Where Is the Mint Mark on a Morgan Silver Dollar? (2023)

The Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most commonly collected silver coins ever minted. Nicknamed the “Liberty Head Dollar” in tribute to Lady Liberty on the obverse, these iconic dollar coins were struck by the United States Mint from 1878 to 1904, with a reissue in 1921 and a 100th-anniversary coin released in 2021.

One of the best ways coin collectors can determine whether a specific Morgan Dollar is a rare coin or not is to look for the location of mint marks on the reverse. Some of the rarest and most valuable dollar coins have the letter “S” to represent the San Francisco Mint or the letter “O” for the New Orleans Mint.

What Is a Morgan Silver Dollar?

Morgan Silver Dollars are a cherished American coin with great historical significance.

Classic Morgan Dollars were minted from the richest silver deposit in U.S. history, known as the “Comstock Lode.” After the Lode’s discovery, miners poured in from every corner, which resulted in a massive flood of silver into the market. The Comstock mines produced nearly seven million tons of ore between 1860 and 1880.

Morgan Dollars were originally created to benefit the interests of silver mining companies when Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act to dictate the number of silver coins being produced. After its passage in 1878, the U.S. treasury was required to buy two to four million dollar’s worth of silver each month and mint it into silver dollar coins after aggressive lobbying by Western silver miners.

The U.S. government's attempt to use up large amounts of silver from the Comstock Lode artificially inflated the price of silver. Hundreds of millions of silver dollar coins were never circulated and instead stored in cloth bags within government vaults by the Department of the Treasury.

A total of 270,232,722 coins were melted down in 1918, but many Morgan Silver Dollars remained in these government vaults for decades. In 1970, Congress authorized the General Services Administration (GSA) to sell the uncirculated hoard of Carson City Morgan Dollars to the public for coin collecting.

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These historical dollar coins are some of the most sought-after silver coins among numismatists and collectors who want to own a piece of history. They have a wide range in value depending on where they were minted and when they were struck.

Who Designed the Morgan Silver Dollar?

The Morgan Silver Dollar received its infamous name in honor of the coin’s designer, Mint Chief Engraver George Thomas Morgan. He was born on November 24, 1845, in Birmingham, England, where his career originally began as a die engraver for the Royal Mint in London.

Over the years of his legendary career, he designed many popular U.S. coins, including the 1879 “Schoolgirl” Dollar and the 1882 “Shield Earring” coins, among several more. George T. Morgan should be a well-known name to just about all of America’s coin collectors.

In 1876, Henry Linderman, the Director of the United States Mint, realized that the nation was in desperate need of a new silver dollar coin. At the time, the Spanish Dollar or “Pieces of Eight” was a legal tender (up to 1859). Not many more silver dollar coins were required to fuel American commerce.

It was in 1873 that an economic contraction we now call a depression created a panic that gripped the nation. Some members of Congress felt that striking a new silver dollar would stimulate the economy. Before this, the U.S. Mint didn’t make large numbers of silver dollars, so it was an exciting time for the American silver industry.

Is the Morgan Silver Dollar a Real Silver Coin?

The Morgan Silver Dollar is very much a real silver coin with a denomination of one dollar in the United States. There are three varieties of Morgan Dollars, which can be distinguished by differences in the design of the coin’s reverse. You can spot these design differentiations in the breast of the eagle, tail feathers of the eagle, and feathers on the shaft of the arrows.

When Linderman decided the nation would benefit from a new silver dollar coin, he created a competition to create the artwork for the coin’s design. He chose William and Charles Barber, who had been working at the Philadelphia Mint for years, and the newly recruited “Special Engraver” George T. Morgan. The designs created by each party were similar, but Linderman ultimately chose Morgan’s design for the new U.S. silver dollar coin.

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Millions of Morgan Dollars were struck at four different Mints across the country. The San Francisco Mint produced Morgan Silver Dollars every year they were minted. The quality of the beautiful coins minted at the “Granite Lady” in California is almost always excellent.

Another panic hit the nation in 1893, and very few Morgan Dollars were struck between 1893 and 1896, making them some of the rarest Morgans of all. Coins with dates like 1893-S and 1895-S can be very valuable because of their rarity.

Where Is the U.S. Mint Mark on the Morgan Silver Dollar Coin?

If you want to confirm where a Morgan Silver Dollar was made, you can find the U.S. mint mark located on the bottom of the coin’s reverse, just below the wreath surrounding the eagle’s tail feathers. It’s a tiny symbol slightly above the “D” and the “O” in the word DOLLAR.

The placement of the mint mark is the same for all Morgan Dollars, even the coins minted in 1921. If you come across a Morgan Silver Dollar Coin without a mint mark, it was minted in Philadelphia. In some cases, a mint mark can be worn off while the coin is in circulation.

United States Mint Marks Explained

United States mint marks are letters found on U.S. coinage that represent where a coin was made. As the Mint added more locations across the country, it was a way to hold the coin’s maker responsible for the quality.

When the U.S. was still using precious metals like gold and silver to make circulating coins, a commission evaluated the quality and metal compositions of coins struck at the different Mint facilities. This was the best way to ensure that each facility produced uniform coins to the correct specifications.

You will find that coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint do not have mint marks. That’s because it was the only branch in operation in the early days of the Mint, so identifying where a coin was produced was not necessary yet.

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On March 3, 1835, Congress established the first Mint branches and their accompanying mint marks. The symbols we know as mint marks first appeared on U.S. coins in 1838 when the Mint branches in Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans opened for business.

However, the practice of not identifying the silver dollar mint mark for coins produced in Philadelphia continued for quite some time, even after the first branch mints were established. That wouldn’t change until 1942, when nickel was removed from five-cent coins during World War II. It was then that the letter “P” as a mint mark first appeared on coins produced in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Mint (No Mint Marks on Philly Morgans)

The Philadelphia Mint “P” is an iconic facility as the nation’s first U.S. Mint. In April 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act and chose Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, as the location for the first Mint.

The Morgan Silver Dollars minted in Philadelphia can be identified by a lack of a U.S. mint mark on the reverse.

The Denver Mint

The U.S. Mint in Denver was established in April 1862 for coining gold by Congress. Today, the Denver facility produces coin dies, stores silver bullion, and mints various circulated and uncirculated coins with a “D” mint mark.

The Denver Mint only struck one Morgan Silver Dollar; the last year this Mint issued the Morgan Silver Dollar was 1921.

The Carson City Mint

The Carson City Mint was established by Congress in March 1863, but it was not put into operation until 1870.

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The U.S. Mint in Carson City produced Morgan Dollars with a “CC” mint mark from 1878 to 1885 before stopping production.

The New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans Mint was in operation from 1838 to 1861 and again from 1879 to 1909. The pause in operations occurred during the Civil War during the period of occupation by the Confederate Army.

Morgan Silver Dollars from the New Orleans mint branch have an “O” mint mark.

The San Francisco Mint

The San Francisco Mint opened in 1854 to serve the gold mines of the California Gold Rush. Morgan Silver Dollars struck at the San Francisco Mint have an “S” mint mark; they’re especially prized because of their connection to the “Wild West,” as are the coins struck at the Carson City Mint.

Rare U.S. Coins To Add to Your Collection

Bullion Shark is your trusted source for rare U.S. coins to enhance your beautiful collection.

We’re proud to offer a comprehensive selection of Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars from various dates and mints, so keep an eye on our continuously evolving inventory!



Mint Marks | U.S. Mint

Comstock Lode | mineral deposit, Nevada, United States | Britannica

New Orleans Mint | U.S. Department of the Treasury


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