Eisenhower Silver Dollars, Last of the Traditional Silver Dollar Type Coins

Dwight Eisenhower proved to be a successful leader in World War II, which led to the surrender of the Germans. He later was pursued by both parties for president. He won the 1952 election and again in 1956 as a Republican, and was known as an inspirational leader.

I personally don’t care much for Eisenhower silver dollars. I include them here because they were the last of the 1 ounce silver dollar sized coins America ever produced, and a few even contained some silver.

The 60’s were a time of change, and Congress thought Americans would like more pocket change in addition to social change. Thus the Ike dollar.

The decade of the 1960’s was a time of turmoil and change for the US. Congress determined it wasn’t practical to use silver in circulation coinage any longer. The transition to cupronickel clad coins began in 1965.

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Nice Business Strike Ike

From 1965 to 1969, silver clad copper which formed a 40% silver content was used. Then in 1970, cupronickel replaced silver in all fractional silver coinage. The new coins needed to be accepted by vending machines, the public, and be cost effective to produce.

A huge driving factor in eliminating silver in US coinage was that silver consumption was outpacing production. There was a concern that at the current rate of consumption, the Treasury’s supply of silver would be exhausted by 1969. Silver was simply becoming too scarce for continued large scale use in coins.

Dwight Eisenhower died in 1969, and the Joint Commission on Coinage decided to honor him with a silver dollar sized coin. On December 31st, 1970, President Nixon approved the production of the Eisenhower silver dollar coin. The Eisenhower dollar was produced from 1971 through 1978.

Since no silver dollar sized coin had been produced since 1935, mint employees at all 3 branches were unfamiliar with striking coins that large. Denver got some practice with the 1964 Peace dollar, but Americans never got to see the result of their efforts.

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Nice Ike Reverse Strike

San Francisco was the only mint to strike Eisenhower silver dollars with any actual silver in them. San Francisco struck both silver dollars containing silver and the cupronickel versions.

Proof coin production was moved to San Francisco in 1968. The San Francisco Mint struck Ikes containing 40% silver as proofs, and a few special “collector” uncirculated business strikes. None of the circulation strike Eisenhower silver dollars from any mint contained silver. All circulation strikes were cupronickel clad over a copper core.

If you can see a copper core along the rim of the coin, it isn’t silver. If there is no copper visible on the rim, it is the collector edition 40% silver strike.

Even the “silver” versions were a compromise. They were .800 silver clad over a .210 silver/copper core. That gave the coin as a whole, 40% silver content.

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1974 Ike Proof

Mint proof sets didn’t necessarily have coins containing any silver either. Proof mintage exceeded 1 million coins, and up to 4 million coins every year of production. Business strikes approached a staggering 175 million coins in 1972. With these mintage figures, the lack of silver content, and low production quality, there is nothing rare or valuable about these coins.

The Eisenhower silver dollar, like the one dollar coins that followed was a package of compromise that completely failed as a circulating coin. The design was uninspired and production quality very low. No wonder there is so little collector interest in it.

Unfortunately as a young person, I saved as many of these coins as I could. I thought all silver dollars were alike. They would someday become valuable, and pay me back handsomely. I wish I’d collected Morgans in the 1970’s instead. At least they did gain considerable value.

Like the 1964 Kennedy half dollar, it is impossible to find any coin in a lower circulated grade than AU. The reason for their lack of circulation was completely different, however.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

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1900 Lafayette, America’s First Commemorative Silver Dollar

The Lafayette commemorative silver dollar was not only America’s first commemorative silver dollar, but the first coin to have a portrait of our first president on it. This also was the only silver dollar commemorative coin minted until 1983.

These coins dated 1900 were actually struck on December 14th, 1899, which was the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s death. This was technically in violation of the Mint Act of 1873 which required coinage to display the actual year of mintage as the date. 50,000 coins were minted in one day to be sold as fund raising souvenirs.

So, who was Lafayette, and why were they commemorating him with a silver dollar?

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Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette was born in 1757 to French nobility. He went to college, and then joined the French Army in 1771. In 1777 he became interested in the American Revolution, so he came over to offer his services.

Congress gave him a commission of Major General in the new Continental Army. He soon became good friends with George Washington, and influenced the French to join the Americans in an alliance against the British.

Lafayette’s involvement in the American Revolution swung the war effort in the American’s favor. This led to the British surrender in 1781.

