1884 Morgan Silver Dollar Overview
Sporting an elegant and instantly recognizable design, the Morgan silver dollar is likely the most popular U.S. silver dollar among collectors. This helps bring popularity to the 1884 version of this coin.
The Morgan silver dollar was first minted in 1878, five years after the Coinage Act of 1873 discontinued the use of silver in coinage and ended the practice of “free silver” minting.
Facilitated by the Bland-Allison Act, which required the Treasury to purchase between two and four million dollars’ worth of silver per month for use in minting, the Morgan silver dollar represents the return of silver coinage in United States currency.
Morgan silver dollars were minted until 1904 when a silver shortage halted production. 1921 was the final year of production for the coin and the first year of production for its successor, the Peace Dollar.
Engraver George T. Morgan was responsible for the design of both faces. At the center of the obverse is a profile bust portrait of Liberty surrounded by a ring of stars. In the upper portion of the ring is the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and at the bottom is the year of mintage.
The reverse features an eagle with outspread wings perched on an olive branch and a bundle of arrows and surrounded by a wreath. Above the eagle’s head is the motto “In God We Trust.” Along the upper rim is the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and the denomination “ONE DOLLAR” is below the wreath which can be seen on the 1884 version of the morgan dollar.
History of the 1884 Morgan Silver Dollar
1884 was an early mintage for the Morgan silver dollar, only the seventh in the series, and it was not a particularly prolific year for production.
Silver dollars minted in Philadelphia in 1884 (no mint mark present) number 14,070,875. This location reports the highest number of silver dollars struck for the year.
The second-highest amount of coins struck came from the New Orleans Mint (signified by an “O” beneath the base of the wreath on the reverse), which reports producing 9,730,000 coins. New Orleans is a less common mint mark than most due to a relatively short span of operation, so some consider coins produced here as more desirable.
Next is San Francisco (signified by an “S”), where 3,200,000 silver dollars were struck. High Uncirculated grades from this mint survive in very low numbers.
Finally, 1,136,000 silver dollars were minted in Carson City (signified by a “CC”). Even more than New Orleans, this mint mark is coveted by many collectors because of its rarity.
In terms of composition, this issue is standard for the series: 90% silver, 10% copper, with a diameter of 38.1mm and a mass of 26.73g.
Rediscovery of Carson City Mintages
Although Carson City mint marks are in general a rarity, in the case of Morgan silver dollars, they are much more common than they used to be.
Up until 1964, people looking to redeem their old Silver Certificate dollars would receive Morgan silver dollars, most commonly those minted in Carson City. By 1964, this practice had dwindled the supply of CC silver dollars to just under 3 million.
At this point, the Treasury Department decided that Silver Certificates would only be recompensed with silver bullion, and starting in 1970, the remaining 2.9 million Morgan silver dollars were released and sold to the public.
The silver dollars sold in this series of sales, which include mintages from 1878 through 1893, are often referred to as the GSA Carson City Hoard.
Included in the Hoard were 962,000 1884-CC Morgan silver dollars, 84% of the entire original mintage! The CC issues of this year are still somewhat scarce, and their value reflects this, but thanks to the GSA sales of the 70s and early 80s, these coins are now much easier to find.
Valuing the 1884 Morgan Silver Dollar
Since Morgan silver dollars contain a high percentage of silver, their minimum value is typically their melt value, or how much they are worth to a precious metals dealer. Based on the current price of silver, the melt value of the 1884 silver dollar is $12.64.
However, even in lower grades, this coin is worth more for its numismatic value (its value to collectors) than for its metal value. The numismatic value varies quite a bit depending on the mint mark present on the coin.
1884 silver dollars minted in Philadelphia are the most common. Good-4 to Fine-12 grades are worth between $20 and $30. This is the average range of condition and value for these coins.
- Extraordinarily rare
- CAC certified
- Finest Known
- CAC Certified
- Hardcover Book
- Whitman Publishing (Author)
This increases to $36 in Very Fine-20, $39 in Extremely Fine-40, $41 in About Uncirculated-50, and $50 in Uncirculated (MS-60). Uncirculated (MS-65) coins are valued at $361, and proofs may be worth as much as $2,904.
Coins minted in New Orleans are valued similarly to Philadelphia issues, although high-grade Uncirculated (MS-65) specimens are worth a bit less: $180.
San Francisco issues are worth only a few dollars more in lower grades, but their value increases dramatically in the higher grades. Extremely Fine-40 examples are worth $61. About Uncirculated-50 examples may bring $298.
Uncirculated San Francisco coins are extremely rare. Uncirculated-60 grades are worth $7,272, and Uncirculated-65 grade coins are valued at a staggering $237,542! Only two such specimens have been graded by the NGC, and one sold in a 2009 auction for almost $150,000!
Carson City issues do not exhibit the dramatically high values of the San Francisco coins, but they are the most valuable mintage in low and mid grades. Good-4 grades alone are worth $83.
The value increases to $102 in Very Good-8, $123 in Fine-12, $145 in Very Fine-20, $154 in Extremely Fine-40, and $161 in About Uncirculated-50. Uncirculated (MS-60) examples are worth $213, and Uncirculated (MS-65) examples are valued at $528.
Adding the 1884 morgan silver dollar to any coin collection is something you can cherish for many years to come. It has a history with it and a design that anyone can appreciate. If you don’t already have a silver dollar in your collection these should be a must-have. The 1884 Silver Dollar is perfect for all collectors.
What Happened When The 1884 Silver Dollar Was Made?
Much like today, the world was full of life, and invention when 1884 Morgan Dollars were being minted. Many things happened in 1884 that still impact us today.
Some of the highlights from 1884:
- President Chester A. Arthur, was the 21st President of the United States in 1884 through 1885.
- The Dow Jones publishes its 1st stock index, the Dow Jones Transportation Average. Even today stock indexes are still used and traded.
- Just some of the top songs in 1884 were Oh My Darling, Clementine by Percy Montrose, The Coon’s Salvation Army by Sam Lucas, The Golden Wedding by Gabriel-Marie and Rock-a-bye Baby by Effie I. Canning.
- The next step in photography was beign established when George Eastman patented paper-strip photographic film in this year.