1881 Silver Dollar: A Historical and Numismatic Treasure

In 1881, Morgan silver dollars were produced in four mints: Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Carson City. The composition of this Morgan dollar is 90% silver and 10% copper. While each coin contains the standard 0.77344 troy ounces (24 g) of silver, its total weight is 0.8594 troy ounces (26.73 g).

Even though the price of silver bullion right now is $18.42, you might get more money for your coin depending on many factors. In general, the 1881 Morgan silver dollar is worth more because it represents a significant period in American history.

Let’s look at the current worth of this coin and how you can get a higher price.

The 1881 Morgan Silver Dollar

In 1881, four mines minted 27,927,000 Morgan silver dollars, including those from:

  • Philadelphia – without a mint mark
  • New Orleans – with an O mint mark
  • San Francisco – with an S mint mark
  • Carson City – with a CC mint mark

Look for the mint mark beneath the wreath on the coin’s reverse. This dollar has a total net weight of 0.86 troy ounces but contains 0.7735 troy ounces (24 g) of .900 fine silver and copper (26.7 g). This means these coins can be sold for at least their silver value when they are still in circulation.

The melt value of this coin is easily determined by using the silver spot price per troy ounce (31.1), which is $23.81. Due to its historical significance, you can always sell the coin in very fine condition for at least $30 to $45. Remember that the 1881 CC silver dollar costs roughly $450 in the same grade.

Features of the 1881 Silver Dollar

1881 Silver Dollar Features

The Obverse of the 1881 Silver Dollar

The obverse of the 1881 silver dollar features Lady Liberty, as is the case with all Morgan dollars. However, this Liberty stood out significantly from those previously appearing on coins.

Like the classical Greeks, traditional depictions of Liberty had her dressed in draped robes and with a Grecian face. Morgan, however, insisted that his Liberty be American. And Anna Willess Williams, a real-life woman, served as the model for his portrait.

The profile of Liberty’s head and neck, facing left, is depicted on the coin, and stars surround the image. The Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which translates to “From the many, one,” appears above it. The year of the issue is inscribed at the bottom of the coin.

The Reverse of the 1881 Silver Dollar

Another iconic American image, the bald eagle, is depicted on the reverse, also known as the “tails” side. With its wings spread wide and its head raised in the air, the eagle was depicted perched atop a cluster of twigs.

Nevertheless, after a few weeks of production, the design was changed. The dies were wearing out too quickly due to the high relief.

Additionally, the opportunity was used to change the eagle’s tail from having eight to seven feathers. All previous American eagles on coins had been noted to have an unusual number of tail feathers.

The phrase “United States of America” is written above the eagle and follows the curve of the coin. The bottom of the coin has the denomination “One Dollar,” and the mint mark is right above it. The words “In God we trust” are inscribed on the coin’s reverse.

1881 Silver Dollar Errors

Error coins are so named because the mint made mistakes that led to their creation. These errors are rare, so such coins can be extremely valuable.

In 2015, a San Francisco 1881 silver dollar with a reverse that had been struck through sold for $540. A curved indentation was left on the coin’s surface because something had intervened between the die and the press at a critical moment. In 2020, a San Francisco silver dollar with an obverse-filled die sold for $1,620. Liberty’s face appeared blurry because of the grease-filled die.

The rarest error coin is the one that was struck off-center. In 2007, an 1881 San Francisco dollar that was struck 5% off-center sold at auction for slightly under $3,000

1881 Morgan Silver Dollar Grading

Determining the 1881 Morgan silver dollar condition can be pretty daunting since they range from well-preserved to severely damaged. Before buying one, you must know what to check or leave the analysis to the professionals.

Uncirculated 1881 Silver Dollar

These coins are in excellent mint condition because they have never been traded publicly. The majority of collectors prefer finding any such piece free of wear.

Extremely Fine 1881 Silver Dollar

Since this coin was only in circulation for a brief time, there are absolutely no visible indications of wear and tear. Many collectors prefer these items since they are beautiful but less pricey. It requires close inspection to find minor design wear, particularly on the highest points.

Fine 1881 Silver Dollar

Despite being used for a while, this coin is not seriously affected. You can see some scratching, a lack of inner detail, and some fading of the coin’s texture.

