The 1895-S is definitely not your typical well struck and generally available San Francisco Morgan dollar. In fact, if anything, it is more like the not-readily-available 1893-S. To be sure, it is not as tough as the 1893-S, but there is no disputing the fact that the 1895-S is far tougher than the average Morgan dollar.
The situation in 1895 was one where the sheer number of Morgan dollars sitting in vaults was getting a good deal of attention. As might be expected, Philadelphia had the largest surplus of Morgan dollars with more than 50 million in its vaults, but San Francisco was not far behind with 36,749,500.
Clearly, more than 36 million silver dollars do not appear in the vault one lazy August afternoon. That stockpile had been building for years, as required large mintages attempted to prop up silver prices.
In 1895, it had finally reached a crisis point. The clause that authorized the purchase of additional silver in the Sherman Silver Purchase Act had been repealed a couple years earlier. That meant no new silver purchases could be made, leading to far lower mintages from all facilities.
That was certainly the case in 1895, which saw San Francisco fail to produce a single silver dollar in January. In fact, the entire 400,000 mintage of the 1895-S took place in just four months, with 100,000 pieces produced a month starting in February and running through May.
Although this was not as low as the 1893-S and 1894, which was around 100,000, the 1895-S is still one of the lowest mintages of all the Morgan dollars.
The one thing that was typical of the 1895-S is that, like other San Francisco Morgan dollars, it tended to be well struck with rich luster. The problem is seeing the strike and luster through the bag marks. There is no way to know why some Morgan dollars have numerous bag marks and others do not, but the 1895-S tends to have more than its share.
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The release pattern for the 1895-S is hard to trace. A few bags were reported in 1942 and some more in the early 1950s, but the lack of numbers in the 1960s would indicate that the 1895-S was either released early, melted through the Pittman Act or possibly both.
What we do see today is that the lack of supplies makes the 1895-S dollar a more expensive date, with even a VG-8 at $495. In MS-60, the 1895-S is worth $3,850, while an MS-65 is at $28,000.
However, finding an 1895-S without bag marks that can qualify as MS-65 is a difficult task. In fact, any example above MS-63 without bag marks is a great find.
Over time, the 1895-S Morgan dollar should become a coin appreciated by a growing number of collectors who understand just how tough it is.