1904-O Morgan Silver Dollar Value
Finest Known: MS67+ (NGC) MS67+ (PCGS)
Auction Record: $39,950 (MS67)
Image: USA CoinBook
The 1904-O Morgan silver dollar was the last silver dollar produced at the New Orleans Mint. The only reason that the New Orleans Mint had been brought back into service in 1878 was to strike Morgan dollars. With the supply of silver the government was forced to buy by the Bland-Allison and Sherman Silver Purchase acts finally exhausted in 1904, the New Orleans Mint's purpose ended.
Minor silver coins would be struck in New Orleans until the Mint was closed down for good in 1909. (Trivia: more than ten million Morgan dollars of several different dates remained in storage at the New Orleans Mint for twenty years after it was shut down. They were all shipped to the main U.S. Mint in Philadelphia in 1929 and stored in sealed vaults.)
It is estimated that only a few hundred thousand 1904-O Morgan dollars were released into circulation, with most of the 3.7 million production run going directly into the vault. These coins were assumed to have been among the 270 million silver dollars melted down in 1918 under the Pittman Act.
This extreme shortage of 1904-O Morgan dollars in any condition, much less Mint State, made the coin one of the rarest Morgan dollars of the entire series for fifty years. This situation was turned on its ear in 1962, when over one million 1904-O Morgan dollars were disgorged from long-term storage at the Philadelphia Mint. More of the coins were later released from U.S. Treasury Department vaults in Washington, D.C.
The Value of A 1904-O Morgan Dollar
The 1904-O went from one of the rarest New Orleans Mint Morgan silver dollars to one of the most common literally overnight. Like some other mintages where nearly all the coins were unknowingly hidden away in government vaults until modern times, the 1904-O Morgan dollar is actually more scarce in circulated grades than in low Mint State.
1904-O 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 most important factor in the value of your Morgan dollar is its condition. Judging the condition of a coin using industry standard criteria is called "grading" the coin. Like many other things, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." By that, we mean that different people, even experienced collectors and coin shop owners, can arrive at different conclusions when looking at the same coin.
This is what makes third-party grading services so important when buying or selling rare coins. Two of the oldest and largest coin grading services are NGC and PCGS. Rare coins that have been authenticated, graded, and "slabbed" in a clear, tamper-proof casing can sell for more money than the same exact coin if it were sold ungraded.
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 display light wear overall, tending toward medium wear on the high points. All major details are still visible. There may be prominent marks or wear on the surface of the coin.
The high point on the cheek will show light to moderate abrasion, and the high points on the edge of the hairline and the hair over Liberty's ear will be flat. There should still be major hair strands visible in the flat areas. Fine detail on the cotton balls in Liberty's headband will be worn away, and the edges of the cotton leaves will be flat.
The breast and legs of the eagle will be worn flat. The head will be mostly flat, but some detail will be visible. All wing feathers will be present, but fine details may be missing. The right wingtip will show wear. The tail feathers between the legs are worn, but visible.
Light wear overall. Nearly all details will be present. Light abrasion on Liberty's cheek. The hairline should be full, with light flatness. The same goes for the hair over the ear. The cotton balls will retain some minor detail, and the edges of the cotton leaves will be flat.
The eagle will show some detail on the sides of the breast, the head, and the legs. Feathers between the eagle's legs should be easily seen, but have some wear. Wing feathers should show detail with light wear on the right wingtip.
Very high eye appeal. Wear should be nearly non-existent. All details should be readily visible. Extremely light wear on the high points. A coin this grade with complete luster could almost pass for Mint State, Any scratches should be light, few, and far between, if they exist.
All feathers on the eagle's breast and legs should be present, with full detail. Tail feathers between the legs should be prominent.
Uncirculated Morgan Dollars
Uncirculated, or Mint State, Morgan dollars are coins that were never released to the public before being obtained by a collector. By definition, these coins have absolutely no wear, and retain their mint luster. They can, however, have damage from being mass-produced and stored in giant canvas bags that held 1000 silver dollars each. Mint State grades go from 60 to a perfect 70 in the standard coin grading scale. (The reason the scale goes to 70 instead of 100 is too complicated to explain here.)
Lower grade Mint State Morgan dollars will show a great deal of marks, bag abrasions, and even deep scratches from being struck by the edge of other Morgan dollars during minting and storage. But, since they've never been circulated they are Mint State. This is why many people don't bother having any common date coins graded if they would earn below MS62 or MS63. Of course, any truly rare coin would be submitted for grading no matter what condition.
Mint State 61
This is frankly, an ugly coin. It is covered in bag marks, damage from being stuck by other coins in the catch bin after being ejected from the coining press, and scuffed up from sliding around in the 1000-coin storage bag. Some of these marks can be disturbingly deep. All this damage pretty much cancels out any mint luster.
Mint State 63
A Mint State 63 Morgan dollar is going to have a good strike with full luster, giving it decent eye appeal. That eye appeal is affected by marks (mostly on the fields) and perhaps moderate cheek abrasion from the mint bags being slung around before coming to a final resting place in a vault. None of the marks are especially heavy, but there is enough of them to detract the eye.
MS63 is considered the median level of graded Mint State coins, and is the most common of most dates. Most Mint State coins purchased are either MS63 or MS64.
Mint State 65
MS65 Morgan dollars have a sharp strike and full, deep luster, earning their alternative name of "Gem Uncirculated." This is a very attractive coin, very few, very light scattered scratches that preclude it from an even higher grade. There may be the very slightest of canvas bag scuffing on Liberty's cheek and the eagle's breast. Overall, a very attractive coin, and a fine addition to any Morgan dollar collection that isn't going for a multi-million dollar "finest known" status.