1882 Silver Dollar: How Much Does it Cost?

Posted - March 4, 2022
1882 Silver Dollar: How Much Does it Cost?

Coin collecting has been around for as long as there have been coins. It is estimated that coin collecting began around 700-650 BC, which is almost 3000 years! There is a special kind of excitement when going through a jar of coins and looking at all the different designs, but nothing can match the feeling of finding a rare gem. One coin both hobbyist and serious collectors alike set their sights on is the Morgan Dollar. If you are lucky enough, you will find an 1882 Silver Dollar!

So, what was going on in 1882? Chester A. Arthur was the sitting U.S. President, but he was originally voted to office as the vice president to James A. Garfield in 1880. Unfortunately, President Garfield was assassinated in 1881, thus placing Arthur in charge of a nation coming to grips with the aftermath of the Civil War just 16 years earlier. Uniquely, President Arthur oversaw the country without the help of a vice president. On a lighter note, Thomas Edison created the first string of Christmas Lights, ensuring the holiday season would be festive and colorful for future generations.

In regards to the coin itself, the American Silver Dollar weighs 26.73 grams and has a diameter of 1.5 inches. This makes the 1882 Silver Dollar one of the largest coins in American circulation. Due to its limited minting and unique history, the Silver Dollar is a rare coin and is sought after by both serious and everyday coin collectors. True to its name, the Silver Dollar is made of 90% silver, unlike coins minted today, which are made from copper and nickel. Due to the high level of silver, the 1882 Silver Dollar not only holds its value, but usually increases in price each year. There is always a market for this coin due to its minting run, visual attractiveness, and precious metal composition.

The 1882 Silver Dollar sets itself apart from other American coins by the detailed face of Lady Liberty on the front. The front of the coin is called the obverse side. On the back of the coin, also known as the reverse side, is an imprinted American Bald Eagle. This coin was designed by George T. Morgan in 1878.

1882 Silver Dollar History

The history of your 1882 Silver Dollar does not begin in America, but across the Atlantic Ocean.  George T. Morgan was born on November 24, 1845 in Birmingham, England. In his early years he worked as a dye engraver but then Morgan found his way to America where, in 1876, he answered the call to be an assistant engraver at the Mint of Philadelphia.

In 1876 there were four mint locations in America: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Carson City, Nevada, San Francisco, California and New Orleans, Louisiana. Since then, two of the locations have changed. Today, there are mints in Philadelphia and San Francisco, as well as Denver, Colorado and West Point, New York.

George T. Morgan designed his now famous coin, also known as the Morgan Dollar, in 1878, while still an assistant engraver at the Philadelphia mint. Production of the Morgan Dollar started on March 11, 1878, with the first minted coin given to the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes. Soon after, the mints in San Francisco and Carson City started to produce the coin. In 1879, New Orleans minted its first Morgan Silver Dollar.

After creating the Morgan Dollar, George T. Morgan wasn’t done leaving his impression on American History and the minting world. He not only designed the American Silver Dollar, but also created the $100 Gold Union coin, which was never released. In 1917, he was appointed Chief Engraver of the United States, a title he held until his death in 1925.

The Morgan Dollar was minted consistently from 1878-1904, then stopped until 1921 when it was last produced for circulation. The 1882 Silver Dollar was part of a printing run that lasted only 27 years. This alone makes the Morgan Dollar a rarity, but something else happened that created the craze for this coin throughout the collecting world.

In 1918, the U.S. Government passed the Pittman Act. This law was established to assist England during the First World War. The act stated “sales of silver bullion under authority of this act may be for the purpose of conserving the existing stock of gold in the United States, of providing silver for subsidiary coinage and for commercial use, and of assisting foreign governments at war with the enemies of the United States”. The Pittman Act authorized the U.S. to melt up to 350,000,000 silver dollars, of which 270,232,722 coins were destroyed.

Identifying the 1882 Silver Dollar

The Morgan Dollar sticks out in a crowd. While many coins, like nickels and quarters look silver, they are made of nickel and copper. Your Morgan Dollar is true silver and is substantially larger than those other coins. For comparison, the 1882 Silver Dollar is 1.5 inches in diameter, while the American Quarter is less than an inch in diameter. 

Looking at the coin, you will find Lady Liberty prominently displayed and facing left on the obverse side. This is a major clue that you are holding a Morgan Dollar. On the reverse side you will find the ultimate American symbol, the Bald Eagle, holding a bundle of arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other. Below the American Bald Eagle is the denomination amount. If you see “One Dollar,” you know you are holding a piece of history.

Once you know you have a Morgan Dollar, the next step is to identify what year it was minted. If you look on the obverse side, below Lady Liberty’s neck, you will see the four-digit year it was made. If you are lucky enough to see 1882, you are in possession of a true collector’s item.

The excitement of finding an 1882 Silver Dollar is one of the many joys of coin collecting. If you are unsure of what you have in your hands, please refer to any of the online resources available to assist in confirming your coin as well as determining the price of your treasured find.

