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.

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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Collector Interest and Availability of Morgan Silver Dollars

The vast numbers of Morgan silver dollars along with their mint state beauty has served to make this series the single most collectible and popular coin among coin collectors. Their wide range of dates, mint marks, conditions and varieties give lots of possibilities to collectors with diverse interests and budgets.

Morgan dollars are the single most collectible and popular coin among collectors

Morgan silver dollars are often divided into four categories. They are: common date, semi-common date, semi-key date, and key date examples. The lower condition examples generally serve as silver bullion, or a place to start a coin collection. That’s where I started collecting coins.

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A very affordable coin

Once an appreciation of Morgans sets in, the beginning collector often takes the next step and starts looking for the least expensive, most common, BU coins. These are the most frequently traded and are the most liquid of the entire series.

There are millions of BU and circulated Morgan dollars available at affordable prices to the collector. If Morgans weren’t so generally affordable, I suspect there would be a lot less interest in owning them.

Semi-common MS dates appeal to the more advanced collector. Their higher price makes them less affordable to more people, and their prices are slightly more volatile. They are better investments than common date and yet still fairly liquid. 

Semi-key date BU examples are often added to collections when they are finally found at the right price. They are usually only sold to upgrade the collection. They are often held for the long term and trade less frequently.

Key date Morgans are actively sought by both collectors and investors alike. Once they are found, they’re rarely sold. The best grades are usually sold at auction or private transactions. These coins are regarded as “keepers” by their owners and rarely come to market.

Surprisingly enough, some of the semi-key dates are among issues with well over a million coins originally struck. Their semi-key status comes from the number surviving in mint state condition. Therefore original mintage figures don’t mean as much in determining rarity as the survivors.

The lack of government records regarding the great melts makes it even more difficult to determine potential date/mint mark rarity. As certified populations of Morgans reach the point where grading them doesn’t significantly increase their value, more accurate estimates of rarity will evolve.

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A Nice Coin to Own

Fewer and fewer hoards are coming to market as the years pass, and will continue to be less frequent in the future. Several dates lost their rarity status in the 1960’s and 70’s when the government released their stash of silver dollars to the public. These dates include the 1903-O, 1898-O, 1904-O, and of course the many BU Carson City releases.

Determining surviving date numbers is an inexact science at best. We all know that resubmissions and slab crack outs skew the TPG population numbers. But for now, Third Party Grading population reports are all we have to rely on for the Morgan silver dollar census.

An actual estimate of coins available is separate from the rare coin market, which only measures the supply in relation to demand. The market gives a general indication of rarity, but not the actual census numbers.

As time goes by, and things in the silver dollar world settle out, there will be less activity that disrupts the population numbers. Rarity estimates will become more accurate, and another piece of the numismatic puzzle closer to being in place.

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 Gobrecht Designed Silver Dollars

Congress suspended the production of silver dollars in 1804 and finally lifted it in 1831. No silver dollars were struck between 1804 and 1834, except when they were used as diplomatic presentation sets.

In 1835 interest was growing to reinstate silver dollars as regular issue coins. Christian Gobrecht was invited to present designs of the new coinage. Many short lived varieties of Gobrecht’s design were created, because of changing sentiment for the silver dollar in the mid 1830’s, both by the public and Congress.

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Original Gobrecht Dollar

Gobrecht patterned his new silver dollar based on designs from artists of the day. The obverse of Liberty Seated came from Thomas Sully and the reverse from Titian Peale’s eagle in flight.

By the mid 1830’s when these coins were being designed, there were 26 states. Gobrecht original design called for 13 large stars and 13 small stars. That resulted in public criticism, because the 13 original states weren’t more important than the new entries.

The early examples had Christian Gobrecht’s name displayed on the obverse in tiny letters above the date. This was the only time in US mint history when the full name of the designer was placed on a coin, although initials are commonly displayed somewhere.

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Original Gobrecht Dollar Reverse

The dispute over the full name on the dollar coin delayed production until December 1836. Public objections were strong enough to bring about its omission in the 1839 issues.

Basically, the 1836 & 1837 Gobrecht dollars had a plain edge with his name above the date in the rock base, with large and small stars on the reverse. The coins struck in 1839 had a reeded edge, no name in the rock base and no stars on the reverse.