The year 1900 was the year for the Paris Exposition, a monumental event for the time. All of France was celebrating and the US decided to join the party. The US planned on donating a large statue of General Lafayette on his horse, sculpted by Paul Bartlett.

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Lafayette Statue

This coin was minted to help raise funds for this impressive statue. The cost was estimated at $100,000. Therefore 50,000 coins were produced to be sold at $2 apiece to defray the cost.

The Mint’s own Charles Barber designed this silver dollar with the pair of heads of Washington and Lafayette on the obverse and Bartlett’s early sketch of the statue on the reverse.

School children contributed their pennies to help meet the statue’s cost. In honor of their efforts, an inscription was added to the reverse which states “ERECTED BY THE YOUTH OF THE UNITED STATES IN HONOR OF GEN. LAFAYETTE”.

The monument was unveiled on July 4th, 1900 in Paris for the Exposition.

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1900 Lafayette Silver Dollar

Of the 50,000 Lafayette silver dollars produced, only around 36,000 were actually sold. The other 14,000 coins stayed in bank vaults until they were melted sometime before 1945.

Lafayette commemorative silver dollars are mostly found in circulated condition, as the American public didn’t see them as particularly special at the time. AU+ examples are plentiful, but truly mint state specimens are really rare American coins.

Unfortunately, these coins are typically poorly struck, with dull luster and many bag marks. The 1900 Lafayette silver dollar is one of the rarest commemorative coins in MS-65 and higher condition.

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Mike Maloney Observations on the Current US Economy

Here are two Mike Maloney videos taken at the same event with some observations on the current state of the US economy. As always, I think Mike Maloney videos are very intellectual and fact based.

In my opinion, American gold coin value and value of all silver will skyrocket sometime in this decade. That gives you some time to acquire your share, whether it’s in the form of gold or silver bullion or gold and silver coins. Check out GoldSilver.com on the right side of this page.

How savers are punished in today’s monetary environment

Could the USA default on its debt?

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

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The Pivotal Grading Point of Rare American Coins

The pivotal grading point of a rare coin is defined as the MS grade where the next higher grade is worth more than double the grade just below it. This is essential information for the rare American coin investor as well as collector.

Generally, two conditions will be present for a pivotal point grade. Learn to identify pivotal grading points and use this information to your advantage.

First, the third party grading service population report number of the higher grade must be less than 50% of the lower grade coin. If you review population reports, this is almost universally true.

Second, there will be at least a 100% price increase between the lower grade and the higher grade. Often, there is considerably more than double the price increase.

Pricing information for this article is based on the CDN Greysheet listings for Morgan and Peace dollars.

There is virtually always more than one pivotal grade point for a semi-key date mint state coin. It’s the combination of population and price that determines the initial and secondary pivotal point.

The secondary pivotal grading point usually has a more dramatic price increase than the initial. There are a few exceptions to this rule. The 1893-S Morgan is one of them. This is probably due to their already stratospheric prices.

The higher the coin grade, the more pivotal it becomes.

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1893-S MS Morgan

Generally speaking, the majority of Morgan and Peace silver dollars have their initial pivotal grade points at MS-65 and a secondary at MS-66.

The really common date Morgan and Peace dollars will have their pivotal point at MS-66 instead of MS-65. For example, the 1922 Peace silver dollar will initially pivot at MS-66 and again at MS-67.

The 1921 Morgan dollar will pivot initially at MS-65, with a secondary pivot at MS-66 and a tertiary pivot at MS 67. This very common coin is relatively uncommon in higher mint states.

Perhaps around 25% of Morgans are at MS-64 initially. Semi-common Morgan and Peace dates pivot at MS-64 or MS-65. The secondary is often between MS-65 and MS-66.

If you look at a price guide, you’ll notice the rarer the date, the lower grade the initial pivotal point it will have, and it may only have one at the lowest mint state grade. This is due to rarity in all grades, circulated and uncirculated.

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1889-CC MS Morgan

1893-S Morgan dollar prices increase substantially throughout its grading scale, but when you hit MS-60 the price jumps to 6 times the price of the AU-58. Then it pivots again at MS-65, but his time the secondary pivot point isn’t greater than the primary.

The difference in price between every pivot point in the mint state coin grades will be substantial, usually several thousands of dollars. To find the exact pivotal grade point, look on current price charts to determine where it is and what the exact price difference is.