Good 1881 Morgan Silver Dollar

It is the lowest possible grade for a coin. Such a dollar was in use for a long time, which means there are many signs of wear and tear and a general lack of essential details. Even though most people who are willing to spend more money avoid such items, collectors occasionally choose such coins when they are rare.

1881 Silver Dollar Types

1881 This coin is relatively widespread today due to Philadelphia’s 1881 production of 9,163,000 Morgan silver dollars. For less than $30, you can find a few of them that are in decent condition. However, premium coins are desirable to most collectors, enabling you to sell one in the MS 65 grade for close to $780. This particular coin is an excellent investment because you can anticipate a slight increase in its value. TABLE (move it up) (move it up) Silver Dollar Without A Mint Mark

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1881 Proof Silver Dollar

The only mint to produce Morgan-proof dollars in 1881 was the Philadelphia mint. They are now regarded as rare coins because they only made 984 coins. This dollar is unique when you consider the presence of the cameo, especially in mint condition. Only 70 1881 proof silver dollars are available with a PR 60 CAM grade. The few coins with higher grades on the list are:

  • Nine 1881 proof silver dollars graded PR 67 CAM
  • Three 1881 proof silver dollars graded MS 67+
  • One 1881 proof silver dollar graded MS 68
  • One 1881 proof silver dollar graded MS 69

You can expect to pay $3,329 for an average 1881-proof silver dollar, but high-grade, uncirculated coins are much more valuable. At an auction, one PCGS-certified proof 67 silver dollar Cameo sold for $17,625. The prices of all previous examples offered in the twenty-first century exceeded $12,000. Also, a record-breaking $46,000 was paid at auction for the 1881 Proof graded PCGS PR-67 CAM sold in August 2011.

1881 S Silver Dollar

The San Francisco mint produced 12,760,000 Morgan silver dollars in 1881. As a result, the market has a decent selection of mint-state coins.

Only four MS 69 Morgan dollar mintages, including one 1880 S PL, five 1880, and one 1896 S, have such a beautiful coin with extremely good luster and sharp strikes. Although one technically flawless coin sold for $48,875 at auction, you can find an excellent MS 65 coin for less than $200.

For less than $30, you can purchase one 1881 S silver dollar if you prefer to collect coins in average condition. Even though your coin is in poor condition, keep in mind that the silver it contains is worth $18.45, which means you can still sell it for $11.55 more.

1881 O Silver Dollar

The New Orleans mint had to increase its silver dollar production due to the increase in demand for currency following the Panic of 1873 and the subsequent economic recovery. These days, these coins’ condition, survival rate, and certification determine their value. On average, you can get a fine 1881 O silver dollar coin for less than $30. On the other hand, an MS 60-graded coin will cost you $60.

It should not come as a surprise to learn that an MS 65 piece costs between $850 and $1,500. The highest graded 1881 O silver dollar, MS 66, of the 5,708,000 coins produced, sold for a record-breaking $39,950 at auction. You should be careful when purchasing one because there are many counterfeits to this particular coin.

1881 CC Silver Dollar

Due to a lack of available local silver bullion, the Carson City mint only produced 296,000 silver dollars in 1881. Silver miners from the Comstock Lode sent this priceless metal to San Francisco that year due to the high cost of transportation.

Contrarily, you can find more Carson City 1881 CC silver dollars in mint state than any other type. The reason for this is that they were stored in Treasury Department vaults. Since 147,000 of the 1881 CC silver dollars are still in uncirculated condition, they are the most prevalent Morgan silver dollars in the mint state.

These coins are now fairly common to MS 66 but rarer above this grade. One of the finest known coins is an 1881 CC silver dollar graded MS 68, which sold for a record-breaking $67,563 at auction. But for $450 or slightly more than $1,000, you can find a relatively decent coin in very fine condition.

1881 Morgan Silver Dollar Value By USA Coin Book
Quality18811881 S1881 O1881 CC
Very good$33$33$33$380
Very fine$45$45$45$450
Extra fine$47$47$47$476
About uncirculated$51$50$50$480
Mint state 60$63$60$60$551
Mint state 65$772$200$1,497$1,010
Proof 63$3,329///

If you appreciate Morgan’s silver dollars, the 1881 coin is a true work of art. This coin was produced in five different varieties and at four different mints. The price of each type depends on the mintage, the location of production, and the coin’s condition. It would be best if you choose the option best suits your preferences and financial position.

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