Silver Dollar Blog Posts - November 2011

1882 Silver Dollar Metal Detecting Find

Nov 28, 2011
1882 Silver Dollar1882 Morgan Silver Dollar

I have another metal detecting video for you today. First find is an 1882 Morgan Dollar! Glad to see he didn't completely rub all the dirt off with his fingers. You will get so excited wrapped up in the moment of the find, but even in the excitement you can't rub the dirt into your coin.

I always think of these two rules when it comes to cleaning your finds
1. Never clean your coins.
2. Refer back to rule 1.

You have to remember dirt is like sandpaper between your finger and the coin. When you start rubbing that dirt off you will scratch the coin. I know it's hard to be patient, you might know you're holding a Morgan Dollar and really want to know the date and and where it was minted, but be patient. Don't be tempted to rub it with your fingers or your even your pants or shirt.  Just pack that coin up and take it home.. Now if I are finding clad coins it doesn't really matter if you clean them now or at home. 

1882 is indeed an exciting year to find. The first Morgan Silver Dollar was minted in 1878 so they had only been around for 5 years.  I would love to know the history of this coin, who was it that owned this 1882 Silver Dollar before they lost it.  I think that is one of my favorite parts of collecting coins whether it is finding them or purchasing them. Just feeling the history behind each coin.


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The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys

Nov 25, 2011

Today I wanted to talk about a great book that every Morgan Dollar VAM enthusiast should look at. It's "The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys". It's currently on it's 4th Edition and was originally published in 2009. This book goes into detail on the varieties as well as pricing and rarity information. If you're into VAMs, this is a great book to have.

Official description of The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys:

This is the latest updated edition of a best selling selling book that created a revolution in collecting and investing in Morgan silver dollar varieties. The 4th edition contains new and fully illustrated Top 100 varieties, updated pricing, updated rarity information, certified populations and condition census data as well as a new chapter on rotated reverses. If you own silver dollars from 1878-1921, collect them, or are looking to acquire some of the rarest most desirable examples, this book is a must read. You should buy this book before you buy or sell another silver dollar!

The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys is available for only $29.95 at Amazon.

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Knowing the Sheldon Grading System

Nov 22, 2011

PCGS Morgan DollarEver wonder what the MS63 or MS60 mean on a graded Morgan Dollar? William Herbert Sheldon thought of a grading system in 1948 for coins. He wanted to standardize coin grading by proposing what we now refer to as the Sheldon Scale.1 is a very poor coin you can barely tell that is a coin, and 70 is perfect!

The Sheldon Grading Scale

PO-1 (Poor) you can barely tell it’s a coin with it being damaged or worn, but you can tell the date and type of coin.

FR-2 (Fair) some details are visible, but for the most part extremely worn.

AG-3 (About Good) Worn out spots, but some lettering should be present and readable

G-4 (Good) over all the coin is still heavily warm, but some features and detail can be seen.

VG-8 (Very Good) Most of the legends are clearly readable, but the coin on a whole is still worn. The rim is full with clear features.

F-12 (Fine) The coin is moderately worn, but worn out evenly. All lettering is sharp.

VF-20 (Very Fine) all lettering full and sharp plus some definition of detail

EF-40 (Extra Fine) Slight but obvious wear on the high points, legends are sharp.

AU-50 (Almost Uncirculated) – There must be a little remaining mint luster as well as sharp legends and devices that show only traces of wear on the highest points.

The first part of the scale 1-59 would be circulated coins.

What does the MS stand for in coins?

The MS on a coin stands for Mint State. Uncirculated coins are MS60-MS70 on the Sheldon Grading Scale. The grade depends on the sharpness of the strike as well as the number of scratches, nicks, bag marks, etc. A majority of uncirculated Morgan’s will appear around grade M60. Only an extreme few will meet the grade for a M70 since M70 is perfect according to Sheldon’s definition there will be no blemishes at all. M70 also means a sharply struck coin with the die in good condition.