What does this mean to you as an investor? Generally speaking, the greatest gains will be made for the grade just below the initial pivotal point. Again, generally speaking, the MS-64 Morgan has the greatest potential for price increases. Consult current price guides for specific information.

The grade right below the pivotal grade has a far larger market than the pivotal grade, especially in a down market. That’s because, most collectors and many investors are happy to pay a whole lot less for almost as good.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

 

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Rare American Coins and Morgan Dollar Branch Mint Proofs

There is a widespread belief that Philadelphia is the only US mint to produce proof Morgan silver dollars. This is generally true, but the other 3 mints occasionally struck proofs as well. These coins were struck with the extra pressure, from highly polished dies, one at a time and handled with extra care.

All the dies for Morgan and Peace silver dollars were made in Philadelphia. The final steps of basining and polishing were performed when the dies arrived at the respective branches.

There is a lot of controversy and conjecture around Branch mint proof coins.

Because of the low mintage numbers of branch mint proofs, and how infrequently they were struck, it’s commonly believed the branch mint proof dies were just modifications of the business dies. The largest known branch mint proof production amounts to 24 examples.

1921-S ProofThere is a lot of controversy and conjecture around these coins. Determining positively that a coin is indeed a branch mint proof is difficult. These examples usually don’t exhibit the square rims or bold design details of the Philadelphia proof silver dollars.

Employees of the three mint branches weren’t experienced in striking proof quality coins. Therefore these coins didn’t get the attention to detail the Philadelphia versions got.

Proof coins from the 3 branches are hard to distinguish from exceptional prooflike business strikes. That means they must be authenticated by an expert in the field.

The late Walter Breen was considered to be the ultimate authority on the subject. He had been authenticating these coins since 1963, and was possibly the only person expert enough to authenticate coins as proofs originating from a branch mint.

Montana coin dealer, Wayne Miller may be a close second to Walter Breen in this field. I’m not sure whom PCGS or NGC uses for this purpose.

Authentication starts with mint records indicating that the respective branch had produced proof coins in a given year. The existence of the coin must be well documented to begin with.

The well documented dates, proof coins were struck at branch mints are:

• 1879-O, 12 pieces, of which 4 are known to exist.
• 1883-O, 12 pieces, of which 2 are known to exist.
• 1893-CC, 12 pieces, of which 4 are known to exist.
• 1921-S, 24 pieces, of which 5 are known to exist.

There are other dates that exhibit definite proof qualities, such as the 1887-O, 1883-CC, 1884-CC and 1895-O, but not adequate mint records.

These examples are more than simply prooflike. Legitimate differing opinions exist among several leading and knowledgeable experts as to whether these are genuine proof coins produced at the mint branch or simply specimen type coins.

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A Rare and Lovely 1879-O Proof Morgan Dollar

The well documented dates are known as class I proofs produced by the branch mints. The 1879-O is probably the best known, because it commemorated the reopening of the New Orleans mint, closed since 1861.

The 1893-CC was struck for the closing of the Carson City Mint. The 1921’s were struck for coin dealers Farran Zerbe and Henry Chapman. I can’t find any commemorative reason for the production of the 1883-O version however.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

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Rare American Coins and Morgan Silver Dollar Proofs

Proof coins are the showpieces of the series of any coin and are therefore handled with extra care every step of their production. They represent the ultimate examples of that coin series.

In the case of Morgan silver dollars, by far the most proof examples were produced in Philadelphia. On rare occasions, the branch mints would strike proofs. This is covered in another article I’ve written on branch mint proofs.

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A Nice Example of an 1895 Morgan Proof

The planchets are hand selected for perfection, the dies are carefully polished. The press runs slowly and exerts far more pressure than on the circulation strike. Finally, the blanks are hand fed and retrieved to minimize damage during production.

To qualify as a proof, the coin details must be exceptional and fully struck. Morgan dollar specimens will exhibit squared off rims compared to the business strike.

If a proof looking Morgan dollar doesn’t exhibit the telltale squared off rims, no matter how good it looks, it isn’t one. Prooflike circulated silver dollars can occasionally be so well struck, they can almost fool the casual observer into thinking they are actually the real thing.

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1895 Morgan Proof Reverse

The fields will always appear mirror-like and are very easily damaged. Unlike their circulated siblings, care was taken at the mint during handling to avoid nicks and bag marks.

Even with all the care taken during production, these Morgan silver dollars still have a problem with hairlines in the mirror fields. Hairlines are the extremely fine scratches that show themselves because of the shiny field surfaces.

