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Collection: Morgan Dollar Analysis

Morgan Dollar Analysis

by Joseph Barringer

This is a work in progress and will be completed as time permits.

Here is this authors opinion on each date as he remembers from collecting and dealing throughout the decades. This is by no means a definitive resource but merely a handy reference guide to the general aspects of each issue. There are many fine writings on the subject of Morgan Dollars. If you are serious about Morgans, then we implore you to seek out these specialized books.

Additionally, the author has been dealing in Morgan Dollars since the late 1970's and is therefore a bit jaded in his approach. We must remember, that in the late 1970's and 1980's many of these coins were commonplace including early CC's, 1885-S, 1897-S and even 1879-CC were all readily available. These, along with many others, were all relegated to being termed common date (not the 79-CC).

Joe remembers going to see Selby Unger (RIP), 'The Carson City King' on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn (on a weekly basis as Joe resided close by) where there were always 79-CC's readily available from Selby. He always had a nice selection. However, it was tough buying CC's from Selby.

Joe traded bag quantities of all the early "S", "O" and "P" mints with such notables as Dean Tavener (RIP) and Harlan White (RIP) where he first met both at a New Orleans show in 1981. He spent over $65k (a hefty sum at the time) with Dean alone at that very show. After shelling out what was termed BIG DOLLARS (back then), Dean walked Joe over and introduced him to Harlan White where Joe dropped another hefty sum. Both were a pleasure to deal with. Days like that will never be duplicated.

The amount of gem Morgan dollars available in the 80's was astounding and an opportunity the likes of which will never be seen again.

Later, during the mid 80's (after he moved to Florida), Joe would also travel, on a weekly basis, to see Brian Beardsley in Naples to buy bags or whatever he had laying around. They were such good times and fun too bringing home bags to go through. A few still remain in Joe's holdings and they are beauties.

And, for a real chuckle, as recently as this year, the author was given a strange look when purchasing some dollars at a show from a young dealer. Joe said these are common date (what a look he got). He remembers when such coins were common date and to him, they still are.  :)

There are a few good reference books on Morgan Dollars by David Bowers, Michael 'Miles' Standish and Leroy C. Van Allen if you really get into it. For amusement purposes there are a couple of great little books by Les & Sue Fox named Silver Dollar Fortune Telling. They're a little on the huckster side but the books do contain a lot of interesting info. Joe met them in the 80's and learned a lot from those books back then which proved invaluable. Joe salted the highest quality full strike 1902-O's imaginable as well as key Peace dollars such as the underrated 27-D. At the time, their books seemed quite unbelievable but father time proved them to be very accurate (and conservative based on today's values). Available quality back then as compared to what is available today is like night and day. Today, if you find high quality Morgan's, buy them!

Lastly, no Morgan Dollar library would be complete without Wayne Miller's book, Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook. Pick up a copy if you can find one. Sit yourself down, close your eyes and think back to the glory days of the 60's to 80's when reading these books. Then, after reading the Fox's book(s) and Miller's book, you'll understand how Morgan Dollars can be a great hobby and a real great investment since it shows you the prices back then and predicted future values as well as learning what many of the coins should look like along with their characteristics. You'll come to learn that mostly what is on the market today is not truly up to par with what was available back in the day.

Joe was very fortunate to live in the day when these reference books (Miller & Fox) were first making their appearance. He was able to put a program into place and execute on his knowledge back in the late 70's and 80's with the available quality and quantities of great Morgan and Peace dollars which were readily available.


1878 – 8tf

The first Morgan Dollar. These are usually fairly frosted and well struck. DMPL's are usually brilliant with little to no contrast rather than cameo. Cameo's do exist but be prepared to dig deep. 

One sided prooflike's are usually what is on the market with true DMPL's being quite scarce. And, cameo DMPL's are virtually non-existent. Tough date in prooflike and DMPL.


1878 7tf Reverse of 1878

 This variety is all over the place from lack luster to nicely frosted. The strike is nothing special with well struck and frosty examples being quite rare. For one reason or another these are typically heavily bag marked.

DMPL's were quite readily back in the day but have all but disappeared but still pop up occasionally in higher grades. They were really nothing special; little frost and no contrast. Choice examples that are cameo and well frosted with minimal bag marks command huge premiums. Good luck finding any today.