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What is the difference between Bullion and Numismatic coins?

Nov 17, 2011
1921 Silver Dollar

What is a Bullion Coin?

A bullion coin is usually purchased as an investment. A bullion coin will follow the market as the price of silver goes up so does the value of your bullion coin. And of course when the market goes down so does the value of your bullion coin.  Popular bullion coins folks buy are the American silver eagle which is 99.90% silver bullion and the Canadian silver maple leaf which is 99.99.

As a side note you can also buy silver rounds which are sometimes referred to as generic silver rounds. These are usually 1 troy ounce and will have many different designs to choose from. You can even have them engraved to say Happy Birthday if you like. These are called rounds because the term "coin" is reserved for US mint issued "coins". Usually you will pay a slightly less premium for a silver round vs. a silver bullion coin. 

What is a Numismatic Coin?

First off the definition of Numismatic is the study or collection of currency including coins, token, paper money and related objects. Numismatic not only applies to the person collecting, but also coin dealers and scholars really it's anyone interested in the study of coins.

Numismatic coins also see value in their metal content rise and fall with the market. The numismatic coin will also have value in  the rarity of the coin as well as the condition of the coin. The Sheldon scale is a popular way to grade coins. Which started from a numismatist named William Herbert Sheldon who proposed the idea of the Sheldon scale. The Sheldon scale runs 0 - 70 with 0 being the poorest quality coin, but you can tell it's a coin, and 70 being perfect. The top three recognized grading services are PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service), ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service), and NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation)

Collecting coins is a long term passion, a life time passion and a personal decision. When you first decide you want to collect coins you might chose random coins to collect, but after awhile you will narrow your search to what interests you the most whether it's Morgan Dollars or Peace Dollars even Indian Head Pennies. Or you might want to collect all US coins; again it’s a personal choice. It doesn't matter what ever your passion is let it take you there. Dive in the history of your collection you will be rewarded.

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1882 Silver Dollar

Nov 14, 2011

1882 Silver Dollar

1882 Silver Dollar

Mintage Circulation strikes: 11,100,000
Proofs: 1,100
There is no mint mark on the coin which means it was minted in Philadelphia.

1882-CC Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation strikes: 1,113,000
Proofs: 0
Minted in Carson City – CC

1882-S Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation Strikes: 9,250,000
Proofs: 0
Minted in San Francisco– S

1882-O Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation strikes: 6,090,000
Proofs: 0
Minted in New Orleans– O

Random Fact of 1882

Chester A. Arthur was the president of the United States (September 19th, 1881 - March 4th 1885)
Born in 1830 passed away in 1886 due to the rupture of a small artery within the brain.

As we near Christmas this is a good random fact; Edward H. Johnson, vice president of Thomas Edison Electric Light Company invented the first string of Christmas lights in 1882. The lights consisted of 80 hand blown, hand wired glass bulbs wrapped in red, white and blue crepe paper. The first electrically lighted Christmas tree was in the rear parlor of Thomas Edison associate Edward H. Johnson's home. However tree lights would not be sold commercially until the next century.

First world series game, Cincinnati beat Chicago 4-0

New York's Pearl Street Station was the first district lit by electricity

Coins minted in the year 1882
1882 Indian Head Cent
1882 Morgan Dollar
1882 Seated Liberty Dime
1882 Seated Liberty Half Dollar
1882 Shield Nickel
1882 Nickel Three Cent Proof

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Who was George T. Morgan?

Nov 11, 2011

Philadelphia Mint Engravers(Morgan is in the bottom row, second from the right)

Who was George T. Morgan?

George T. Morgan was born in Birmingham, England in 1845 where he attended the Birmingham Art School. He won a national scholarship to South Kensington Art School where he studied for two years until he moved on to study under Wyon for 4 years at the Royal Mint in London.