After the Morgan proof silver dollars left the mint, they were still subject to damage from handling. This came about because, the few coin collectors in the 19th century had no way to properly store their prizes. Back then, consideration was rarely given toward proper handling techniques.

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1893 Morgan Proof with Hairline Scratches and Weak Strike

Careless handling sometimes caused scratches to the mirrored silver surfaces. Depending on the location, depth, and length of the scratch, the coin may be deemed ungradable. Scratches, unlike hairlines are painfully obvious from any angle.

During the 20th century, some examples were harmed from albums or the edges of plastic flips. At least this sort of damage appears on the high points where it is less noticeable.

Some Morgan proofs have weak strikes even though the coin presses are supposed to exert significantly more pressure on proof coinage. Problem years are from 1888 to 1893 and to a lesser extent from 1901 to 1904.

Proof Morgan silver dollars will continue being at the top of collector interest in this series. They have a long term track record of significantly outperforming the circulation strike coins in price appreciation.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins: Prooflike Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars

A prooflike silver dollar is struck from a polished die that produces a reflective surface usually on the field and occasionally on the device. Prooflike coins were intended for circulation and no special care was taken in their handling.

Most prooflike Morgan silver dollars are boldly struck, but a few will lack full detail. The degree of reflectivity varies from mirror like, to little more than a regular frosty circulation grade silver dollar, which is known as semi-prooflike.

Prooflike silver dollars are highly desired among collectors due to their tremendous eye appeal, and form a special niche in the market.

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1882 Prooflike Morgan

Morgan dates can have a high circulation strike number, with only a few prooflike specimens or just the opposite can happen. The degree of reflectivity will vary from date to date, and mint to mint.

Three factors contribute to a circulation strike silver dollar looking like a proof. They are: reflectivity of the mirror surface, degree of contrast between the device and field, and mint made surface imperfections resulting from careless handling.

The cameo version of the Morgan silver dollar is the closest thing to an actual proof coin of any of the business strikes. They are the easiest to identify and of course the most valuable.

What’s known as brilliant prooflike Morgans have a shiny finish on both the fields and devices. They can be distinguished from polished coins because the date, lettering and mintmark won’t be shiny. Obviously this won’t happen on a polished example.

A grey brilliant prooflike silver dollar has a subdued luster. It is reflective, but will never appear cameo. Because these coins aren’t easily recognizable as the cameo, or brilliant, they aren’t as desirable.

Prooflike dollars show bag marks, abrasions and wear very easily. They frequently have annoying hairline swirls in the fields caused by incomplete die polishing.

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1879-S Semi Prooflike

The mirrored surfaces are easily dulled or destroyed. Temperature and humidity changes over the years can produce cloudy or milky spots on the reflective surfaces. Salt water will also ruin their surfaces.

Several factors alone, or in combination with others contribute to the prooflike traits of Morgan silver dollars. They are:

First, the master die was a cameo die with a highly polished field. This was then transferred to the working die. Generally, the first 500 to 2000 coins struck from these dies have the attributes of a proof.

Cameo circulated Morgans were fairly common in the early years, and had disappeared by 1900. This is because the cameo master die had weakened with duplication of working dies over the years. Die deterioration made successive examples less reflective, and therefore semi-prooflike in appearance.

Second is in the planchets. Planchets formed by new rollers would have a shinier surface than ones made by rollers worn from service in later years.

Third is when left over proof silver dollar dies were pressed into service after their initial use was complete. They still had a lot of working life left in them and made exquisite business strike coins.

With so many prooflike Morgan silver dollar specimens produced, you might wonder about proof and prooflike Peace dollars. Well, there aren’t any. A possible reason could be that Peace dollar working dies weren’t basined (or polished).

Technology advances had eliminated the need to individually hand polish working dies by the early 1920s. Considering that there weren’t any proof Peace dollars struck, no proof dies could be pressed into service for business strikes.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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Rare American Coins and the Creation of the Peace Silver Dollar

Farran Zerbe was the coin collector who founded the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum in New York City with his own superb coin collection. Farran Zerbe is credited with initiating the interest by Congress in a new silver coin commemorating the recent peace from the World War.

He campaigned for a new silver dollar coin intended for circulation. Finally, on May 9th, 1921 a joint resolution by the House and Senate brought the Peace Dollar into existence.