1878 7TF Reverse of 1879

 These are the scarcer variety with a small portion of the mintage being of the 79 reverse. Strikes are once again all over the place with some being well struck.

DMPL's are quite scarce due to the low mintage. These are notorious for being one sided prooflike's. True DMPL's are usually well struck and with frosted devices. Such examples with minimal bag marks command huge premiums.



The 78-CC is generally a well struck coin with beautiful luster. These were part of the treasury hoard. Bag quantities were known to exist throughout the 1960 and 1970’s. The 78-CC are also known to be baggie in nature. These also exist in GSA holders. The 78-CC enjoys enormous popularity as being the first issue Morgan Dollar and commands a hefty price in high uncirculated grades. MS65 and higher.

Deep Mirror Prooflike's command huge prices as do MS66's and 67's if you can find one.



A Redfield date.

The 78-S is a common date but the most elusive among them as it is the scarcest of the early common “S” (1878-1882) mints. These are well struck and usually frosty. Great looking coins.

DMPL's can be elusive and many are one sided. There are scores in AU or slider grade. MS65 and higher grade are beautiful coins.



Bag marks on the 79-P are usually very heavy and certainly afflict most of the available coin on the market. Therefore, gems are elusive and command hefty pricing. Strike definition is an inherent issue on most “P” mints and the 79 is no exception. Try to find these with hairlines above the ear and with breast feather in MS65 or higher. This is surely a daunting task.

True DMPL's are scarce and many are one sided. Finding high grade prooflikes is almost impossible. This date was very common in the 60’s and 70’s as bag quantities existed but have since been dispersed.

I believe Ivy (if I'm not mistaken) had rolls of these available in the late 70's. What a time for Morgans!



The author has a love/hate relationship with this date. He purchased many, many 79-CC’s in the 1980’s but finding high grades with minimal bag marks was always nearly impossible. Sometimes very frosty but bag marks keep many of them out of the gem category.

DMPL's exist but once again, most all are baggy. Gems are uncommon and command hefty prices. Bag marks are plentiful within this date. 1879-CC was also available in the GSA sale (thousands) as well as a several hundred in the Redfield hoard.



For an “O” mint the 79 is generally fairly well struck but as usual many are weakly struck most notably in the hairlines above the ear and on the breast feathers. Bags of this date were release in the 1960’s but nowhere near the quantities of the 83-O - 85-O’s. Prooflike's and deep mirror prooflike's are scarce. This coin is plentiful in circulated grades and especially AU or slider uncs.


1879-S Reverse of 1878

A Redfield date.

The author loves this variety!

These are a very scarce coin. This coin was in the Redfield hoard and is said to have had several thousand. No one knows for sure how many were minted but by the elusiveness through the years are a telltale sign that not many survived in higher grade uncirculated examples. Bag marks are plentiful (heavily bag marked!) on this issue and finding gem MS63, 64 and 65’s can be frustrating.

Prooflike's and DMPL’s do exist but are rare and seldom appear on today's market. When they do and are attractive, be prepared to throw away all the price guides!


1879-S Reverse of 1879

A Redfield date.

This is one of the most common of all the early “S” mints (1878-1882) but far less common than the 80-S and 81-s. These are all well struck and frosty examples are plentiful.

Prooflike's and DMPL’s are more common but high grades are difficult but are plentiful. Many are also cameo prooflike's. Many bags of coins (hundreds of thousands) were released in the early 60’s as part of the treasury hoard. Even with this large quantity on the market most of which have been dispersed, it’s still a popular issue especially in MS65 and higher grades. Always popular due to the luster and bold strikes. Great date.



This date was fairly common back in the day as it had a very high mintage so finding gems was not all that difficult although finding a fully struck specimen can be difficult. This includes hair above the ear.

At one time these were around but Prooflike's & DMPL's can be difficult to find today in higher grades. Most are cameo and well struck if and when you can find one.


1880-CC Reverse of 1878

This is the scarcer of the two varieties of the breast. Weak strikes are abundant; very abundant. Luster is generally very nice.

Prooflike's & DMPL's of this variety are very, very scarce.