All Gobrecht dollars were struck in the Philadelphia Mint, and all the regular circulation coins of 1836 and 1837 have a proof finish, so the public could see the high quality of the new coins. This is unique in U.S. coinage, where coins intended for circulation were struck as proofs.

The Gobrecht silver dollars minted in their various forms between 1836 and 1839 came in both pattern and regular issue coins. A total of 1900 coins were produced between 1836 and 1839 with 1600 dollars dated 1836, even though they were actually struck in 1836 and 1837. The other 300 were delivered in 1839.

Only 1,000 of the 1600 examples were struck before the end of the year 1836. Authority for new Seated Liberty silver dollars was given by congress in 1834 with the Old Draped Bust, 416 grain weight standard of 1792, rather than the new standard of 412.5 grains of 1837.

600 more 1836 silver dollars were minted in March of 1837 for public distribution at the new 412.5 grain weight. These coins are very close in weight, but can be differentiated from the first 1836 issue, because they had the obverse and reverse aligned in “medal” fashion, rather than the prior “coin” fashion.

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Gobrecht Dollar Pattern for 1839

The 1838 silver dollar is a pattern coin only, with no regular issue struck. These coins are extremely rare, with fewer than 10 pieces in existence.

In December 1839, 300 more silver dollars were produced and were the last dollars with the flying eagle reverse. The minting of Gobrecht’s Seated Liberty design silver dollars continued in 1840 with a Heraldic Eagle reverse from 1807, and stayed in use until 1873.

There was little interest in numismatics prior to 1850, so very few of these coins were spared circulation. After 1850 however, numismatics started rising in popularity among Americans.

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Gobrecht Dollar Restrike

The consumer demand was such that the US Mint started restriking earlier coins during the 1850s and 1860s. Mint director James Ross Snowden used Mint dies to create such numismatic anomalies as the Class II and Class III 1804 dollars, and Gobrecht dollar restrikes.

The number of Gobrecht dollar restrikes is believed to exceed the original mintage figures. All original dollars dated 1836 will show the eagle flying “onward and upward,” while the restrikes made in the 1850’s and 60’s will have the eagle flying horizontally.

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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When Bidding for Rare American Coins on eBay Simply Defies Logic

It seems like holidays would be a perfect time to pick up eBargains on eBay. The foolish seller didn’t realize when listing, that the auction would end on a holiday. No one would be around to bid on the coin. What a great way to clean up. eBid on the holidays! You come to eBay prepared to scoop up everything going out that day.

On Thanksgiving there’s football, Christmas of course is family time, July 4th is summer barbeques, etc. The eBuying public is out with the family, watching TV and having fun, while these unfortunate auctions just slide out unnoticed.

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1878-S Morgan Listed on eBay

Somehow my experience hasn’t proven that out. I don’t remember ever getting great prices when bidding on a holiday. Maybe everyone else has the same thought as me, and decides to search eBay for bargains on their favorite weakness.

When the holidays come, enjoy your family, TV, going to the movies, or that special activity that brings meaning to the day. You’re not going to clean up in the eBay bargain department, so have fun on the holidays.

The other time that defies logic is the early morning bids and the mid-day week day bids. I’ve left lowish reasonable bids for auctions that end overnight or for auctions that end mid-day figuring not many people would be out there to bid against me.

I don’t remember ever winning these kinds of auctions. There must be people up all night or not working during the day poised to grab my coin from me. Sometimes, I’m amazed at the final selling price.

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1883-O Morgan on eBay

Perhaps the most important tip for getting the best price on eBay is to NEVER bid at the end of an auction, unless you’re scooping up a coin that’s been missed all the way up until that time.

I usually bid for bargains during the last couple hours of auctions. I bid what I consider to be a reasonable, lowish price for the coin and not get emotionally involved with having it. I bid when I have time to contemplate all the factors, look up pricing in the CDN, or use personal experience to determine my bid amount.

I place the bid and move on. I make it a point not to be around at the end of the auction… most of the time. If I’m around near the end of the auction, I may just watch my coin go out to me.

I may also watch it get outbid in the last two seconds. I may watch it get outbid in the last two minutes. What I never do is increase my bid. I originally bid when I was thinking straight and considered all the factors. Why would I let emotion get in the way of reason?