The Pitman Act now provided for replacement of the 270 million silver dollars melted for the war effort. President Warren Harding signed an Executive Order on July 28th, 1921 for a new Peace silver dollar coin.

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Anthony de Francisci at Work

It still took until November 23rd, to announce a competition for Peace silver dollar proposals from 8 prominent sculptors. Entries were due by December 13th, 1921. Mint employees worked furiously to have the working dies ready by the deadline of Monday, December 26th.

Because of the extremely condensed timeframe for having a working prototype, the contest winner, Italian immigrant, Anthony de Francisci used his 23 year old wife, Mary Teresa Cafarelli as the model to represent the Lady of Peace. She was the last model to pose for a representation of Liberty on a US coin.

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Peace Dollar Model Teresa de Francisci

Anthony de Francisci lived from July 13, 1887 to October 20, 1964. He immigrated to the United States in 1905 and was married to Mary Teresa Cafarelli in 1920. Mary Teresa Cafarelli de Francisci lived from May 4, 1898 to October 20, 1990 and died exactly 26 years after her husband to the day.

The original high relief design quickly proved to have problems during production, because the extra striking pressure considerably shortened die life. High relief dies broke easily and had a very short service life.

The relief was reduced soon after production began to solve the initial problems. Reduced striking pressures made the coin flat and weakly detailed. This made the Peace Dollar one of the flatter silver dollars minted in the US. It is second only to the Eisenhower silver dollar.

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Theresa de Francisci with Her Legacy Peace Dollar

Unfortunately, the flattening process made this coin lose most of the beauty intended by its designer. The beauty and bold design of this coin was lost in 1921, never to return.

The pride taken in minting the Morgan silver dollar didn’t carry over to the Peace dollar. The Philadelphia Mint produced coins with off white blotches and San Francisco was famous for its poor strikes. They DID manage to get a half million coins out of a die pair though.

 

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

 

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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The Original and Counterfeit: 1804 Draped Bust Silver Dollar

The 1804 Draped Bust dollar is the most interesting and desirable of all U.S. coins, with many mysteries and underworld type stories surrounding it. Known as the “King of coins”, it is one of the most famous and valuable coins in the world.

No 1804 dated silver dollars were actually struck that year. These coins show evidence of a technology which wasn’t available in 1804, but 30 years later.

Official mint records show 19,570 Draped Bust silver dollars were produced, but it’s believed that all the dollars actually struck in 1804 have been dated 1803 or before. This was a practice at the time to save the expense of creating new dies every year. The silver dollars actually minted in 1804 are indistinguishable from their 1803 predecessors.

15 specimens of the 1804 Draped Bust dollar are currently known, and all 15 are accounted for. They are categorized into Class I, II, & III. There are 8 Class I examples minted in 1834. 1 Class II, and 6 Class III coins were minted off the record by Mint employees between 1857 and as late as 1870.

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1804 Class I Muscat Proof

All Class I 1804 silver dollars will weigh 416 grains, the standard prior to 1837 and all are proofs. Class I and Class III 1804 dollars have a lettered edge of the style used from 1794 to 1803, while the Class II dollar has a plain edge.

The 1858 Type III restrikes were made on whatever planchets could be found at the time. They didn’t necessarily weigh the new 412.5 grains dictated by Congress. Besides their non-uniform weight, Class III coins can be distinguished from Class I by their slightly different reverse design.

It is thought that originally 15 Class II dollars were illegally struck by mint employees, which were later returned to mint officials. The only remaining Class II 1804 dollar has gone to the National Collection in the Smithsonian.

We now know that the 8 Class I, 1804 dollars were minted in 1834-1835 for inclusion in presentation proof sets given to dignitaries by the US Government. One is found in the King of Siam proof set, the other went to the Sultan of Muscat.

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1804 Draped Bust Dollar Class III NGC Proof 63

When the U.S. mint exhausted their original supply of 1804 dollars, an additional 7 more pieces, the type III were made to satisfy collector demand in 1858 & 1859 and released over the next 20 years to collectors.

All of these coins are uncirculated, although 4 of the 7 were made to look circulated. That way their owners could have an explanation for their acquisition, not tying them directly to the US Mint.

In the late 1960’s there were thousands of cast dollars dated 1803 & 1804, as well as Trade dollars sold to American soldiers returning from Viet Nam. These coins sometimes exhibit an I or ! after the word AMERICA on the reverse. They are cast copies of an 1800 Draped Bust silver dollar, with the last 0 retooled into a 4.