1880-CC Reverse of 1879

This date can be very annoying due to weak strikes. Finding a fully struck specimen is extremely difficult. Most are all flatly struck especially the hairlines above the ear which are non-existent. There are many beautiful MS65’s out there but most lack hairline definition. The luster on these coins is generally very nice.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are available but not all that regularly any more and never really were.



Another favorite of the author.

For an “O” mint dollar the 1880-O seems to be better struck than most other “O” mints. However, there are many, many soft strikes which seem to be commonplace today. This date has always been more difficult to locate in gem condition. Luster on these is mediocre.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are virtually non-existent in high grades. A highly sought-after issue.



A Redfield date.

This is the 2nd most common Morgan. Strike and luster are excellent and are available in high grade.

Fairly common in Deep prooflike's and very frosty. Gems are truly beautiful. Always sought after by collectors and investors.



Strike on the 81-P varies like most “P” mints from well struck to average with little hair definition above the ear and on the eagle’s breast. Struck in large quantities and finding superb pieces can be a challenge in today’s marketplace.

Prooflike' & DMPL's are elusive and quite rare in high grades.



This is generally considered the finest struck of all “CC” Morgan Dollars due to small quantities struck with each die. The luster is generally superb and frosty.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are available but can be elusive in today’s marketplace. The author believes this date in DMPL is most certainly underrated.



We have found that this is, was and will always be one of the ugliest Morgan's to find in gem condition. Generally weakly struck and with heavy bag marks thus finding gems can be a frustrating task.

Prooflike's & DMPL's suffer from the same fate; weakly struck and heavily bag marked. When gems are found expect to pay a premium. If you don't we will. Remember, there are many prooflike's with light circulation but appear uncirculated.



A Redfield date

Here we are at the most common (other than the 21’s) and best struck Morgan issue. The 81-S is plentiful in high grade and prooflike's. When we encounter an MS68 it’s usually an 81-S. Even though this is a common date, they are highly desirable and sought after by collectors and investors due to the superb strike and frost.

Prooflike's and DMPL's are always available and many are magnificent frosty cameo's. These cameo's command hefty premiums. Do not pass on these gems as one day in the not to distant future these will be much scarcer than they are today. If you're young, put some away. You won't regret it.



Like most “P” mints, the strike varies significantly from weak to fully struck. However, fully struck specimens are indeed rare and elusive. Frosty examples are available but bag marks tend to be rather heavy.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are scarce and rarely encountered despite the large mintage.



Overall a well struck coin with frosty and lustrous surfaces. Over 600,000 were released in the Treasury hoard thus stigmatizing the issue. All have since been widely dispersed and price escalation should now take place as even this common issue is relatively difficult to find in gem condition.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are usually very nice with deep mirrors and frosty devices. Pretty coins.



This issue is plentiful and had wide circulation. As such many 'sliders' exist. Fully struck examples do exist and are definitely worth a premium. Frosty coins are rarely encountered.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are available and come in frosty condition with deep mirrors. Exercise caution as some PL's are passed off as DMPL's.



This date is destined to become a scarcer issue among the early "S" mints to take it rightful side by the 78-S and 79-S as people begin to understand it being scarcer. These are usually well struck with beautiful luster. Salt some away.

Prooflike's & DMPL's are also available as brilliant and cameo's but disappearing from the marketplace especially the cameo's. Put them away my friends. These are worth a premium.



Huge mintage and many poorly struck specimens. Nothing special about this issue. When gems are found snap them up.

Prooflike's and DMPL's are available in gem frosty cameo's with deep mirrors but be prepared to step up to the plate. Todays price levels seem cheap. Mediocre example are just that and not worth reaching out for them.



The most readily available and most common in gem condition with frosty devices and light bag marks. Sock a few away as these gemmy coins are definitely disappearing from the marketplace.

Prooflike's and DMPL's  once again are available. However these are also becoming scarcer as years go by and are put into collections and vaults never to see daylight for decades. Buy these and don't be bashful to pay a premium if you encounter a gem cameo DMPL. You'll thank us.





 A Redfield date.























 A Redfield date.







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 A Redfield date.









 A Redfield date.









 A Redfield date.





 A Redfield date.





 A Redfield date.



 A Redfield date.



 A Redfield date.





 A Redfield date.





















 A Redfield date.







 A Redfield date.







 A Redfield date.







 A Redfield date.







 A Redfield date.












A Redfield date.



















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