Finding a genuine gem among a collection of worn-out junk coins is one of the most thrilling joys. In the world of coin collecting, nothing compares to the thrill of pulling a valuable coin from a pile of cheap garbage. Unfortunately, it often takes a lot of searching to find coins worth more than their face value.
But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. The 1879 silver dollar is the focus of this post. Silver dollars are frequently among the most expensive coins in your everyday collection.
The value of the dollar today is determined by several factors, including the fact that it is made of silver, which means it will always be worth at least its face value in silver. It is also affected by supply, demand, and the coin’s condition.
History of The 1879 Silver Dollar Coin
Because of the newly discovered silver mines that led to a silver rush in the 1850s, the coin has a long and interesting history. The unexpected discovery of silver nearly ended the gold rush that was taking place in California at the same time.
The government used the Bland-Alison Act, which required it to buy a significant amount of silver from the Comstock Lode mines and use it to produce silver currency to make use of the newly discovered silver.
George T. Morgan, a well-known silver engraver with many coins bearing his name, designed the 1879 dollar. After moving to the US from Britain, Morgan was hired by the government in 1876 to design coins.
1879 Silver Dollar Design
The history of Lady Liberty’s imagery is closely related to the stunning design of the 1879 silver dollar. Although Liberty is a well-known representation of American values, the idea of her being a gorgeous woman has a much longer history than the US. The Roman goddess Libertas is the embodiment of Liberty, and her image has appeared on coins for over a thousand years!
To create a Lady Liberty that seemed uniquely American, George T. Morgan set out to design his version of the American silver dollar. He made contact with Anna Willess Williams, who was at the time a philosophy teacher in a primary school. She served as Morgan’s ideal inspiration for the Libertas-like American woman.
On the obverse side of the 1879 silver dollar is a portrait of Williams. She is identified symbolically further by donning the Phrygian cap and a hair band with the word “Liberty” on it.
As you might anticipate, the reverse side features the iconic American bald eagle. It has an olive branch and a bundle of arrows in this position. This portrayal has a lot of symbolic meaning for American culture. The bald eagle represents peace and war, evoking the willingness of America to defend itself and its adherence to peace.
Identifying the 1879 Morgan Silver Dollar
It shouldn’t be too difficult to determine whether your coin is an 1879 silver dollar. There are a few telltale signs that the coin you own is a version of Morgan’s iconic silver dollar design from 1879. You’ll first notice its size and face value. The coin will be larger than other coins, such as the American silver quarter. It will have a face value of $1 placed at the bottom of the reverse side.
It’s important to remember that the Morgan Silver Dollar’s design remained unchanged during the first production stage. Because different mint years have different values to collectors, be sure to take note of the year your coin was struck. You can find the mint year on the obverse side, directly below Liberty’s neck.
The piece’s identity is also clearly shown in its obverse and reverse designs. George T. Morgan based his version of the traditional “Lady Liberty” personification on Anna Willess Williams. Simply looking up a photo of Ms. Williams can be beneficial if everything else fails. If she appears on the obverse portrait of your silver coin, it is a Morgan dollar.
Mintmarks Of 1879 Dollar
Six variants and five mintmarks are available for the silver dollar. Each mint is linked to a different city. On the reverse of the coin, behind the bow or beneath the right eagle’s tail, are the letters that stand in for these cities.
Because not all mintmarks are equally uncommon and coins with less common mintmarks tend to be more valuable to collectors, these mintmarks now factor into how much a coin is worth.
The Philadelphia Mint did not affix any markings to the coins. The letters “CC” on the coin’s reverse stand in for the Carson Mint. They are more valuable. Those that have the letter S on them were produced in San Francisco. The letters O and D stand for Colorado and the New Orleans mint, respectively.
The coin’s condition is another essential part of determining its value. Collectors are usually looking for a coin that’s in excellent condition, meaning that all the features of the coin can be displayed and noticeable. The coins that aren’t in good condition can also be sold, but they will primarily be valued by the amount of silver used to make them.
A grading system is put in place to explain how well the coin is kept, and it also has a role in how it will be priced.
The coins are known as:
A silver dollar that is considered to be “uncirculated” has never been used in trade. Your coin should still seem brand-new, with no evidence of wear. Any wear-related metal loss can be seen in the hair at Liberty’s temple and coronet. Coins in this condition are graded as MS 60 to MS 70, depending on the wear.
The extremely fine grade is characterized by minor wear that is nevertheless well-defined and has plenty of detail. The hair behind the ear and the sizable cotton blooms above are two things to look at. These should still have plenty of detail but also show light wear.
The original design’s finer points have merged due to long-term use in circulation. Silver dollars in “fine” condition are described as having visible moderate wear. The hair above and below the ear on Liberty is noticeably worn, with flat spots replacing the earlier fine lines. Liberty’s cotton blossoms next to the letter “Y” must display a separation between the blossom and the supporting leaves.
A “good” 1879 silver dollar has a noticeably “flat” appearance. The distinction between Liberty’s hair and forehead that formerly existed has faded. Even though her ear is still visible, the hair above and behind it is silky and joins her face. The cotton blooms are no longer present, but Liberty can be seen in the headband. The value of 1879 Morgan silver dollars of this grade, except for those produced at Carson City, is based on the amount of metal they contain.
The value of the circulating coin is equal to its silver equivalent. The value of silver changes, much like the value of other precious metals, and when the coin is sold, it is sold for the price of silver on the day of the sale. Silver is valued at $25.8 per ounce as of this writing, implying that the coin will likely be valued at around $20.
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How To Handle 1879 Coin
It’s essential to know how to manage the coin to keep and, if possible, boost its value because it’s an older silver coin whose worth depends on how well it is conserved. The coin shouldn’t be cleaned since that is the easiest method to show that it is ancient and has been used, so that is the first thing to know.
If the coin hasn’t been used before, it shows in its state, and there’s nothing you can do about it to retain the silver and coin in excellent shape. Most coin collectors won’t buy a coin even if it has been cleaned and restored to a better condition.
The coin has to be held by the edges and kept somewhere dry and dark. It’s better to avoid storing it in a wooden box since, with time, the wood will harm the silver. Finding ways to keep it dry is also helpful; you can wrap it in clothing that does that.
Which One To Buy?
Since the answer relies on several variables, this question is challenging to answer. The rarity of these dollars attracts collectors, who will seek out the coins that were produced in the fewest numbers possible. This implies that it relies on the type of mint that was used.
Additionally, coin collectors seek out coins that have been kept as original as possible. You can earn from every coin you buy if you intend to sell them. The same principle holds for rarity, but it’s also a good idea to buy regularly issued coins because their value may rise in line with the price of silver.
A silver coin that was produced in 1879 is today highly prized by coin collectors and people who are interested in its fascinating history. Although there are many of them, only some of them are in perfect shape. The value that the coins may command on the market varies as a result.
The amount of silver used to produce the coin will determine its value, but it will always be worth its gold weight. The value of a specific coin depends on where it was made and how well it has been maintained.