The 1881 silver dollar is from the Morgan silver dollar series, one of the most collected and coveted coin series—these relics of history, when in mint condition, are truly valuable.
Let’s find out the 1881 silver dollar value, read about different 1881 silver dollar varieties, and the errors that make these pieces worth collecting.
1881 Silver Dollar Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1881 No Mint mark Silver Dollar||$21||$21.1||$23.4||$44|
|1881 O Silver Dollar||$22.4||$22.4||$24.5||$42.9|
|1881 S Silver Dollar||$21.1||$21.1||$23.4||$42.9|
|1881 CC Silver Dollar||$240||$266||$305||$461|
1881 Silver Dollar No Mint Mark Value
Before we read further about the value of the 1881 P silver dollar, let’s quickly review the coin’s fascinating history and its design details. The 1881 silver dollars were designed by George T. Morgan and were recognized as the Morgan dollars.
The artist was originally from the UK and was recommended by the authorities at the Royal Mint UK to work in US mints. Morgan soon secured the position in the mint as a chief engraver.
While another chief engraver, William Barber, also submitted his designs for the silver dollar, the mint director then chose Morgan’s design. The silver dollars in 1881 were minted in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Carson City, and New Orleans. These coins are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper and weigh 27 grams.
The production of Morgan silver dollars continued till 1904 and was later replaced with the peace dollar. Although millions of Morgan silver dollars were produced during the time, most were hoarded or melted down by the authorities after passing the Pittman Act in 1918. The act was passed in 1918 to recoin these silver dollars.
The Morgan dollar resumed mintage in 1921, after which its design was replaced with the peace dollar that marked the end of War and represented freedom and prosperity. After almost 40 years, several bags of uncirculated Morgan dollars were found in the Treasury vaults, which people started exchanging for the face value and removed these rare finds from circulation.
The production of the Morgan dollar remained steady until the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was passed in 1890. In this act, the treasury was bound to purchase a certain amount of silver each month and use it to mint coins. The advocates for this act believed that purchasing these huge amounts of silver might increase inflation, relieving farmers.
The act also announced that at least two million silver dollars needed to be minted by 1891. Later in 1893, industrial firms started facing hardships, leading them to bankruptcy. This failure of these huge companies triggered the Panic of 1893.
At the time, President Grover Cleveland was the result of inflation caused by the Sherman silver purchase act and demanded that Congress repeal it. The act was repealed, but the production continued as Congress ordered the mints to coin the silver left from the monthly purchases under the Sherman act.
The obverse side of the silver dollar depicts Lady Liberty facing to the left. The designer based the portrait of Lady Liberty on a woman named Anna Willess Williams.
She was a teacher and a philosophical writer and had modeled earlier for Morgan’s friend and artist, Thomas Eakins. The phrase E Pluribus Unum is written on the top edge of the coin with dots separating each word. Around both edges of the coin, some stars surround the portrait. At the coin’s bottom, you’ll see the date 1881 struck.
The coin’s reverse side shows the portrait of a bald eagle with its wings spread across the air. The eagle holds arrows in one claw, whereas an olive branch in the other. The coin’s bottom has one dollar written on it, while the United States of America legend is written around the coin’s rim, starting from the left and ending at the right edge.
The phrase In God We Trust is visible on the eagle’s head. After a few days of minting, the dies started getting worn because of the detail Morgan put into the portrait. Changes like reducing the number of feathers and details were made to resolve the issue.
Now that we’ve reviewed the history and the design journey of the 1881 Morgan silver dollar let’s get straight to the value of the 1881 P silver dollar. More than nine million coins were minted in the Philadelphia mint that year. Fortunately, you can buy an average condition coin for $10 to $20.
However, if you want to purchase a piece in extremely fine condition, it will cost you around $50. Pieces graded MS-65 are worth $600 and more. The grades like MS 66+ sell for $4750, an MS 67 is valued at $21,000, whereas an MS 67+ can even reach more than $60,000.
1881 O Silver Dollar Value
The 1881 morgan dollars bearing an O mint mark were minted in New Orleans. The mint produced over six million silver dollars. Good condition 1881 O silver dollar can be purchased for $50, while a fine grade coin will be more than $125. Higher the grade, the more valuable the coin gains. Coins graded as the finest quality (MS 67) easily sell for $75,000.
1881 S Silver Dollar Value
The San Francisco mint in 1881 minted around thirteen million coins, the second largest number of Morgan silver dollars minted that year. Although a large number of coins were minted, around half of the coins were not circulated that year and instead were released in 1962. Due to their easy availability, these coins are easy to find in higher grades at relatively affordable prices.
An MS 67 graded 1881 S silver dollar quickly sells for $1000 and above. The proof-like coins go for double the value, at $2000, whereas MS 67 with deep mirror proof-like (DMPL) is valued at over $11,500. Two highest grade 1881 S silver dollars graded MS 69 were recently sold at an auction, each for $160,000.
