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The Allure of the 1903-S Morgan Silver Dollar

The 1903-S Morgan dollar holds a special place in the hearts of coin collectors. With a total estimated surviving mintage of less than 150,000 coins, it is one of the scarcest San Francisco Morgan dollars out there. But it’s not just its rarity that makes it so coveted. The sharp strike and deep luster of the 1903-S Morgan dollar make it a must-have for any serious collector.

A Brief History

In the Western U.S., silver and gold coins were used in commerce long after the East Coast had embraced paper money. This meant that many 1903-S Morgan dollars were released into circulation, just like most San Francisco mintages. However, only a small number of these coins were found in the GSA coin hoards of the 1960s, which sparked a renewed interest in collecting Morgan dollars.

The Value of the 1903-S Morgan Dollar

The 1903-S Morgan dollar is considered a key date, and its exceptional luster and sharp strike only add to its allure. Interestingly, this coin is actually rarer in Mint State (uncirculated) grades MS61-MS62 than in higher grades.

A Price Guide to the 1903-S Morgan Dollar

If you’re wondering about the value of a 1903-S Morgan dollar, here’s a brief price guide:

Circulated Grades

  • Very Fine 25: $225
  • Extremely Fine 45: $450
  • About Uncirculated 55: $2,500
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Uncirculated (Mint State) Grades

  • Mint State 61: $5,800
  • Mint State 63: $7,750
  • Mint State 65: $11,000
  • Auction Record (MS67): $86,250

Please note that these prices are for Mint State coins only. Proof and prooflike examples of this issue may have different “finest known” and auction prices.

The World of Uncirculated Morgan Dollars

When it comes to uncirculated coins, the story behind them is fascinating. These coins typically come from sealed canvas Mint bags and are acquired by passionate coin collectors. Uncirculated coins exhibit complete mint luster and no “post-Mint” damage. However, it’s important to note that “uncirculated” doesn’t mean “undamaged.”

Despite being unused, Morgan dollars could still suffer damage from being tossed around in the large canvas bags alongside other coins. These coins often bear “bag marks” caused by colliding with one another. But as long as a Morgan dollar retains its mint luster and doesn’t show signs of circulation wear, it will be graded as Mint State.

The Various Mint State Grades

Mint State coins are graded on a scale from MS60 (worst) to MS70 (perfect). Let’s take a closer look at some of the Mint State grades for the 1903-S Morgan dollar:

Mint State 61

A coin graded as MS61 will show substantial mint damage, often in prime focal areas. It may have numerous bag marks, small gouges, and other unattractive blemishes. Unless it is a rare mintage, most coin collectors won’t invest in professional grading for such a coin.

Mint State 63

Coins in MS63 (and MS64) are more appealing than lower grades, boasting good strikes and mint luster. However, they may still have enough marks or scuffs to be distracting, especially in prime focal areas. MS63 and MS64 grades are popular among coin collectors as they are more attractive than lower grades but not as expensive as MS65 coins.

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Mint State 65

Also known as “Gem Uncirculated,” a Mint State 65 Morgan dollar is a sight to behold. It showcases a sharp strike, full luster, and scattered light marks. Prime focal areas remain untouched, with only light friction marks on the eagle’s breast or Liberty’s cheek due to its time spent in a bulk canvas bag within Treasury vaults. The significant difference in price between a MS65 and a MS63 of the same date is a testament to the higher attractiveness of the former.

Mint State 66

MS66 Morgan dollars are rare, even when compared to MS65 coins. They boast a clean, sharp strike and are characterized by pleasing, full original luster. With minimal imperfections or light marks that barely detract from their overall appearance, MS66 Morgan dollars are highly sought after by collectors.

And there you have it—the allure of the 1903-S Morgan silver dollar. Its rarity, exceptional luster, and strike make it a prized possession for any coin collector. Whether you’re exploring its historical significance or gazing at its beauty, the 1903-S Morgan dollar holds a special place in the world of numismatics.

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