There is no such thing as a readily available 1893 Morgan dollar. By that time, vaults at the Treasury were already bulging with silver dollars. The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act meant that there would be virtually no new silver from which to make additional dollars.
This was welcome news for the Mint, since for years it had been striking silver dollars for which there was no commercial need. Decreases in mintage were immediate and dramatic.
The 1893-S, at just 100,000, was the lowest-mintage Morgan of that year, and it remains the focus of many collectors today. However, dollars of that year from the other mints also deserve attention, including the 1893.
Delivery figures suggest that something was going on, as 200,000 examples of the 1893 were delivered in January, followed by 150,000 in February and an additional 28,000 in April, for a total of 378,000. That was it; no additional business strikes were produced.
With its lower-than-average mintage, the 1893 Morgan dollar was destined to be a better date. But there is very little known about releases of the 1893 in the following years. Some worn examples exist, and a logical assumption is that they were released around 1893. However, it is also possible that these worn coins were released at a later date and never discovered by collectors or dealers.
The general feeling is that there were examples of the 1893 in circulation. But with virtually no Morgan dollar collectors, worn examples would have attracted little attention. Even an original bag would have been of relatively low interest.
A number of 1893 Morgan dollar bags were released in the 1950s and early 1960s. There is no known total, but author Q. David Bowers points to this in his book American Coin Treasures and Hoards. There were also some bags in the Redfield Hoard. This was a little unusual, since the San Francisco mint is usually thought of in conjunction with it.
By the time of the final significant Treasury releases from 1962-1964, there were apparently very few examples of the 1893 Morgan dollar reported. Although 792 proofs existed, the 1893 is a special disappointment. It has been called “the most poorly struck Morgan proof,” as they are lightly struck at the center. The business strikes, however, are not consistent. There are some that are lightly struck, but others are nice.
Among today’s values for the 1893 Morgan dollar, its $185 price in VG-8 condition is definitely a reflection of its low mintage. But it lists for $760 in MS-60 and $6,600 in MS-65, which is not all that high by Morgan dollar standards, especially if mintage is factored in.
The Redfield coins probably helped create a better-than-expected supply of the 1893 Morgan dollar. Another advantage was its appearance in bags during the 1950s that went to people like John Ford, who were unlikely to take a few coins out and dump the rest.
Instead, it appears that these bags were sold, if not coin by coin, at least to people interested in numismatics. That would have made a major difference in how many coins survived in Mint State.
The 1893 is definitely a low-mintage Morgan dollar. Its pricing, however, suggests that collectors can still obtain one.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
More Collecting Resources
• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you'll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.
• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.