1904 Morgan Silver Dollar Value
Finest Known: MS66+ (NGC) MS67 (PCGS)
Auction Record: $17,625 (MS66)
Image: USA CoinBook
In 1904, the U.S. Mint finally used up the silver it had been forced to buy by the 1878 Bland-Allison Act and the 1890 Sherman Silver Purchase Act. The same Acts made it mandatory to turn the silver into silver dollars. In fact, the Morgan dollar had been invented specifically to mint these mandatory silver dollars.
The Philadelphia Mint had used up most of its remaining Morgan dollar silver in January 1904, and by June was completely done. For some reason, the 1904 Morgan dollar was one of the worst struck Philadelphia Mint coins of the entire series.
The Value of A 1904 Morgan Dollar
This mintage is infamous for bad and weak strikes. Even though nearly all of the mintage is believed to have been melted down (an estimated 2.5 million of the 2.7 million mintage), the coin is not hard to find in circulated grades. Most of the Mint State coins show damage from careless storage. Along with the indifferent quality of the strike, one gets the impression that Mint employees were just glad that they'd never have to make another Morgan dollar. (That ended up not being exactly true. 17 years later, in 1921, one last mintage of Morgan dollars was ordered.)
1904 Morgan Dollar Price Guide
|Very Fine||Extremely Fine||About Uncirculated|
|Mint State 61||Mint State 63||Mint State 65||Auction Record (MS66)|
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
A coin's condition is the most important factor in its value, aside from relative mintage. If a coin of a certain date is in better condition than another coin of the same date, it naturally sells for more.
Assessing a coin's condition is called "grading." Coins are graded on a scale of 1 to 70, with 70 being the perfect score. Due to technological limitations at the U.S. Mint during the 19th century, MS70 Morgan dollars were impossible.
If you have a potentially valuable Morgan dollar, it will likely pay to have it professionally graded by a third-party coin grading service. The two largest grading services are NGC and PCGS. A coin that has been graded by one of these services and encapsulated in a clear shell (called a slab), can sell for a higher price than the same exact coin if it isn't slabbed. The official judgement of a third-party grading service gives any seller the peace of mind that he is buying what he thinks he is.
There are certain characteristics to look for when grading a Morgan dollar. Below, we cover some of the general things to look for at each condition grade.
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 (VF) Morgan dollar will have light to medium wear all around, but all major features will be visible. Damage from circulation, while common, will hold this coin back from getting an XF Extremely Fine grade. This coin will have moderate abrasion on the cheek from being circulated. The edge of the hairline and the hair over the ear of Liberty will be worn, but major detail will still be visible.
The same goes for the cotton balls and leaves in Liberty's headdress. Minor detail will be gone from both areas, with substantial flatness on the edge of the leaves. The high points on the cap will show moderate wear.
The breast and legs of the eagle will be worn flat, with only the occasional trace of feathers visible. The tailfeathers between the eagle's legs will be worn, but visible. The "shoulder" of the right wing will be worn flat. The right wingtip will be worn, with both wings missing fine details.
An Extremely Fine (XF) Morgan dollar will retain most of its detail. Details remain on the high points of Liberty's hair, such as the hairline and over the ear, despite light wear. Some minor detail in visible on the cotton balls and leaves, with less wear on the edges than on a VF Morgan dollar. Folds on the cap have more detail.
The eagle's breast and legs are worn, but show some traces of feathers on the sides. The tailfeathers between the eagle's legs are nearly completely defined. The shoulder of the right wing shows wear, but some scattered feather detail is visible, mainly on the left wing.
An About Uncirculated (AU) Morgan dollar will have very light to barely visible wear. Eye appeal will be much higher than other circulated coins, and it should retain much of its mint luster. An AU Morgan dollar very often has greater eye appeal than a MS60 or MS61 Mint State coin. Any scratches should be light.
Liberty's hair, cap, and cotton balls and leaves should possess full details. All feathers on the eagle, no matter their location, should have full detail.
Uncirculated Morgan Dollars
Uncirculated (or Mint State) Morgan dollars are those new silver dollars that had never left a vault. Either they were stored at the Mint, or were sent in 1,000-coin sealed bags to a bank, and sat in the vault there. They were never paid out and put into circulation before a coin collector bought them.
Unfortunately for some coins, "uncirculated" does not mean "undamaged." Those giant canvas bags that the Mint used held 1,000 Morgan dollars. Since the coins were supposed to go into circulation and get worn, no special attention was paid when minting or storing them.
With these bags being pushed, pulled, carted, and stacked, the Morgan dollars inside were clashing and rubbing against each other. With their large size and weight, it was very common for them to damage one another. This means that there is a huge difference in damage and appearance in the MS60 to MS70 Mint State coin grading scale.
Mint State 61
MS61 Morgan dollars have suffered substantial damage during storage. Scrapes, scratches and deeper bag marks cover large portions of the coin, severely impacting eye appeal. But since none of this damage occurred outside the Mint, it doesn't count as circulation wear.
Many better looking About Uncirculated Morgan dollars have substantially better eye appeal than a MS61 Morgan dollar. For this reason, it is rare to see anyone pay to have MS60 or MS61 coins graded. There simply is no market for them.
Mint State 63
A MS63 Morgan dollar will have a good to sharp strike. It will display a full mint luster and have decent eye appeal. There will be fewer marks and abrasions than a MS61 Morgan dollar, but still enough to detract from the coin's overall appearance. Abrasion and marks in major focal points like Liberty's cheek and in the field in front of her face will detract from the coin's appearance.
MS63 is considered the average Mint State grade for Morgan dollars. Most Morgan dollars are readily available in MS63, with the price dependent on rarity. The large increase in price between MS63 and MS65 means that some Morgan dollar collectors building an uncirculated collection will opt to do so in MS63.
Mint State 65
A MS65 Morgan dollar will exhibit a sharp strike and deep, full mint luster. While a very attractive coin, hairlines and scattered light marks prevent it from a higher grade. Most common problem areas are extremely light abrasion on Liberty's cheek and the eagle's breast.
Like many other dates, the price of a MS65 Morgan dollar is multiples higher than that of a MS63 coin.