Due to their significant silver content, as well as their historical value, the 1888 silver dollars are a great starting point for collectors who are the beginning of their numismatic journey. However, they are also valuable pieces for experienced collectors. This coin has excellent potential to increase its value, mainly because many Morgan dollars that were made between 1878 and 1904 were melted down for their silver in 1918.
1888 Morgan silver dollars are in high demand, especially those minted in San Francisco. If you are looking for relatively cheap specimens, 1888 silver dollars in mint condition are a good option. There are only a few types of silver dollars from 1888 which have the potential for a much higher value.
Luckily, you will get all the information you need to identify the value of each 1888 silver dollar based on mint marks, condition, and rarity. Have a close look at the pictures, charts, and other essential information provided to improve your knowledge.
The History of 1888 Silver Dollars
The history of 1888 silver dollars is strongly connected to two significant legislations in the US dating back to that era:
Morgan silver dollars took their name from their designer, George T. Morgan. This artist used a model for Lady Liberty – a teacher from Philadelphia, called Anna Willess Williams.
The Morgan silver dollars were minted starting in 1879 and ending in 1921. This was the most extensive period in US mint history for one coin to stay in circulation.
Although their generous silver content (90%) might indicate a high value, it is almost impossible to determine the actual price of an 1888 Morgan silver dollar without looking at its particularities. Unlike other coins, many factors influence the price you will have to pay. Let’s discover these features and understand their impact on value.
Determining The 1888 Morgan Silver Dollar Value
1888 Morgan Silver Dollar Mint Marks
There were almost 40 million Morgan silver dollars produced back in 1888. The easiest way to recognize the three types of mint marks is by looking on the reverse side and checking where the coins were produced…
- Philadelphia Mint (these coins have no mint mark)
- San Francisco (the S mint mark)
- New Orleans (the O mint mark)
Remember! Always keep in mind that, besides the mint mark, the quality of these dollars is also crucial.
Therefore, you should look for the mint mark at the bottom of the coin’s reverse first of all and then check the possible flaws or errors that can influence the overall price.
Condition Of 1888 Morgan Silver Dollars
Normally, there is no need to quest hard for 1888 Morgan silver dollars. Why? Because there are a generous number of options on the market to choose from.
However, prices are different based on the grade of the coin. Expect those flawless, uncirculated silver dollars to reach impressive prices while those which have been widely circulated will fetch much more modest sums.
An 1888 Morgan silver dollar in uncirculated condition should display all the imagery and word details in their original state. Nevertheless, you can expect to find some fine abrasions. That is because of direct contact with other coins or hard surfaces.
To confirm the uncirculated condition, look at the luster and make sure it is present on the entire surface. Look at the chin of Lady Liberty in particular. You can expect around $40 for an uncirculated “average” 1888 Morgan silver dollar minted in Philadelphia or New Orleans, while a “average” dollar minted in San Francisco could reach up to around $270. (According to Coin Study).
Here is a beautiful example of an uncirculated 1888 Morgan silver dollar.
Extremely Fine Condition
In this situation, you may see tiny design damages, but not anything immediately noticeable. When in extremely fine condition, Morgan silver dollars may lack some of the mint condition luster, especially on the face of Lady Liberty.
Expect small details in Liberty’s hair to be missing as well. The most noticeable flaws often appear on the neck and forehead.
Most of the fine details are now reduced, and you may notice clear signs of wear. Multiple flaws are easy to see above and below the ear. Furthermore, you should expect some serious flattened areas from years of wear.
The fine lines are almost inexistent, while the leaves on the reverse are now very flat. Despite all these signs of wear, an 1888-S Morgan silver dollar in fine condition is rare and can cost more than $100. Just check for the “S” mintmark first.
Things change a bit when it comes to the 1888 Morgan silver dollars in “good” condition. Expect to find lots of flat areas, as well as missing details. Nevertheless, the ear is still visible, while the hair above it is smooth and connects to the cheek. The Liberty portrait is quite visible; yet, multiple details are now lost, like the cotton blossoms.
