Coin Specifications

Category: Morgan Dollars (1878-1921)
Mint: New Orleans
Mintage: 4,900,000
Catalog: KM-110
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 26.7300g
ASW: 0.7734oz
Melt Value: $12.17 (10/8/2015)
Diameter: 38.1mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1896 O S$1 MS obverse 1896 O S$1 MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

While not particularly rare in circulated grades, the 1896-O dollar is elusive in all Mint State grades, and a major rarity in Gem quality. In The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook, Wayne Miller wrote: ?No other Morgan dollar is as consistently deficient in luster, strike, and degree of surface abrasions as the 1896-O. A fully struck piece is rare, an 1896-O with minimum bagmarks is even more unusual. In the author?s opinion, the 1896-O is the rarest of all Morgan dollars in truly Gem condition.?

In 1896, the New Orleans Mint coined 4,900,000 silver dollars, following several years of lean production. This mintage is only a little over 300,000 fewer silver dollars than had been struck in New Orleans during the previous four years combined. It is almost certainly the case that those four years of limited production created this condition rarity as nearly all of these pieces were actually placed in circulation in 1896.

This issue provides an excellent illustration of the often confusing relationship between rarity and mintage. With a production of nearly 5 million coins, the ?96-O has a substantial mintage for Morgan dollar issue. There are nearly 50 different issues that have a lower mintage, including such issues as 1884-CC, 1897, 1898-O, and 1904-O, just to name a few, and none of these dates come even close to the rarity of the ?96-O in high grade. In the Morgan dollar series, rarity is not based on mintage, but on survival. For many dates, substantial portions of the mintage were placed in storage at the Treasury for several decades, until they were released in the 1960s, or even into the 1970s for some of the Carson City issues. Dates that were placed in storage are now the common dates in the series. Other dates, such as the 1896-O, that were released into circulation, are now the rarities or condition rarities of the series. In a few instances, such as the 1893-S, the rarity is explained by a combination of low mintage and release into circulation, and these are the dates that are keys to the series in all grades. The 1889-CC is another example.

The condition rarity status of this date is similar to the 1901 silver dollar. Both are essentially common in circulated grades, but rare in Mint State grades, and when such pieces are found, they are usually at the lowest numerical levels. However, proof examples of 1901 are available to collectors, but not so for the 96-O. Dave Bowers writes: ?Those who are edged out of buying a Gem Mint State 1901 can wink twice and buy a proof quickly, but the collector seeking an 1896-O has no such fallback possibility.?

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/23/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1896 O S$1 MS
Base $ 35.00 38.00 40.00 45.00 60.00 145 175 235 585 2400 3300 9250 42750 195000 450000 - - - -
$ 90.00 - - 285 775 2700 4300 13000 52500 - - - -
1896 O S$1 MS Prooflike
Base $ - - - - - - - 475 1250 4000 13000 - - - - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1896 O S$1 MS Deep Prooflike
Base $ - - - - - - - - - 15500 29000 38500 - - - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The World Coin Price Guide is independently compiled by Krause Publications’ NumisMaster. NGC makes this information available to its website visitors as a free service, but in no way does the information provided represent NGC’s official opinion or policy. For example, varieties listed in the World Coin Price Guide may not necessarily be recognized by NGC. Please contact NGC Customer Service with any questions.

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Total Graded: 6241
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 65

Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
11/1/2015 MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2015 October 29 - November 1 US Coins Signature Auction - New York Session(3), 1225/Lot# 4934
11/1/2015 MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2015 October 29 - November 1 US Coins Signature Auction - New York Session(3), 1225/Lot# 4933

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
3/30/2005 NGC AU 55   Teletrade Auction 2020, 2020/Lot# 1907 $231.00
9/19/2010 PCGS AU 58   Goldberg September 19-21, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction, 60/Lot# 1835 $483.00
2/3/2011 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2011 February Long Beach Signature US Coin Auction Session(5), 1152/Lot# 8897 $149.50
6/14/2011 NGC MS 62   Stack's Bowers The June 2011 Baltimore Auction, 92/Lot# 4689 $1,725.00
12/23/2012 NGC AU 55   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 731, 740/Lot# 208 $190.00
6/4/2014 NGC AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2014 June 4 - 8 US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(7), 1206/Lot# 9177 $411.25
6/29/2014 PCGS Genuine AU   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/29/2014, 187/Lot# 198172 $80.00
7/27/2014 PCGS   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/27/2014, 201/Lot# 207511 $62.86

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1896 O S$1 MS
1896 O S$1 MS Prooflike
1896 O S$1 MS Deep Prooflike
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 62
Points: 3551
Owner: Midas Q. Morgan
Grade: MS 62
Points: 3057
Owner: K M Lust
View the Registry Image Gallery

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