For a very long time, the Morgan silver dollar has been one of the most actively collected coins in the entire United States series. So omnipresent are they in advertising, even many non-collectors recognize them.
Minted from 1878 to 1904 and then again in 1921, one date stands out as the “King of the Morgan Dollars.” That date is the 1895 issue from the Philadelphia Mint.(1) As the one true “stopper” in the sport of Morgan dollar collecting, the 1895 has taken on legendary proportions, ala Mariano Rivera coming out of the bullpen for the Yankees.
Question: What makes the 1895 Morgan dollar so special?
Answer: The 1895 stands as THE biggest hurdle in completing a full Morgan set.
The 1895 Morgan is known to exist ONLY in Proof format. The Proof mintage for that year was 880 pieces, a quantity typical of other Morgan proofs. However, because there are no regular issue circulation strikes to be found today, any collector desiring to complete a set of Morgan dollars has no option for the 1895 other than competing for one of few existing Proof specimens.(2)
PCGS estimates 815 survivors exist of the 1895 Proof dollar.(3) Contrast that with the second rarest Morgan dollar, the 1893-S. Approximately 10,000 examples are extant of that issue.(4) No wonder there is enormous price pressure on the 1895. The available supply comes nowhere near meeting the demand.(5)
According to the Philadelphia Mint cashier's daily balance, 12,000 regular business strike dollars were produced on June 28, 1895.(6) For more than 100 years, numismatic scholars have tried to ascertain if these were indeed 1895 dollars, and if so, what was their fate?
After meticulous investigation, researcher Roger Burdette may have solved the age-old mystery. Burdette tracked down government documents strongly indicating the Philadelphia Mint did definitely strike 12,000 circulation Morgan dollars from 1895-dated dies. Per standard procedure, six of them were provided to the Assay Commission. The other 11,994 remained in storage and were probably melted alongside another 258 million dollars under the requirements of the Pittman Act of 1918.(7)
Of the six examples sent to the Assay Commission, Burdette confirmed only two of them were destroyed. No one knows what came of the other four.
Despite their status as proofs, a surprising number of 1895 Morgan dollars somehow reached circulation; a handful of them travelled extensively.(8) Some of them were thought to be business strikes, but close examination of die varieties confirm they are, in fact, circulated proofs.(9)
In reviewing the value trend charts, the 1895 dollar is one of the most consistent gainers in our entire survey of U.S. rare coins. Exactly what you would expect for the coin heralded as the “King of Morgan Dollars.”
|Estimated survivors in all grades: 815
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Learn more at PCGS.
|PCGS Rarity Scale: 5.2
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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|Last updated 9-4-23
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