A coin’s rarity is usually a significant determinant of its value. The rarer a coin, the greater its worth. Consequently, the 1921 silver dollar coin is particularly valuable due to its rarity. This piece will cite the factors behind the coin’s scarcity.
What Makes a 1921 Silver Dollar Rare: Quick Summary
Generally, the 1921 silver dollar is valuable and rare because the United States is a huge market for numismatists (old currency collectors) who’re particularly drawn to this antique coin. This high demand for the coin and constant increase in the number of collectors has made it scarce in circulation, thereby driving up its overall worth and value.
Again, the withdrawal of the 1921 silver dollar coin from circulation contributed to its rarity and surge in value over the years. This occurrence is quite similar to the case of its counterpart in 1912.
For instance, the Farran Zerbe 1921 Morgan dollars are now worth more than $5,000, more than a hundred years after being withdrawn from circulation.
The following list gives a quick rundown of what makes a 1921 Silver Dollar incredibly hard to come by:
- The number of coins produced
- Place of minting
- Historical significance
- The coin’s withdrawal from circulation
- The condition of the available pieces
- Error coins and rare sets
However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the 1921 silver dollar’s rarity, let’s briefly examine what they are by discussing their history and how they came to be.
A Brief History of the 1921 Silver Dollar
The 1921 Silver Dollar, dubbed the “Morgan Dollar,” is a US $1 silver coin issued in the following years: 1878–1904, 1921, and more recently, a commemorative variant in 2021. The coin was named after the medalist George T. Morgan, who designed its appearance and whose monogram is placed on the obverse of the coin at the bottom image of the head of Lady Liberty.
The coin was issued from 900 fine metals and contained 24.057 grams of pure silver. This dollar coin is considered a classic numismatic illustration of the historical American ideals of freedom, liberty, and independence.
The Bland-Allison Act authorized the Morgan dollar coin. This development occurred after the enactment of the 1873 law. The mining sector lobbied to re-establish the free mintage of silver and special gold coins, which would involve the mint accepting all silver it received and returning it minted into a coin.
However, the Bland-Allison Act was enacted, requiring the Treasury to buy $2–4 million worth of silver at market value. These were to be minted into dollars monthly.
In 1890, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act revoked the Bland-Allison Act, requiring the Treasury to purchase 140,000 kg (4,500,000 troy ounces) of silver each month, requiring only additional production of silver dollars for a year. This law was later rescinded in 1893.
The Unique Morgan Dollar Design
We can’t talk about the 1921 Silver Dollar’s rarity without mentioning its peculiar design — one of the reasons numismatists are drawn to this coin.
The Morgan Dollar’s obverse design features the bust of Lady Liberty, inspired by Anna Willes Williams, who faces left, and a Phrygian cap perching on her head. You can also notice its ancient fret, which symbolizes the Age of Enlightenment.
Again, Lady Liberty wears a crown with leaves of wheat and cotton, on which “Liberty” (Libertad) can be read.
At the top of its obverse side, you’d see the Latin phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” which translates to “Out of many, one,” and below Lady Liberty is the year the coin was minted.
Why’s the 1921 Silver Dollar Rare? (Explained in Detail)
In the earlier parts of this guide, we outlined different factors responsible for the 1921 Silver Dollar’s rarity. Here, we examine how each of these influences the coin’s perceived value and, by extension, rarity.
The Number of Coins Produced
The number of coin pieces struck by the mint greatly determines its availability in circulation.
A decent case study is the 1909 “double-headed” silver coin. Only three specimens of this coin are known today. Due to its limited numbers, each costs about £460,000 to more than $500,000, according to the USA Coin Book.
This same factor affects the availability of the 1921 silver dollar coin. Relatively fewer pieces were struck; this makes the coin scarce today.
Place of Minting
Not all mints struck the 1921 Silver Dollar pieces for general circulation. Some 1921 silver dollars were manufactured as commemorative coins to preserve the interesting history of the United States. For instance, the San Francisco mint struck pieces for collectors. Coins from this mint tend to be more scarce and valuable.
