How much is an 1879 silver dollar worth?

In the late 1800s, silver dollars were used as a currency and they were in wide circulation. One of such coins minted in 1879 is now a commodity that’s mostly sought after by the collector community. The coin isn’t that rare but it’s still noticeable enough that it’s worth selling and that there will always be buyers for it.

The value of the dollar today depends on a variety of factors including the fact that it’s made from silver, meaning that it will always be worth at least its value in silver. It also depends on supply and demand as well as the condition of the coin.

History of the coin

The coin has a rich history because it came about due to the recently discovered silver mines that have created a silver rush in the 1850s. The sudden discovery of silver almost ended the gold rush that was happening in California at the same time.

In order to utilize the newly found silver, the government used a Bland-Alison Act, which mandates the government to purchase a large amount of silver from the Comstock Lode mines and use it to create silver currency.

The 1879 dollar itself was created by George T. Morgan a famous silver engraver that has a series of coins named after him. Morgan emigrated to the US from Britain and was hired to design coins for the government in 1876.

Mintmarks of 1879 dollar

Mintmarks of 1879 dollar

The silver dollar comes in five mintmarks and six variations. Each of the mints represents a different city. The initials that represent these cities are minted below the bow on the backside of the coin or under the tail of the eagle’s right.

These mintmarks now play a role in deciding the value of the coin because they are not equally rare and the coins with the marks that are less frequently tend to be worth more to the collectors.

The coins that were minted in Philadelphia mint have no marks whatsoever. The letters “CC” on the back of the coin are there to represent a Carson Mint. They are worth more. Those that are marked with the letter S are minted in San Francisco. The letter O represents New Orleans mint, and the letter D marks Colorado.

The condition

The condition of the coin is another important part of how the value of it will be determined. The collectors are usually looking for a coin that’s in great condition meaning that all the features of the coins can be displayed and noticeable. The coins that aren’t in good condition can also be sold, but they will mostly be valued by the amount of silver used to make them.

There’s a grading system put in place to explain how well the coin is kept and it too has a role in how it will be priced.

The coins are known as:

  • Very fine if “two-thirds of Liberty’s hairlines from above her forehead her ear are visible.”
  • Extremely fine when the hairline and ears of Lady Liberty look strong
  • MS 60 Uncirculated condition – that’s a coin that hasn’t been used at all, but a few stains and blemishes are tolerated
  • MS 65 Uncirculated condition – There’s a strong eye appeal and a few light contact marks are tolerated.
  • PR 63 Proof condition – There are no flaws and blemishes and the coin has a reflective surface

The value

The value
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The coin that’s been circulated is valued at its price in silver. As is the case with any other precious metals the value of silver fluctuates and when the coin is sold it’s sold for the price of silver on the day when the coin is sold. At the time of this writing, silver is worth $25.8 per ounce. That means that the coin will probably be worth about $20.

The silver dollar of 1879 with no mint markings will be worth more and it can go for about $32 if it’s in fine condition. If it’ in extremely fine condition it can go for about $35. MS grade uncirculated coin is worth about $70. Uncirculated coin in an MS 65 condition is worth around $450.

When it comes to rarer coins that have mint markings the price will go up as well. The coin with a CC marking will be worth about $310 in fine condition. When it’s in an extremely fine condition the coin will be worth about $775. The coins that haven’t been circulated are worth much more. If it wasn’t circulated and it has an MS 60 grade it can be sold for $4.000. Uncirculated coin with the MS 65 grade is worth $42.500.

When it comes to the coins that are marked with an O mintmark they are worth much less since they are more common and easier to find. In fine condition, it’s worth about $42 for one silver coin. In an extremely fine condition, it’s worth about $45. MS 60 uncirculated silver dollar is worth $120. MS 65 uncirculated dollar is worth as much as $2450.

Silver dollars from 1879 that are marked with an S can be sold for about $75 if it’s in very fine condition. If the coin is in the extremely fine condition it can go for about $100. An uncirculated coin with an MS 60 grade goes for $120 and an MS 65 can go for $4500.

Proof coins can be sold for about $3200 if there’s no mintmark on them. There are about 1100 of them in circulation altogether.

How to handle 1879 coin

How to handle 1879 coin

Since it’s a rather old silver coin and its value depends on how well preserved it is, it’s essential that you know how to handle the coin in order to preserve and even if it’s possible to increase its value. The first thing to know is that the coin shouldn’t be cleaned since that’s the best way to prove that it’s old and that it’s been used.

If the coin wasn’t used before that too is noticeable in its condition and once again there’s nothing to do with it, in order to keep the pristine condition of the silver and the coin.  If the coin has been cleaned and its condition improved most collectors will simply pass on the purchase.

The coin should be handled by the edges and stored in a dry and dark place. It’s best not to keep it in a wooden box since it will eventually damage the silver over time. It’s also useful to find ways to keep it dry and there are clothes that do just that and in which you can wrap it.

Which one to buy?

This is a difficult question to answer since it depends on a variety of factors. The collectors are looking for these dollars based on their rarity and they would look for a dollar that’s been minted in the smallest amount of copies. That means that it depends on which mint was used. Collectors are also looking for a coin that’s preserved as much as it can be.

If you’re purchasing these coins to resell them, it’s possible to make a profit from all of them. The same rule applies in terms of rarity, but it’s also useful to purchase ordinary coins put in circulation since their value can go up when the price of silver does.

How to verify it?

There are forgeries of this coin even today and a new print of fakes come out in 2014. That’s why it’s important to verify if the coins you’re trying to sell or buy are real.  This starts with knowing the minting history and the features of the coin that are well known to the public.

It’s also useful to know the measurements and the weight of the coin since that can easily be checked when you’re inspecting the coin that has come to your possession.

The old rule goes, if something is too good to be true that means it’s probably not true. That’s something to be applied if you find a silver 1879 coin that’s in too good a condition and that comes at too good a price. All of these can be further approved by a professional in the field, although their services may be too expensive for a less valuable coin.

Conclusion

A silver coin that was minted in 1879 is now a sought-after possession for those who collect the coins and are fascinated by its history. There are a lot of them out there but not all of these coins are in the same condition. Therefore, there’s a difference in the value the coins can achieve on the market.

The value you could get depends on the amount of silver that is used to mint the coin – it will always be worth its weight in gold. The place where the coin was minted and well preserved it is, will determine how much a particular piece is valued.

Do you have an 1879 silver coin? How well kept is it?

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