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1804 Cast Draped Bust Dollar

Cast copies typically have poor, indistinct features. The fields are porous in texture, which is in keeping with cast coins. They are also light in weight, coming in at only 22 to 23 grams. Finally, the 1804 date is nicely cut regardless of wear. A coin with blobs on the date is counterfeit.

Alterations of other dates from genuine 1801 to 1803 Draped Bust silver dollars account for the rest of the known counterfeits. Most date alterations will show tool marks around the altered date fairly distinctly, though a few have been deceptively well done.

Check out other informative articles on this website using the Search, Recent Articles, or Category features on the upper right side of this page.

If you are interested in investing in silver or gold products, check out GoldSilver.com, or AmagiMetals.com.                               

If you are interested in buying gold or silver bullion at the lowest price, check out BullionVault.

If you are interested in learning more about rare American coin, or foreign coin collecting and investing see NumisMaster from Krause Publications.

If you would like to buy interesting modern, or old rare gold and silver coins take a look at either NewYorkMint or GovMint.

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How to Quickly and Confidently Spot a Fake 1893-S Morgan Silver Dollar

1893-S Morgan silver dollars are so renowned, that more exist today than were originally minted. Most Counterfeit 1893-S Morgans consist of altered versions of existing genuine Morgan dollars.

The majority of 1893-S Morgan silver dollars are certified, so why would I need to know how to tell a fake one when I see it? Hasn’t NGC and PCGS already done that for me?

I’ve seen fake 1893-S Morgans both graded and raw. I have to assume PCGS and NGC graders both know how to spot a fake 1893-S Morgan, so when I see an example of a counterfeit slabbed in a legitimate looking holder, I have to figure the holder is as fake as the coin.

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Genuine 1893-S Morgan. Notice the date.

I also run across fake coin denial. Owners of these coins don’t want to admit they were fooled into buying a counterfeit coin. That’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when the owner paid top dollar for a graded coin with the confidence of it being blessed from a major third party grader.

The 1893-S date/mintmark is the most valuable of the Morgan designed dollars. Because of this, most counterfeit versions have been made by altering either the date, or the mintmark.

Learning to tell a fake 1893-S Morgan is simple, because ALL 100,000 coins were made from the same obverse die and two reverse dies. That makes the diagnostic really easy.

They all have the same obverse characteristics and not terribly different reverse characteristics. Any coin that doesn’t possess the telltale diagnostic characteristics is a fake. Learn what to look for, and you can spot a fake raw coin AND a fake graded coin.

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1893-S Counterfeit. Date well spaced in relation to the rim.

The date is probably the easiest thing to pick out. Unlike other dies from the S, O, or P mints, the date has a flaw and a certain characteristic the altered coins won’t possess.

First, look closely at the 1. Does it line up exactly with the dentil directly under it? Can you draw a line right through the center of both?

Next, study the last numeral. As the date progresses, it slopes upward to the right, in relation to the edge. The 3 is noticeably higher than the 1 at the beginning. This is the easiest way to quickly spot a fake.

There are things to check in the “T” and “R” on LIBERTY, but they would need a microscope to detect. There’s a tiny die scratch in the “T” and a detail that resembles “rabbit ears” in the base of the “R”. ALL genuine 1893-S Morgans have this detail, if you happen to have a microscope check out this diagnostic detail.

You don’t really need to turn the coin over to make any more diagnostics on it.

Further diagnostics will only tell you how the alteration was made. The genuine “S” mintmark is clear and rounded. It isn’t a mushy blob. The top serif on the “S” is a vertical line, while the bottom serif is more like a triangle.

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1893-S Morgan Mintmark Close up

The next mintmark giveaway is the alignment of the “S”. It should be perfectly aligned. I’ve seen the “S” mintmark noticeably slanted, and it shouldn’t be. Also, the “S” is slightly filled in between the upper curve and the slant of the “S” as well as the lower curve and the slant.

Since most counterfeit 1893-S dollars are altered, continue to study the coin with a 10X glass. Rotate the coin and look for tooling marks around the 9 or 3 for signs of a date alteration on the obverse. Altered coins are usually the 1898-S, 1883-S, or 1893-P.

As collector values continue to increase with the 1893-S, the fakes will get even better. With emerging technologies, counterfeits will become almost perfect replicas of the original. My hope is that as technologies to accurately copy a coin advance, technologies to detect such copies will also keep up.

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