Be patient. Coin bargains require patience. The coin you want for the best price will come around eventually. It’s all part of the game.

If you’re looking for higher grade/rarer date coins, often they aren’t up for auction. They tend to be in Buy it Now listings. Knowing the value of the coin and carefully screening the Buy it Now asking price will get you some great eBargains.

Always make the Buy it Now seller a lower offer, even if “Make Best Offer” isn’t an option on the listing. You simply contact them through the contact seller in the More Actions dropdown menu. Most sellers will accept a 10% price reduction in order to sell their coin.

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 Part 2 of PCGS Counterfeit Coin Detection

This video is the last in the PCGS series of videos on coin grading and counterfeit detection, and the second in the series on techniques for counterfeit detection. It contains a few more tools for determining the authenticity of a coin.

Coin authenticity should be a concern to all coin collectors. I’ve even seen fake coins in PCGS holders. Simply buying the holder is no longer enough. This video contains some general rules as well as some very specific telltale things that determine the authenticity of a coin.

To view the other PCGS videos in this series, go to www.heritagecoingallery.com and click on videos in the Categories box on the right hand side.

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 U.S. Pattern Dollars

Pattern coins were made as test coins during their developmental stages. They represent where our coinage might have gone and where our circulation issue coins come from. They might also represent the birth of a new issue, or an experiment with a new alloy.

You might also say some pattern coins are the evidence of seamier practices of mint officials, who produced coins for their own benefit. Mostly however, pattern coins are misfits. They usually are the coins never produced for use in commerce.

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1879 Wash Lady Pattern Dollar

Pattern coins can be categorized as:
True Patterns: are used to test a design with the intention of using the coin for circulation.
Experimental Pieces: are usually variations of a coin, i.e. planchet thickness or diameter, shape or composition, etc.
Regular Die Trial Pieces: are regular issue coins struck in a metal other than used in their circulating variety. They are used for press setup or trying a new way to strike the coin. They are also used as inexpensive samples for study.

There have been many metals used in pattern coins. Some of them are: copper, copper-nickel, aluminum, brass, bronze, gold, nickel, lead, pewter, tin, steel, zinc and silver. The trial pattern can be struck on both sides of the coin, or on just one side. If it is struck on just one side, it is known as a “splasher”.

Pattern coins are beautiful, rare and historically significant. They are real bargains when you consider their actual rarity. Pattern coins are an important part of the coin development process, and are rarer than any regular issue coin.

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1879 Schoolgirl Pattern Dollar

There were no pattern dollars for many of the years between 1794 and 1885. But some years such as 1873, there are many pattern examples following the demonetization of silver and putting the US on a gold-only standard.

1873 was a rich year for patterns, because the Coinage Act of 1873 provided for a revamping of US coinage. The Trade Dollar was authorized by Congress and the half dime, 3 cent piece and 2 cent piece were eliminated.

Very few people are either aware of, or interested in these specimens. Because sales are so infrequent, there are no reliable price guides for them.

Pattern dollars prices fluctuate with the coin market, but generally with less volatility. Pattern silver dollars cost from $2000 for lower grade “common” coins, to well over half a million for MS-65, 1794 Flowing Hair dollars.

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1875 Pattern Trade Dollar

There are very few experts in this field. Probably the first and most preeminent was J. Hewitt Judd. J. Hewitt Judd has established the rarity for each pattern coin from 1794 until 1885. Then he assigned a number to every pattern silver dollar the US Mint explored during that time.

This was the era for pattern coins, as the US Mint became the nation’s largest coin dealer. It goes without saying, the US Mint has probably made more money than any business in this country!

 

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 True Rarity of U.S. Silver Dollars

Generic silver dollars in grades MS-60 and above seem common because there are over 6,859,000 NGC and PCGS graded MS-60+ Trade, Morgan, and Peace dollars. At first glance, Morgan & Peace dollars seem anything but rare.

There are an estimated 40-50 million uncirculated pre-1921 Morgans and 30-40 million uncirculated Peace dollars. The majority of these would grade MS-60 to MS-62 condition, especially in the Peace series.

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Morgan Silver Dollar

Almost 850 million silver American dollars were minted between 1878 and 1935. The Pittman Act of 1918 resulted in 270 million Morgans being melted, then later replaced with 86 million 1921 Morgan, and 190 million Peace dollars.

