoinBook
The 1903-S Morgan dollar is one of the scarcest San Francisco Morgan dollars. The total estimated surviving mintage in all grades is less than 150,000 coins! Even if it wasn't so rare, its sharp strike and deep luster would still make the 1903-S a must-have date. Few 1903-S Morgan dollars were found in the GSA coin hoards of the 1960s which ignited modern interest in Morgan dollar collecting.
The Western U.S. used silver and gold coins in commerce long after the East Coast had adopted paper money to conduct daily business. This meant that, like most San Francisco mintages, many 1903-S Morgan dollars were released into circulation.
The Value of A 1903-S Morgan Dollar
The 1903-S Morgan dollar is considered a key date, and its exceptional luster and sharp strike only add to the coin's allure. Bucking the usual trend for Mint State (uncirculated) San Francisco Morgan dollars, the 1903-S is actually more rare in MS61–MS62 than in higher grades.
1903-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 1903-S.
The condition of a coin is the most important factor in its value, aside from its date. The practice of determining a coin's condition is called "grading" the coin. The coin grading scale goes from "Poor" (1), where the coin is barely recognizable, to "Mint State 70", which is practically a perfect coin. There can be no defects at all on a MS70 coin, even under 5x magnification. Naturally, no historical coin has achieved a MS70 grade. Minting techniques and handling procedures before the late 20th Century always meant that there were imperfections on even the most carefully struck coin.
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 Morgan dollar will have light wear overall, with greater wear on the high points. Some minor surface marks are to be expected. Liberty's cheek will display some wear and light flattening. Liberty's hair from her hairline to over her ear may show an overall flatness, but several strands of hair are still visible. Fine details on the cotton balls have been worn away, and noticeable portion of the cotton leaves are flat
The slightest trace of a few feathers are visible on the eagle's breast. The breast, legs, and head show flattening. Major feathers on the eagle's neck are visible. Tail feathers between the eagle's legs are worn, but visible. The leading edge of the right wing is worn.
Extremely Fine Morgan dollars will have light wear on the high points, retaining detail elsewhere. Circulation marks should be light, if present. 90% of the coin's details remain. Liberty's hairline is full, with light wear. The cotton balls have some minor detail. The cotton leaves will show flatness along the edges.
The eagle's breast is somewhat worn, with feathers visible along the sides. The legs also sow wear, but with major feather details showing through. The right wingtip and leading edge show light wear and minor loss of detail.
An About Uncirculated Morgan dollar will display the barest trace of wear. Most of the mint luster should remain, aside from high points such as Liberty's cheek. This coin should possess above average eye appeal. Any nicks or scratches should be tiny and unobtrusive.
Only very light wear on the eagle's breast and legs are permissible. Nearly all feathers should be detailed, depending on the sharpness of the strike.
Uncirculated Morgan Dollars
Uncirculated, or Mint State Morgan dollars are those coins that were never paid out to the public before being obtained by a coin collector. These newly-made coins were either locked up in Mint vaults after being struck, or spent their lives bagged up in a bank vault after being received from the Mint. A Mint State coin has to be free of all wear or circulation damage.
This doesn't mean that Mint State / Uncirculated coins are damage-free. Coins made for general use had a rough and tumble life before ever leaving the Mint. Coins fell from the coining press into a hopper, where they were gathered up, and machine-counted into large canvas bags for storage. For Morgan dollars, these bags held a thousand coins, weighing nearly 60 pounds. As these bags were slung around, carted to the vaults, and stacked, there was plenty of opportunity for the coins to damage one another.
But because this damage happened to the Morgan dollars before they entered circulation, they are still considered Mint State coins. This is why an About Uncirculated coin can have much better eye appeal than a battered Morgan dollar straight from the Mint.
Mint State 61
Mint State 61 Morgan dollars suffer substantial surface damage, including over main focal points. Some marks can be quite heavy. The sheer number of scratches and dings, means that the coin's luster is usually severely impacted.
Collectors rarely spend the money to have such a beat up coin graded.
Mint State 63
A Mint State 63 Morgan dollar is considered an average grade. It will have an average to above average strike. It will have less damage than a MS61 coin. However, the damage will still be enough to detract from the coin's appearance. Some of the marks and abrasions will be on prime focal areas such as the cheek, and on the fields in front.
Mint State 65
A Mint State 65 Morgan dollar has very attractive eye appeal. There is no wonder that this grade is also known as "Gem Uncirculated." The MS65 Morgan dollar will have a sharp strike and full luster. A few very light marks may appear, none on the prime focal areas.