In 1876 Henry Richard Linderman director of the mint in the U.S. was looking for someone to redesign the nations silver coins. Linderman touched base with the royal mint in London inquiring if they knew any "first class die-sinkers" The search lead to Morgan who was well respected for the work he had done at the royal mint in London.

Morgan moves to Philadelphia

At the age of 31 Morgan made the voyage to the United States where he was given the appointment of assistant engraver under chief engraver William Barber.  Morgan reported directly to Henry Linderman, director of the mint. Even though Linderman had his office in Washington D.C. and Morgan was in Philadelphia they corresponded via mail.

In 1876 Morgan enrolled in the Fine Arts of Philadelphia where he studied Greek figures. He was also taking this time to study all he could about Eagles in nature. Soon he began his search for a model to pose as the “Goddess of Liberty”. His friend, Thomas Eakins, introduced Morgan to Miss Anna Willess Williams a young lady of 19. Although she was very modest and didn't really want to pose she ended up doing so and had 5 sittings with Morgan.  Nobody even knew her identity until 1879 when a newspaper man saw a photograph of her and knew Miss Anna Willess Williams was the “Goddess of Liberty”. Miss Williams ended up becoming a school teacher and philosophical writer. The attention was a bit much for her when the world found out who she was, but after things settled down she married in 1896.

Both Barber and Morgan sent samples of the Silver Dollar to Linderman where he would decide which to use. Obviously he chooses Morgan’s - Morgan Silver Dollar. Morgan worked under William Barber until he passed away in 1879. The he then served under William Barber's son Charles Barber until 1917. When Charles Barber passed away Morgan was appointed chief engraver for the U.S. mint. Morgan held the title of chief engraver until his death 1925, he was 79 years old.

Photo Source for Philadelphia Mint Engravers

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Are all New Orleans Mint of bad quality?

Nov 09, 2011

New Orleans Mint

A little history about the New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans minted United States coins from 1838- 1861 as well as from 1879-1909. Take note the first year Morgan Dollars were minted in 1878, but the first New Orleans Morgan Dollar was in 1879 when 2,212,000 strikes were minted for circulation.

The New Orleans mint located in New Orleans, Louisiana minted over 427 million gold and silver coins during its time. The only time it was closed was during a good part of the American Civil war and reconstruction. Although the mint was technically closed during the civil war the Confederate Army did mint some confederate coins at the New Orleans mint. When the mint closed its doors in 1909 the building served many other purposes, but the last being the Louisiana State Museum. In 2005 the damage done by hurricane Katrina was massive. The roof leaked and produced a good amount of water damage inside the building. But after 2 years of hard work the doors to the Louisiana State Museum re-opened.

Why did New Orleans earn a reputation for Mediocre Quality?

The New Orleans Mint earned a reputation for having mediocre quality. Lust and brilliance just not quite like the other mints. Why? Some say it's because of the humid conditions down south and the working conditions were extremely tough. The climate in that area can be very wet, humid and oh so hot.  Others say it was the fact New Orleans was allocated presses and dies that weren't in that great of condition to begin with or used the dies they had for too long.

The best article I have read on the subject is by CamaroDMD on CoinTalk – “The Truth about New Orleans Mint Morgan Dollars”. He agrees that New Orleans has produced its fair share of poorly stuck coins.  But he also believes you must look at each year to see if it indeed it is a bad strike, don't just write New Orleans as a bad strike for every coin ever minted.

What is your opinion? Would you agree there are some nicely struck Morgan’s that came from the New Orleans Mint? Would love to hear your response log into Morgan Dollars on FaceBook and join the conversation

Image Source: Library of Congress

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Nice deal on Air-Tite coin holders at Amazon

Nov 08, 2011

After a discussion about Dansco albums on our Facebook page, another option was also pointed out - Air-Tite coin holders. Air-Tite are hard, clear acrylic coin capsules that contain no PVC to damage coins. It is a two piece design that snaps together with the coin encased within. These can be then stored loose, or within custom Air-Tite coin albums.

