Skip to main content

Community Voice Responses (August 14, 2018)

From the July 20 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:


Are Morgan silver dollars overrated?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

I think so. I don’t think the design is particularly inspirational (or aspirational). The obverse is basically a curly-headed blog, and the reverse is yet another tired eagle. Probably OK for the time, but not particularly interesting.

Peace dollars, on the other hand, are pretty awesome!

Henry Mensch
Syracuse, N.Y.

What other coins from the 19th century are readily available in uncirculated condition at affordable prices for most collectors? Morgan dollars have a unique place in numismatic history. Hundreds of millions were minted, then kept in storage vaults until the 1960s. There is nothing quite like holding a silver dollar in hand, especially for a child. The heft of the coin, the brilliance of luster or flashes of colorful toning come in a size many can enjoy without magnification. For the serious collectors, there are the VAM varieties to be found that can be like a treasure hunt. Morgan dollars exist from all the U.S. Mint facilities in operation between 1878-1921. The brilliance of an 1881 San Francisco minted coin can be contrasted with those from New Orleans or Philadelphia. The Carson City minted dollars add a romantic charm to lovers of the Old West. The 1921 Morgans are unique in that they were struck from new hubs copied from those in use in 1904 and earlier. It is the only year we have examples from the Denver mint. Morgan dollars are unique, beautiful, available, affordable and enchanting. How can a coin with so much to offer be overrated?

Timothy Scharr
Aviston, Ill.

Yes. Morgan dollars are the very definition of overrated. Most dates are common as dirt even in high grades. One could walk from one end to the other of an ANA or FUN show walking on only Morgan dollar slabs from dealer cases stacked like paving bricks and never touch the flooring.

V. Kurt Bellman
Harrisburg, Pa.

Morgan silver dollars may be over graded sometimes, but they are not overrated. They are highly desirable works of art, very beautiful in Mint State grades. They survive in adequate numbers to be affordable as a type coin for the average collector.

All of the Morgan dollars are over 100 years old, except for the last year of issue. By definition, they can be considered antique. Not many antiques have retained such great beauty after so many years.

Bruce R. Frohman
Modesto, Calif.

Yes, I think the Morgan is overrated. But, it is so beautiful. Maybe the reason it is so popular.

David Donovan
Address withheld

I wanted to let you know that the Morgan dollars are overpriced and with them being rated by another agency will raise the price. As much as I wanted to buy, I will not buy because I’m not going to pay a premium.

Robert Odulio
West Covina, Calif.

Morgan dollars have long been a favorite item of collectors. Visions of the Old West and casinos can’t help but come to mind when even speaking of the Morgan dollar. Coins from the Carson City mint with the famous CC mintmark have always interested collectors. The New Orleans mint, now a museum, brings visions of the Old South during the later part of the 19th century. The San Francisco mintmark can’t help but make one think how many “S” mintmark Morgans were lost in the earthquake of 1906. The fact that holding a Morgan dollar can remind someone of all that history can never make them overrated. Even in XF and AU, these coins evoke interest and are still affordable.

A quick look at a guide shows some Morgan dollars get pretty pricey in MS-65, and only time will tell what effect the recent hoard of the 16,000 pristine Morgan dollars will have on the overall Morgan dollar coin market. Thousands of MS-67 Morgan dollars will certainly have an effect. Then you have to think how many hoards are still out there? I, for one, never thought Morgan dollars were over priced. But I do not have any MS-65 Morgan dollars. Actually, my favorite Morgan dollar is an 1892-O that I would grade in maybe XF-40. I hold it, flip it, spin it, and even like to listen to it as it clanks on a granite counter. I can also SEE it without a magnifying glass. That is a biggie for older collectors. And it will always be worth the price of silver. Try doing that with a coin graded MS-65 or, now, MS-67.

So my take on the Morgan dollar is that it can never be overrated because it is rich in history. And NO the Morgan dollar is not overpriced for new or educated Morgan dollar collectors. Morgan silver dollars and the Henry repeating rifle are American treasures.

Dom Cicio
Groveland, Fla.

How can you overrate a coin that has zillions of examples, many varieties, countless publications, and a reasonable price? Some collectors are of the opinion that, “If you ain’t Morgan, you’re nothing,” which is fine for them but not for the rest of us. Go for it, guys, but leave me to collect what I want.

Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.

I do not think Morgan dollars are overrated at all. They are big silver coins. Attractive. Historical. A big set with many different ways to collect. There are enough “common” ones to go around. They make great gifts. A 1921 Morgan $1 (and a 1922 Peace $1) got me interested in coins.

Ginger Rapsus
Chicago, Ill.

Absolutely not! They are beautiful coins with much interesting history. They can be very affordable while offering a variety of collecting options. These options include varieties, dates, mintmarks, and condition factors. These are coins that some of us grew up with, and we have great stories to tell! And perhaps best of all, the Mint is no longer involved in their production, pricing and distribution!

Story No. 1: Circa 1958, my family took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. On a gas stop in one of the Wyoming towns, my Dad got a silver dollar in change. I was intrigued by the coin because I had never seen one! To the contrary, my Dad had a hissy fit because he did not want to carry that bulky object around in his pocket. Memory fails me, but hopefully I was able to negotiate that silver dollar as an advance on my future allowance!

Story No. 2: Many years ago a friend in the coin business was called upon to do an appraisal for a local bank of uncirculated silver dollar bags that had been held in the bank vaults for many decades. A fascinating story in and of itself, but it actually gets better! A longtime employee of the bank recently told me [and Paul Harvey] the rest of the story. The bank went up for sale. Careful evaluation of their financial statements showed that the silver dollars were listed at face value, common accounting procedure for the banking industry. The buyer of the bank proceeded to sell the silver dollars for the then-current market value. This resulted in proceeds that exceeded his cost of buying the bank!

Max Stucky
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Silver dollars of any condition, mint, grade, or type are never overrated. Overpriced? Maybe. But never overrated. Still one of the most recognized and iconic coin designs ever!

Bret Swanie
Address withheld

They are common as dirt; they were created only to prop up the wealth of Western mine owning plutocrats, so they have negligible historic interest; very few of them were ever used in commerce; and most people who collect them are much more interested in the numbers on the little piece of paper in the plastic than they are in the big, round, shiny thing that’s also in the plastic. So, yes, most definitely, they are.

Bill Eckberg
Address withheld

The sure are. An accompanying article in this issue of Numismatic News revealed that another hoard of these worthless dollars has been discovered in a bank in New York. Oh, great, there goes the value of dollars we had spent a considerable amount of money to add to our collection.

The lies being told over the years about millions of these dollars being melted by the government and/or collectors for the silver content are nothing but that, lies. Those millions of melted dollars just keep turning up in more and more hoards. I think professional coin organizations or companies are intentionally creating this whole fake mess. And anyone who does like that article states about “being excited and get out your checkbooks” is nothing but a fool being separated from his/her money.

Can’t wait for the next “newly discovered” hoard of Morgan dollars.

Alan Anderson
Tucson, Ariz.

Editor’s note: Whatever your opinion of the Morgan dollar coin, 270 million were melted under terms of the 1918 Pittman Act and 40 million more were melted during World War II to recover silver for use in other coins.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Subscribe to our monthly Coins magazine - a great resource for any collector!

• Start becoming a coin collector today with this popular course, Coin Collecting 101.