Then, 52,739,000 Peace dollars were melted in 1942 for the WWII effort and never replaced. The total number of Morgan and Peace silver dollars melted between 1883 and 1964 is 333 million. Total surviving Morgan and Peace coins in all grades is around 514 million.

Investment level Morgan and Peace series coins in grades MS-65+ have a combined PCGS and NGC population of 975,000. This seems like a lot of silver American dollar coins available.

If you multiply the figure 975,000 by their average bargain price of $2100 that gives us a pitifully small market of  $2.0475 billion. When you compare this to the hundreds of billions of dollars traded daily on equity and exchange markets, the rare coin investment market is amazingly small. There are many Americans with a net worth of more than the total value of the investment grade rare silver dollar market.

Circulated and lower grade common MS silver American dollars are worth only a small price over their spot or melt value. Their market is very liquid and affordable for the average income silver dollar investor.

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Unusually nice 1873 Trade Dollar

1794-1804 flowing hair/draped bust, 1840-1873 Liberty Seated & 1873-1885 Trade Dollars are incredibly rare compared to the Morgan & Peace series. 42.2 million Liberty Seated and 35.9 million Trade Dollars were minted.

27 million Trade Dollars were exported to the Orient, never to return to the US. That leaves only 8.9 million examples in all grades for collecting. Even though the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust series coins weren’t melted by the US Government, their survival rate hasn’t been high.

A total of 162,000 Flowing Hair and 1,284,000 Draped Bust examples were originally minted. Studies show a 3% to 5% survival rate for these early silver dollars. That leaves a combined total of 43,000 to 76,000, 1794 to 1803 silver dollars remain in all conditions.

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American Silver Eagle

If 90 million uncirculated silver American dollars from all years of production remain in existence, perhaps one out of four people in the US could own an original issue, uncirculated example. Modern issue uncirculated Silver Eagles are far more plentiful than all the original silver dollars put together.

Even though the numbers sound high, when more people get interested in collecting silver dollars issued and intended as currency, there aren’t enough to go around. I’d like to say modern Silver Eagles will always remain common, but there may come a time when they’re considered rare also.

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 Draped Bust Silver Dollar Series

The new Draped Bust design silver dollar was introduced in October of 1795 and 42,738 examples were struck before the end of the year. These coins are proportionately less rare than the earlier flowing hair design, but there are 30 or so, MS-64 or MS-65 examples.

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1795 Draped Bust

The Draped Bust design continued into 1796. Production was hampered by poor dies, scarcity of silver bullion and lack of public support or even interest in a national mint. The 1796 date coins had a mintage similar to the 1795 coins, but this date is significantly rarer in grades above AU-58.

Striking quality is typically poor, as on the Flowing Hair design, which will be a full grade weaker on the reverse than the obverse.  Planchet quality on the 1796 dollars is inferior to the 1795 version. Most of these coins will show a lot of nicks and scratches.

The problems which plagued the mint in 1796 became even worse in 1797. This year only, they had 16 stars to represent every state in the union at the time. Finding nice examples of 1797 Draped Bust silver dollars is really tough.

The 1797 dollars are also difficult to grade because of their poor quality control. The most accurate way is to determine the detail on the device and note any remaining mint luster. The obverse should be weighted higher than normal in determining the grade, due to the general poor quality of the reverse. These coins are difficult to find in grades above VF-30.

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Small Eagle Reverse

The 1798 Bust silver dollars are probably the most misunderstood issue in the Draped Bust series. Both the original Small Eagle and Heraldic Eagle reverse dies were used that year.

Lots of varieties are represented for this year, including 13 and 15 star designs. Around 7,000-8,000 coins survive from the original mintage of 327,536 and only two dozen of them grade in the MS-64 or MS-65 range.

 

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Draped Bust Heraldic Reverse

 

1798 Heraldic Eagle dollars are much easier to find than their small Eagle counterparts. Striking quality varies greatly, but is generally slightly better than 1797.

Grading these coins is still difficult, because the poor strike looks like wear unless you know the striking characteristics of this issue. As with so many of the early silver dollars, many have been repaired or restored.