Currently at Amazon, you can purchase 250 Air-Tite Direct Fit "H38" coin holders for Morgan Dollars for $79.95. That comes to .32ea. Not bad.

Here is the official description:

Air-Tite holders are made from an acrylic plastic with a non-yellowing agent to ensure the crystal clear display of your coins for any length of time. All materials used in the production of the holders are totally inert and PVC free. The Direct Fit holders are designed to securely hold and display your mint condition coins without a ring. Coins in less than mint condition might rattle around due to wear and should be held in a ring holder for secure storage.
View other Air-Tite products currently available at Amazon.

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PCGS Morgan Dollars

Nov 07, 2011

PCGS Morgan Dollars

Ever wonder how the PCGS Grades your PCGS Morgan Dollars?

Professional Coin Grading Service more commonly referred to as PCGS has been around since 1985 grading coins. In that time they have certified millions of coins creating the largest third party grading and authentication service in the world.  

Itemize your package - Once your package arrives at PCGS your coin is itemized and locked into the system based on your request and payment. After they have verified all your personal information they remove any personal information and assign only a generic order number. By doing this they ensure that the graders don't know who owns the coin. Once this stage is done an email is sent to the customer informing them the coin has been received and will move on to the next stage

Next is Sticker Stage - The coins are counted again and will receive a label on the outside of each coin flip. This label has the individual certification number that will appear on the PCGS label when it is returned to you. It also has the order number; all this information is kept in the database so it can be tracked at each stage of processing.

Which brings us to the grading phase - In general most coins will pass through at least 3-4 graders before the grading process is complete. Each coin is distributed to graders based on their grading expertise. The order is first sent to grader number one who first determines whether the coin is authentic or not. They must check for any alterations to the coin as well as note the strike, amount of marks, luster, and quality of toning plus over all eye appeal of the coin. Then grader number 1 enters their information in the computer and assigns a grade to the coin in question.  The coin is then sent to grader number two who is not allowed to see what grader number one has assigned the coin. Grader number two then enters their opinion into the computer. If the opinion of grader one and grader two do not match the coin is sent to a third grader who breaks the tie.  After the 3rd grader breaks the tie the coin is still assigned to yet a forth grader to make sure to grade is consistent and accurate.

The PCGS grading system 1-70 has been accepted universally through out the industry. 70 being the best grade given and 1 being the poorest grade, but the date is still identifiable and the type of coin.

Next labels are printed with the appropriate grade, unique certification number, variety if any and coin number, the denomination and date.  Next the Sealing department takes over and seals the coin with the appropriate holders. The coin is then taken to the sonic sealing room where their tamper evident holders are used to seal your coin in its new PCGS holder.

Verification Stage -Still the process isn't complete they now send your coin to a world class grader who checks for accuracy and consistency, no coin leaves without at least 2 world class graders inspecting the coin. If at this point the world class grader doesn't agree with the grading. The coin is unsealed and sent back through the entire grading system again.  If it passes the coin moves to the final quality control check point. This is when your generic order number is reunited with your original personal information. All information is double checked in the computer and on the new PCGS graded coin label. The new containers are checked for defects or scratches at this point as well.  Now back to you! The coin is sent to the shipping department where the order is packed and shipped back to you!
With so many steps taken to ensure the proper grading of your coin it is easy to see why so many people trust the PCGS label! Be sure to check out Morgan Dollars for Sale to find your next PCGS Morgan Dollars for sale!


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Dansco Albums for Morgan Dollars

Nov 06, 2011

A few days ago I asked what some of you were using to store non-slabbed Morgan Dollars, and a few of you mentioned Dansco albums. For those that aren't familiar with the term 'Slabbed', slapped coins are graded and enclosed in slab of plastic. Loose coins are just that, loose. Usually in a pile or rolls, etc.