1881 CC Silver Dollar Value
Around 290,000 silver dollars were minted in Carson City during 1881, making these coins the rarest of all other mints. The mint mark CC used by the mint is also a rare mint mark to include. A good condition 188 CC silver dollar can fetch you around $500, while an MS 63 is worth $850.
Likewise, an MS 65 grade is valued at $1250. There are also nearly 300 MS 67-graded coins that sell at an average price of $6000. The most expensive and rare coins that have surfaced from the 1881 CC silver dollar variety are the MS 67+ and MS 68 specimens. They are estimated to be worth $19,000 and $65,000, respectively.
1881 Proof Silver Dollar Value
The Philadelphia mint produced around 984 coins, with the first 100 having a cameo effect. These pieces in mint state are rare finds and valuable. Approximately 70 1881-proof silver dollars are known to the surface, graded PR 60.
The grades above MS 60 to 66+ can be bought in a range between $2000 to $4300. However, coins graded MS 67 with the cameo effect sell for over $17000. Another MS 67 graded piece was sold at an auction in 2011, fetching around $46000.
1881 Silver Dollar Grading
Evaluating the coin’s condition is imperative to determine its value. Although there are several coin grading services you can use to grade the coin or evaluate the grade, you can access the level of wear by yourself. Here’s a video providing information on grading the 1881 silver dollar.
Rare 1881 Silver Dollar Errors List
Several errors can occur during the coin minting process, giving these pieces a distinct appearance and an increased value. Let’s read about the errors commonly found in the 1881 silver dollar.
1881 Silver Dollar Struck-Through Error
When a foreign object comes between the die and the blank coin while minting, this is what is known as a strike-through error. When the die strikes the foreign object, it’s pushed on the coin’s blank surface, creating an indentation.
Typically, paper clips, metal shavings, clothes, and grease stick to the die or the blank coin. An 1881 silver dollar coin with struck-through error sells from $450 to $550.
1881 Silver Dollar Grease Filled Die Error
The coins with this error sell for an average of $1620. The grease-filled die error blurs the coin’s appearance, giving the piece a unique look. The grease-filled die error is the most common and only blurs a particular section while other areas of the coin remain unchanged.
1881 Silver Dollar Off-Center Error
When the planchet or the dies are misaligned, there are high chances of producing an off-center error where the portrait fails to be struck on the center. Instead, the image is struck away from the center. The higher the off-center percentage, the more value it will have. A 5% off-center 1881 silver dollar was sold in 2007 for $3000.
1881 Silver Dollar FAQs
What’s the value of the 1881 Morgan Silver dollar?
While the average condition coins sell for a few dollars, the coins rated higher sell for thousands. The value of a coin is determined by its condition and rarity. A circulated coin in fine condition sells for $50, whereas an MS 69-graded silver dollar is estimated to be worth $160,000.
How to tell whether the 1881 silver dollar is real?
Morgan dollars are weakly attracted to a magnet. However, if the coin is not silver and has a ferromagnetic metal base, it will stick firmly to the magnet. Grading is another way you can determine whether the coin is fake or real.
Are 1881 silver dollars rare?
While the 1881 silver dollars can be found easily, the coins minted in Carson City are a rare find as only 296,000 coins were minted and are valued at $500. Higher grades like MS 67 and above are rare coins that sell for thousands of dollars.
How to tell whether a silver dollar is rare?
The coins minted in silver are rare as these silver dollars underwent a series of composition changes where the silver content was reduced from 90% to 40%. Later this silver content was also replaced by a mix of copper and nickel.
Viewing the coin’s edges can show whether the coin is silver or not. A silver coin with 90% silver content will always have a silver stripe visible, whereas a blurry stripe with traces of copper means the silver content is 40%.
What are the two types of Silver dollars?
The two types of silver dollars people are the most familiar with are Morgan and peace dollars. However, the silver dollar has seen many design changes, including the Flowing Hair, Seated Liberty, and draped bust silver dollar designs.
What are the top rare Morgan dollars?
1893 S Silver dollars were minted during the time of the great depression and were minted in limited quantities. A fine quality 1893 coin sells for $7000 and more.
The 1901 Morgan dollar from the Philadelphia mint is another rare find as only 813 proof coins were minted and had an average value of $3500. Higher-grade coins like MS 60 with a double die error can sell for over $50000.
1889 CC silver dollar coins are also valued at $3500 and are difficult to collect as only 350,000 coins were minted during the time.
The 1895 O silver dollars were struck in the New Orleans mint. These coins were created quickly while ignoring the subtle details a coin must carry. While 450,000 coins were minted, some were stored, and only 100,000 were circulated, making them rare. These coins, in fine condition, sell for more than $1900.