The 1799 Bust dollars are among the most common of the series. 423,515 were struck and as many as 8500-9000 may have survived. These coins are easy to find in EF condition, though AU examples are scarce and MS are rare. The year 1799 has more high-grade specimens than any single year in the Draped Bust series.

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1800 Draped Bust

The year 1800 is another relatively common date by the standards of the Draped Bust dollar. 220,920 were struck, and 4500-5000 still survive. Most will be found in low grades typically in About Good to Fine. The strike tends to be better than earlier dates in this series, though often weak at the centers.

The 1801 mintage was 54,454 pieces, but there seems to be a fairly low survival rate. It is really rare in upper grades and probably the rarest date with the Heraldic Eagle reverse. 1801 dollars exhibit the typical weak strike of the Draped Bust series, especially lacking hair detail. As with so many dates in the Draped Bust series, this date also displays significant post striking damage.

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1802 Draped Bust

For 1802, the mintage was only 41,650. The date isn’t as scarce as the figure would suggest however, because some coins dated 1802 were actually struck in 1803 and 1804. The 1802 dollars exhibit the typical weak strike of their predecessors, especially on the obverse.

1803 Draped Bust silver dollars had a mintage of 85,364. Of those struck, 19,570 were released in 1804, with some of them dated 1802 as well. These coins aren’t as rare in high grades as the 1801 variety.

Low grade examples are almost common, but pieces above EF are scarce. The 1803 Draped Bust dollars continue to be softly struck. They tend to look flat and mushy.

The production of silver dollars stopped in 1804 and didn’t resume until 1836. Silver dollars were expensive to produce and demand for them wasn’t very strong. They were just too cumbersome to be practical for most people.

The last of the Draped Bust dollar series was the 1804 with the Heraldic Eagle. It is one of the most legendary of American rare coins, and was actually struck in 1834 and again in the 1850’s. I will devote an entire future article on the famous 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar.

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Investment Potential for Common Date MS Morgan Silver Dollars

After the 1918 Pittman Act silver coin meltdown, about 30 million Morgans survive in uncirculated condition. Almost 20% of these have actually been graded. Considering the population of U.S. is now 300 million that leaves only one MS Morgan Silver dollar for every 10 people in the U.S.

Common MS-60 to MS-62 Morgan dollars don’t seem to have as much investment potential as rarer coins. Unlike other numismatic coins however, silver dollars derive some of their value from their bullion content. This has a positive psychological effect on most collectors.

rare american coins

1881-S Morgan

Silver dollars represent an early America which didn’t have all the social, political and economic problems of today. They come from a time of relative economic stability. The Morgan silver dollar is the most marketable coin in the rare American coin industry. It has the widest appeal to collectors because of its age, size and silver content.

Common date MS Silver dollars only loosely follow the bullion market with investors and collectors anticipating a rising price in the silver market. For the market to return to lively activity, several things have to fall into place.

Will former conditions for a bull market repeat themselves? Will many more people become interested in the silver market? Will precious metals become precious again, or will they be viewed as mere relics from the past?

The antique market has certainly dried up. The younger generations now have very little interest in the past and what used to be important for day-to-day activities. Fortunately, silver has industrial consumption that keeps silver from becoming completely extinct.

Silver and gold have been used as money for thousands of years, and used in America until 50 years ago. No fiat currency has ever held up over time. They all erode in value until they’re worthless.

Since the 1980’s the U.S. went from the largest creditor nation in the world to the largest debtor nation. Our economic expansion hasn’t been because of increased productivity as it should be, but government financed debt.

rare american coins

1882-CC Morgan

Amazingly, less than 1% of Americans invested in gold and silver rare coins during the first bull market from 1971-1974 when gold rose from $35 per ounce to almost $200. Then 3% of the public participated in the second bull market from 1976 to 1980, when gold rose from $102 to $850. And silver spiked at $50 per ounce.

Common date, uncirculated Morgan silver dollars could very well be the most undervalued coins on the market today.  Almost everyone can afford them, making for a very liquid market. Should common date MS Morgan silver dollars be referred to as MoreGain silver dollars? Probably not.

Now is a great time to be entering the common date uncirculated silver dollar market, because market expectations are very low. This is part of diversifying your coin portfolio. Then plan to sell some of your holdings when there is a greater public interest in buying rare American gold and silver coins.

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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