1888 Morgan Silver Dollar Value Chart
This chart will help you check the value of your 1888 Morgan silver dollars based on the condition and type. Be aware that these values are provided as a rough guide and may change, so it’s advised to check the current prices from multiple sources such as online auctions. Auction records contain a link to the PCGS official record with details of the most valuable listings.
|COIN QUALITY⬇\TYPE➜||1888 Silver Dollar
No mint mark
|1888 S Silver Dollar||1888 O Silver Dollar||1888 Double Die Obverse|
|Mint State 60||$59||$351||$59||$21,898|
|Mint State 65||$273||$3,414||$647||–|
|Auction record||$18,400 in 2011||$31,200 in 2019||$20, 562 in 2014||$19,200 in 2023|
The value of a 1888 Morgan dollar is strongly connected to its quality. Therefore, the greater the details on the silver coin, the greater your Morgan dollar value will be. These values were correct at the time of writing, according to the USA Coin Book.
1888 Morgan Silver Dollars Errors
If you are looking for unique 1888 Morgan silver dollars, check these VAM specimens. These particular Morgan dollar varieties have precious irregularities, which makes them even more valuable and special.
However, only some errors are visible to the naked eye, so expect the majority to need magnification to become noticeable.
Now, let’s explain “VAM” a little. It comes from Van Allen Mallis, the last name of the experts who discovered and documented these coin errors. The background of most VAMs is connected to the dies used for striking the coins. These are the most common VAM of the Morgan silver dollars:
- The first one is the 1888-O Doubled Die Obverse (also called Scarface), an error that appeared due to a die fracture. This type of error appears as a visible raised line over Liberty’s left cheek. Those who own this type of coin with Scarface error are the luckiest – the auction record for this type of 1888-O Morgan silver dollar was $19,200 in 2023!
- The second particularity is the 1888 O Hot Lips, a type of VAM caused by a mint error. The double die was the main cause of the overlapped parts. In this special case of coin error, you can notice unusually enlarged lips on the Liberty portrait.
Sometimes, you may notice multiple chins, lips, and noses on Liberty’s profile. This is due to disordered strikes. Nevertheless, these error varieties are quite rare, and most collectors are hunting for these rare coins.
One of the most requested 1888 Morgan silver dollars is the one with a double die error. Passionate collectors will pay highly for an example in extremely fine condition.
- 1888 Proof. Another notable variety of 1888 Morgan silver dollars is the proof coins -these silver dollars become even more expensive and collectible. They were minted in Philadelphia, and the auction record for a 1888 Proof Morgan silver dollar reached $16,450 in 2021!
This video shows the analysis of a Morgan silver dollar.
Q: What is the most appreciated and rare quality of these silver coins?
A: Any collector would like to have a stunning Morgan silver dollar in their collection. Carefully preserved silver coins are a rarity nowadays, so coins with top gradings (in top condition) and those with notable errors are the most appreciated and highest quality coins on the market.
Q: How much is a no-mintmark Morgan silver dollar worth?
A: The 1888 Morgan silver dollar with no mint mark was produced in Philadelphia, and its current average value is $30. However, if you are lucky enough to own a coin with the grade MS 65, you can earn more than $300.
Q: Which 1888 Silver Dollar are the most valuable?
A: 1888-S Morgan silver dollars tend to be the most valuable when comparing between mint marks. This variety of 1888 silver dollar took the auction record of all 1888 silver dollars when it sold for $31,200 in 2019.
Other than that, coins with rare errors such as the Scarface or Hot Lips errors mentioned in the article above are the most valuable when in mint condition.
Q: How can you tell a Morgan silver dollar is genuine?
A: There are some easy ways to tell a Morgan silver dollar is fake:
- Check the weight: the real weight is 26.73 grams;
- Use a magnet: if the Morgan dollars stick, they are fake;
- Ding the coin: there is a special metallic ding when tapping the Morgan silver dollar;
- Make measurements: the 1888 Morgan Dollar is exactly 38.1 mm wide.