Morgan Silver Dollars Collection Morgan Silver Dollar Key Dates
Key-date Morgans are the scarcer dates that are usually more difficult to find. These 90% silver dollars are needed by every collector hoping to build a complete date and mint mark collection. Some of the most popular Morgan silver dollar key dates are listed below.
1888‑O "Hot Lips"
The 1888‑O, nicknamed "Hot Lips", is one of the best known and popular varieties in the Morgan dollar series, discovered in 1962. Also called the "Double Lips" variety, this 1888‑O silver dollar was struck twice on the obverse or heads side. When you look at the coin, you can see that Liberty's profile has two noses, lips and chins. Because the strikes were slightly misaligned when this coin was minted, it resulted in this Doubled Die Obverse "Hot Lips" Morgan dollar variety. It is scarce in all grades.
Most collectors can only dream about the 1889‑CC Morgan dollar, rarest of the Carson City Mint Morgans. This 90% silver dollar is one of the most rare and desirable issues in the entire Morgan dollar series. Just a scant 350,000 1889‑CC Morgans were minted and few have ever turned up in hoards, including the great Treasury release of the 1960s through the 1980s. Many may have been melted down to comply with the Pittman Act of 1918.
The rare key-date 1893‑S Morgan is the showpiece most collectors need to complete a collection but is difficult to acquire! This rare 90% silver dollar is considered the most desirable Morgan ever struck at a branch mint.
A mere 100,000 silver dollars were struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1893, making this Morgan the lowest mintage issued for circulation in the entire series! By the end of January, the entire mintage had been struck. Today, according to numismatic expert Q. David Bowers, only 6,000 to 12,000 Morgans of this date and mint exist in all grades.
The 1895‑S Morgan is a scarce, low-mintage, key-date San Francisco Mint issue. Only 400,000 silver dollars of this "S" Mint date were struck. As early as the mid-1950s, the 1895‑S Morgan was considered rare. During the silver melts of the last century, millions of 90% silver dollars were melted and mintages dwindled further. Out of the original 400,000 1895‑S Morgans minted, only 8,000 -17,900 survive, according to numismatic expert Q. David Bowers. This makes them one of the rarer issues of the series.
Discover how the Panic of 1893 caused by railroad and bank failures and politics played a part in the creation of the very desirable rare 1893‑S and scarce 1895‑S Morgan dollars. To learn more about these silver dollars, read Low-Mintage Period Morgans by the late Paul Green.
Desirable First- & Last-Year Morgans
Collectors prize first- and last-year coins because they mark the beginning and the end of a coin series. And for Morgan silver dollars, the first coins of 1878, not only represent the start of this popular dollar series, but also have several exciting first-year varieties.
1878 8 Tail Feathers Reverse
In March 1878, the Philadelphia Mint struck the first Morgan silver dollars. These first dollars are the 8 Tail Feathers reverse, which were only produced at the Philadelphia Mint. By the middle of March, Mint Director Henry Linderman ordered design changes and new dies had to be made.
1878 7 Over 8 Tail Feathers Reverse
Because the Bland-Allison Act required the Treasury to strike millions of 90% silver dollars each month, and new dies for all the mints would take several weeks to produce, the mint used the new 7 Tail Feathers design to overpunch the older 8 Tail Feathers dies. This created the first-year 1878 7 Over 8 Morgan silver dollar variety from Philadelphia.
1878 7 Tail Feathers Reverse
The last tail feathers reverse design for 1878 was the new 7 Tail Feathers variety. By mid-April, the Carson City and San Francisco Mints had received their coin dies and began preparations to strike the first-year Morgans. This 7 Tail Feathers reverse was used at all 3 mints: Philadelphia, Carson City, and San Francisco.
Morgan silver dollars were issued from 1878 to 1904 – and then, after a 17-year hiatus, one final time in 1921. The Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints struck the last-year 90% silver dollars. And, because the Denver Mint hadn't opened until 1906, the prized last-year Morgans from Denver are the only "D" Mints in the series.