1889 Morgan Dollar: Value and Known Rare Varieties

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About The Morgan Silver Dollar

Probably the single most recognizable United States coin ever minted, the Morgan Silver Dollar is coveted by both collectors and non-collectors alike. Popularity of the Morgan Dollar has only grown in recent years because of the coin’s unmistakable design and high silver content.

The passage of the Bland-Allison Act in 1873 allowed the US mint to begin buying the silver necessary to mint new silver dollars. This act is what allowed for the Mint to begin designing and producing Morgan Silver Dollar.

Designed by US Mint assistant engraver, George T. Morgan, the Morgan Dollar was first minted in 1878, and the series was later ended in 1904 due to silver shortages. After the Mint obtained enough silver to continue producing the silver dollars, the Morgan Dollar made a brief reappearance in 1921, before it was finally replaced by the Peace Dollar.

The obverse of the Morgan Dollar features George Morgan’s bust of Lady Liberty facing left, with the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” above the center. Below Lady Liberty is the date encircled by small stars that follow the rim of the coin.

On the reverse of the Morgan Dollar, the iconic design of an eagle clutching an olive branch and arrows in its claws is centered with a wreath encircling the design. The words “United States of America” and “One Dollar” can be found around the edges of the reverse. The motto “In God We Trust” is found just above the eagle’s head, but below the other mottos found near the edges of the coin.

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar

Image Source Flickr user Northern Lights Numismatics

History of the 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar

Minted at the Philadelphia mint, the 1889 Morgan Dollar had approximately 21,726,000 examples minted. Because of the large number minted, the 1889 coins had the second most pieces produced in a year, only surpassed by the amount made in 1921.

The main reason behind the 1889 Morgan Dollar’s large mintage is because of the high popularity and use in commerce. These silver dollars were used widely in Las Vegas and other casino towns where they could easily be used with slot machines and table games. The casinos enjoyed them so much, that the Morgan Dollars were used instead of regular casino chips for wagering!

Each 1889 Morgan Silver Dollar is made of 90% silver and 10% copper and weigh 26.73 grams. The diameter of the 1889 Morgan Dollar is 38.1mm or 1.5 inches. The edges are reeded, and denticles can be found on both the obverse and reverse of the coin.

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar VAM Varieties

Most dates of Morgan Dollars have some type of error associated with the minting process, referred to as VAM Varieties by collectors. These varieties can make an average Morgan Dollar worth much more!

The 1889 Morgan Dollar does have some very important VAM Varieties that you should look for.

Here are some of the most known 1889 VAMs with descriptions of each:

  • VAM-19A : This variety features a doubled reverse with a die break at the top of the eagle's right wing

  • VAM-28A : Shows doubling of the ear and a date that is shifted slightly compared to a regular 1889 Morgan Dollar

  • VAM-23A : Features a slanted date and several clashes on the obverse of the coin

Remember that these varieties are very rare, and consequently not found on many 1889 Morgan Dollars. If you think you have found one of these errors, be sure to take it to a reputable coin dealer for a second opinion. You might also think about sending it to a third party grader for a professional opinion.

1889 Morgan Silver Dollar Value

Due to the large amount of 1889 Morgan Silver Dollars minted, their value is closely related to the spot price of silver. 1889 Morgan Dollars can also be readily found in high grades, resulting in inherently lower prices compared to other dates in the series.

1889 Morgan Dollars in good condition are valued at $22 while those found in extremely fine condition go for around $30.

If found in uncirculated condition, the 1889 Morgan Dollar can command $40 in MS-60 and as much as $375 in MS-65.

Selling 1889 Morgan Dollars remains a very easy task due to the high demand for the coin from collectors and silver hoarders. Most coin dealers will be happy to buy your 1889 Morgan Dollar at a slightly reduced cost than those quoted above. It is possible to get higher prices by selling your coin to another collector directly, or through auction sites like Ebay.

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