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Morgan Silver Dollars: a Good Investment?

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 at 7:09 am

If you’re a coin collector with a penchant for classic American coins, then you have undoubtedly heard of Morgan silver dollars.  Investors are starting to take a closer look at this coin too as silver becomes an increasingly stable and quality investment, especially in comparison to stock market investments.  But are Morgan silver dollars a good investment for everyone?

The History of Morgan Silver Dollars

What makes Morgan silver dollars of particular interest to a lot of coin collectors is the fact that this coin, when compared to most, has a rich and interesting history.  One thing that makes the Morgan dollar interesting is the fact that it was only minted intermittently over a period of less than 50 years.  Since the Seated Liberty dollar, it was also the first silver dollar to go into production.It’s a coin of much controversy.  Designed by George T Morgan, the Morgan dollar was allowed to be created under the Bland-Allison Act.  This act “forced” the US Treasury to then purchase up to 4 million dollars worth of the coin at silver market value, and the silver was then to be coined into the Morgan dollars each month.

Act after act was passed regarding the silver, which ultimately caused several Morgan silver dollars to be melted down and re-minted several times.  Eventually, Morgan silver dollars were replaced by the Peace dollar in 1921.

A Vast Quantity of Uncirculated Coins

What also makes Morgan silver dollars unique is that a large amount of them were found, uncirculated, in the 1960s.  Issued Morgan silver dollars that were once thought to be rare suddenly became far less valuable as more and more from the Treasury vaults became available.  Large quantities were available to be bought at the ace value of the coin, and eventually many of the Morgan silver dollars became so commonplace that the US Treasury eventually stopped giving out silver certificates with the coin – even though a air quantity of silver is contained in a lot of these coins.

What to Take from the History

It’s important that anyone looking to buy Morgan silver dollars is aware of the history of the coin for several reasons.  One, it will give you a better appreciation of the coin. After all, everyone likes having something with a bit of history, and Morgan silver dollars certainly hold a piece of America’s history.

The other important thing to take from the history is that unlike what some coin sellers may tell you, a lot of Morgan dollars really aren’t that rare.  A lot of them are actually only worth their silver bullion value, and shouldn’t be marketed as being worth more simply because they do have a rich history.  Armed with this knowledge, we’ll now tell you what to look for in valuable Morgan silver dollars.

How to Value your Morgan Silver Dollars

There are some standard things to look for when buying any type of coin which coin collectors are probably quite familiar with.  First, if there is any type of anomaly or something that went wrong in the minting process of a coin, then the coin will be worth more than if it were perfectly minted.

Another thing to take into consideration is where the coin was minted.  If you find any coin that was minted in an area which no longer mints coins is usually worth more.  For example, if you find a quarter that was minted in New Orleans, there’s a good chance it’d be more valuable than a coin minted in Philadelphia, which still mints coins.  Possible exceptions to this rule, however, are Morgan silver dollars minted in Carson City, because they are incredibly common.

Now on to what coin collectors and investors alike need to consider when it comes to Morgan silver dollars: their grade. The higher the grade of coin, the more valuable it’s going to be.  On a scale of what’s most valuable when it comes to Morgan silver dollars to least valuable, here’s how it plays out:

-    Proof Morgan silver dollars are the most valuable (coins that have been “proofed” have been stuck using a high grade minting process which most coins are not minted under)
-    Morgan dollars with a grade of at least MS-65
-    Morgan dollars with a grade of MS-63
-    Morgan dollars with a grade of MS-60
-    AU-50 and lower grades

Here’s another common question: does the condition of the coin matter?  Yes and no.  From a collector’s perspective, maybe.  But from the perspective of someone investing in Morgan silver dollars for their metal worth, not really.

The Silver Quantity of Morgan Silver Dollars

Here’s what the silver investors are really interested in: just how much silver there are in these coins!  Unlike other minted American coins, like the Seated Liberty or the Kennedy Half Dollar, all Morgan silver dollars from the start of production in 1878 to the end of production in 1921 have the exact same specs:

Fineness:                0.90000
Total Weight (oz.):            0.85937
Total Weight (g):            26.7300
Total Silver Weight (oz):         0.77343
Silver Weight per Roll Oz.:         15.469

What you need to Know about Coin Retailers

Buying Morgan silver dollars can be tricky, especially if you don’t know your stuff or don’t already know a trustworthy coin retailer or seller.  One thing that you definitely need to ask anyone who you’re buying your Morgan silver dollars from is how they grade their coins, and here’s why:

Not all coin dealers hold the same grading standards.

This can greatly affect the amount you pay for a coin, or the amount you get for a coin. For example, coins that are in PCGS slabs are worth more than coins from other grading services.  So are NGC coins.  Why?  Because they have a consistent, non-subject standard when it comes to grading their coins.  So if you want to know exactly what you’re getting when you are buying Morgan silver dollars, ask the dealer if they are from either PCGS or NGC slabs.