The Morgan Dollar has a deep and rich historical relevance and design. It reminds its holders of America’s freedom and Liberty through Lady Liberty’s image.
Furthermore, the coin is named after the medalist George T. Morgan, who designed its appearance and possesses Morgan’s monogram on its obverse. His initials are located below Liberty’s bust.
All of these contribute to a strong desire for the coin among numismatists.
The Coin’s Withdrawal From Circulation
The 1921 silver dollar coin’s withdrawal from circulation led to its scarcity, thereby leading to its surge in value over the years. An example is the 1912 version of the silver dollar, which is currently worth more than $4 million.
The Condition of the Available Pieces
If a coin is well preserved, it’s highly valued among collectors, leading to its rarity. A trusted method of assessing a coin’s condition is the Sheldon Grading Scale. This standard is named after its creator, the American scientist and numismatist William Sheldon.
The Sheldon Scale evaluates a coin’s state on a scale from 1 (virtually worn coin) to 70 (faultless) points. Some coin specialists use descriptive characteristics (poor condition, weak, excellent, etc.).
General rule: The older the coin, the higher its value and rarity.
Not all coins have dates, unlike the 1921 silver dollar coin, whose historical record can be proven with empirical facts and verifiable data.
The Morgan dollar dates are given according to the Gregorian calendar. You should also note that, unlike the 1921 silver dollar coin, some coins weren’t minted in the year indicated. For example, silver dollars from America dating back to 1804 were actually minted in the 34th and 35th years of that century; they were trial coins.
As of 2022, the 1921 Silver Dollar qualifies as an antique coin. Hence, it’s rare.
Error Coins and Rare Sets
Silver dollars from 1921 having mint blunders and omissions are rarer than their regular counterparts since they’re a product of unintentional errors. This aberrance makes them more valuable than 1921 silver dollars without errors.
Similarly, 1921 Morgan silver dollars in uncirculated sets are more limited and valuable than the circulated ones. Often, uncirculated coins have a better appearance and thus fetch a good price at auction. Uncirculated Morgan silver dollars worth around $35.
Deciphering the Value of a 1921 Silver Dollar Today
Today, the 1921 Silver Dollar is precious due to its rarity, distinctive designs, and mint marks. Coins struck in San Francisco bear an “S” mintmark, those minted in Denver have a “D” mark, and pieces produced in Philadelphia generally lack mintmarks.
A 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar with an MS-63 grade is worth up to $55. The coin’s price increases with its grade.
Here are a few ways to find out the value of the 1921 silver dollars:
Using a reliable coin catalog, you can identify old coins and determine their value. A catalog usually presents investment, commemorative and ancient coins. So, you can evaluate a coin, determine its price from a catalog, and invest in a profitable coin.
Some numismatists are specifically trained to assess the condition and value of coins. They can determine the value of a coin from a photo, but for an accurate assessment, it’s better to present the item to them physically. You may inquire about the contacts of coin specialists from local coin merchants or find them on trusted sites.
Other Variants of the 1921 Silver Dollar
Apart from the 1921 Morgan Dollar, other variants of the 1921 Silver Dollar exist. One variant worthy of mention is the 1921 Peace Dollar.
1921 Peace Dollar
The 1921 Peace Dollar is a first-year, one-year silver coin that was struck in high relief. This coin is well-acclaimed and of high value in the numismatic world.
Here’s more about the value of the 1921 Peace Dollar.
Can I change or pay bills with a 1921 silver dollar coin since they’re rare and valuable?
No, you can’t.
Only banknotes and coins with printing or minting date from 1975 onwards maintain their legal tender and current value.
How valuable is the 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar?
Average-grade 1921 Morgan silver dollar coins typically have a slight premium above their silver value, worth $22. In other words, the least you can trade a 1921 Morgan silver dollar for is $22. You could sell it for a higher price if it’s still in pristine condition.
Due to several factors influencing their rarity, 1921 Silver Dollar coins may be difficult to find, especially if you don’t know where to acquire them. Your best bet at finding these valuable antique coins is an auction house. Still, you may acquire them from e-commerce sites like eBay and Etsy or flea markets.