1882 Silver Dollar Value

What is your 1882 Silver Dollar worth? Two factors determine the value of a coin. One is the mintmark, which annotates where the coin was minted. In 1882 there were only four mints that produced your Morgan Dollar; Philadelphia, Carson City, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Each mint, except Philadelphia, marked each coin to verify where it was minted. You can find the mint mark above the “O” in ‘dollar’ on the reverse side. Below are the mint marks found on your 1882 Silver Dollar:

        No Mark: The Philadelphia Mint

        CC: The Carson City Mint

        S: The San Francisco Mint

        O: The New Orleans Mint

Each of the four United States Mints produced different amounts of coins in 1882. For this reason, different mint marks equal different values. For better understanding, the Carson City Mint only produced 1,133,000 silver dollars making the CC mint mark a defining feature as the most valuable 1882 Silver Dollar. The New Orleans Mint produced 6,090,000 making it the second rarest coin of 1882. The San Francisco Mint produced 9,250,000 silver dollars and the Philadelphia Mint produced 11,100,000 silver dollars.

While this may seem like a lot of coins, it is fewer than other years. For perspective, the 1890 minting of the Silver Dollar totaled 38,042,514. The 1882 minting was more than 10,000,000 less than that of 1890. Of these 1882 coins, it is unknown how many are still around due to the aforementioned Pittman Act, which resulted in millions of Morgan Dollars being melted down. 

An estimate from the Professional Coin Grading Service states that maybe less than 10% of all Morgan Dollars are still in existence. If that is the case, out of the 27,573,000 silver dollars minted in 1882, less than 2,757,300 are still around. This is why your 1882 Silver Dollar is so special and rare.

Now that we have covered the mintmark, the next variable that determines your 1882 Silver Dollar value is the condition. Wear and tear on a coin comes from how long it was in circulation and how many times your coin was passed from buyer to seller. As you might expect, the less wear and tear on your coin the more valuable it is. Conversely, if there is more wear and tear the less valuable. There are a few grading systems to determine your coins value and here is one example.

– Good (G): A good grade means the coin was circulated and used often and for a long time. This wear and tear leads to chipping and scratching on the face thus devaluing the overall price of the coin. While these aren’t the cream of the crop, they will still be an excellent addition to anyone’s collection.

– Fine (F): A fine grade is for coins that have been in circulation, but are not heavily damaged. Some of the shine has worn off due to being exchanged between multiple sets of customers and vendors. There will be some scratches on the coin’s surface. 

– Extremely Fine (EF): An extremely fine grade is given to coins that have not been circulated consistently or for a long period of time. While these coins appear to be new and shiny, upon closer scrutiny you can see faint signs of wear and tear, such as minute scratches and dings. Besides an uncirculated or proof coin, these are a collectors dream. Since these coins have luster and shine, they are cheaper alternatives than the uncirculated/proof coins for collectors.

– Uncirculated (MS): An uncirculated grade is for those coins determined to have spent little to no time in circulation. These coins have their original shine with no scratches or dings.

– Brilliant Uncirculated (MS): A brilliant uncirculated grade is for those few coins that have never been in circulation. These coins are not scratched and have retained their original luster.

We understand that not everyone is an expert, but the above should give you an idea of what you have. We recommend looking online for more support or contacting a local coin collector for a true price.

Where To Sell An 1882 Silver Dollar

There are a few options when it comes to selling your 1882 Silver Dollar. Each option has their pros and cons.

– Sell to a Coin Shop: A coin shop is going to know your coins value and condition, which will give you a true understanding of the value of your silver dollar. While this is a fast way to sell your coin, they will not buy it for full price. They are a business and need to make money, they will buy for a lower price, sometimes 30-40% below market rate.

– Sell to a Pawn Shop: A Pawn Shop is another way to sell you coins fast as they are in almost every town. The downside to selling at a Pawn Shop is that they may not know how much your coin is worth. If you haven’t done your research, you may not get anything near what it is worth. Much like the coin shop, even if they know what your coin is worth, they will not give you full price for it.

– Physical Auction: If you know what your coin is worth, want to get a good price, and do not have an immediate need to sell, a Physical Auction could be a good alternative. You will need to find an auction house and ask if they are selling coins. There is a catch though, the auction house will charge you either a percentage of the sale value or a flat fee to use their services.

– Online Marketplace: There are many trusted online sites that sell coins. Be aware that some sites charge higher fees than others to sell your items. Some only charge a fee if the sale reaches a certain amount. This is probably the best way to get the most money for your 1882 Silver Dollar; you just have to do your homework beforehand.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 1882 Silver Dollar

Q: What is the most valuable Morgan Dollar?

A: For the 1882 circulation, the most valuable mint mark is from Carson City. According to usacoinbook.com, the Carson City version of the 1882 Silver Dollar ranges from $90 for Good, up to $603 for Brilliant Uncirculated.

Q: How pure is the silver in a Morgan Silver Dollar?

A: The 1882 Silver Dollar was minted with .7734 pure silver, which is less than many silver coins today. A reminder though, the value of this coin comes from more than its silver content. The rarity and historical significance of this coin makes it a collector’s item, keeping the demand high.

Q: Are all Morgan Dollars valuable?

 A: Yes, all 1882 Silver Dollars are worth more than their face value. The silver content alone makes this coin worth ten times or more than its face value. As mentioned, the most important factors in the value of the Morgan Dollar are the mintmark and condition.

Q: Were 1882 Silver Dollars used as currency?

A: Believe it or not, yes! This beautifully patriotic coin was used as a regular form of currency. Much like pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters the 1882 Silver Dollar passed through the hands of customers and vendors on a daily basis.

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