Definitely Dansco albums are some of the best albums to store and to present your coin collections. Dansco offers Morgan Dollar albums like the Morgan Dollar Album 1891 - 1921 Dansco 7179 at Amazon. Which is a great way to present sets for years.

Some of you that have loose Morgans don't want them rattling around in a box or bag can store unordered Morgans in plain Dansco pages. These pages are great way to stack and sort those Morgans! You can pick up blank Dansco Morgan Dollar pages for only $7.99 at Amazon.

Take care of your Morgan Dollar collection and investments with Dansco albums!

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Stack's Bowers 2011 November Baltimore Auction

Nov 05, 2011

More than 8,000 lots including U.S. and world coins and currency as well as Morgan Dollars will be up for auction part of the Teich Family Collection which will be crossing the block this November.  Stack's Bowers is the official auction of the Whitman coin and Collectibles Baltimore Expo.

The Teich Family started collecting coins back in the 1950's. The husband and wife team as well as their 3 children would come into Stacks on Wednesday. That was their day in the city when they would by coins . Over the decades they came to have quite a collection. They loved collecting U.S. Proof coins! The family kept great care of their collection over the years. Even some of their coins were in the same original lot envelope from when they purchased them back in the 1950's!

Below is a list of a few of the coins that will be up for auction, but there are so many more! Be sure to check out for the entire list!

Session #1 - November 2011 Baltimore Auction- US Session 1
Numismatic Americana
Half Cents
Large Cents
Small Cents
Two-Cent Pieces
Silver Three-Cent Pieces
Nickel Three-Cent Pieces
Nickel Five-Cent Pieces
Half Dimes
Modern Dollars
Modern Commemoratives
Proof Sets
Hawaiian Coins
Mint Errors
Sets and Partial Sets Rolls
Miscellaneous U.S. Coins
Lots in Session: 1-1615 / 1615 lots

Session #2
Session #2 - November 2011 Baltimore Auction- US Session 2
Twenty-Cent Pieces
Quarter Dollars
Half Dollars
Early Silver Dollars
Gobrecht Silver Dollars
Liberty Seated Silver Dollars
Morgan Silver Dollars
GSA Dollars
Lots in Session: 2001-3173 / 1173 lots

Be sure to check out there site because there is a whole lot more than that up for auction! Remember they mentioned over 8,000 lots!

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1881 Silver Dollar

Nov 02, 2011

1881 Silver Dollar

1881 Silver Dollar

1881 Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation strikes: 9,162,991
Proofs: 984
There is no mint mark on the coin which means it was minted in Philadelphia.

1881-CC Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation strikes: 296,000
Proofs: 0
Minted in Carson City – CC

1881-S Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation Strikes: 12,760,000
Proofs: 0
Minted in San Francisco– S

1881-O Silver Dollar
Mintage Circulation strikes: 5,708,000
Minted in New Orleans– O

The 1881-S Silver Dollar is the most common date in the series.  San Francisco mint had 12,760,000 strikes that year compared to Carson City that had the least amount of strikes at 296,000.

Random Facts of 1881

The 20th President was in office - (March 4th 1881- September 19th 1881)
James A. Garfield (1831-1881)
James A. Garfield was shot on July 2nd, 1881 by Charles J Guiteau. On September 19th, 1881 eleven weeks later President James A. Garfield died. At first he wasn't expected to last the night, but when he survived through the night there was hope. With the bullet still inside of him fevers would came and go. The doctors used unsterilized fingers in an attempt to probe for the bullet. In the end he died from a massive heart attack or a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm as well as blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia. The Vice President Chester A. Arthur becomes the 21st president, 1881-1885.

On January 25th, 1881 the Oriental Telephone Company as a result of an agreement between Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.

Photo credit for the 1881 Silver Dollar goes to richclaw's 

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Circulation Years

Misc Categories - The easiest way to complete your Morgan Silver Dollar collection. Morgan Dollars minted from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921

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