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Coin Education / Coin Information / Coin News

Why are 1899-P Morgan Dollars so cheap?

Why are 1899 Morgan Dollars so cheap

As collectors learn over time while trying to fill holes in their collection, some coins are tougher to find than the mintage or price indicates.  They may not be necessarily rare or expensive coins, but often you just can’t seem to find them out there, or when you do they aren’t in the grade you are looking for.  Often, these are coins that are scarcer than their mintage or price indicates, and therefore undervalued and end up going up in price at some point in the future.

Quite the opposite is the 1899-P Morgan Silver Dollar.  With an extremely low mintage of just 330,000 coins, it is one of the lowest mintage Morgan Dollars in existence.  In fact, there are only six Morgan Dollars with a lower mintage!  Here is a list of the top ten lowest mintage Morgan Dollars:

 

  1. 1893-S (100,000)
  2. 1894-P (110,000)
  3. 1885-CC (238,000)
  4. 1881-CC (296,000)
  5. 1893-O (300,000)
  6. 1899-P (330,000)
  7. 1889-CC (350,000)
  8. 1893-P (378,000)
  9. 1895-S (400,000)
  10. 1895-O (450,000)

Not only is it the 6th lowest mintage Morgan Dollars, but it has a lower mintage than the very scarce 1889 Carson City Morgan Dollar, the 1893 Philadelphia Morgan, 1895 New Orleans Morgan and 1895 San Francisco Morgan.  Those are some rare coins, especially the 1889-CC!

A quick look at the recent sales show the following prices for an 1899-P Morgan Dollar:

  • VG8 $140.00
  • VF20 $160.00
  • XF40 $170.00
  • AU50 $185.00
  • MS60 $240.00
  • MS63 $300.00
  • MS65 $950.00

As you can see, they are dirt cheap for their mintage.  It’s not until you get to an MS65 specimen does the price even start to reflect that it’s even a rare coin!  Compare this to the higher mintage 1889-CC:  In VG8 you can get one for about $600.00, in XF40 you will pay around $2,500, MS60 will cost you a cool $25,000+ and in MS65 you ask?  Well that will set you back about $265,000, if you can find one.

So why in the world does an 1899-P Morgan Dollar with such a low mintage in an extremely popular series sell for so little in relation to it’s mintage?  Well there is no definitive answer for this.  As many Morgan Dollars and silver coins in general were melted for silver, they suspect that very few 1899-P Morgan Dollars were melted.  Also, there was not a wide-spread release of 1899-P Morgan Dollars into circulation, so they are easier to obtain in higher grades than many other Morgans.  There are reports of stored bags of 1899-P Morgan Dollars being released in the 1950’s as well as the 1960’s, which would give much less time than average for the coins to acquire wear.  By that time, people were not normally using Morgan Dollars to pay for their purchases anyway.  All of this results once again in higher grades not being as rare as you would expect.  It also gives less time for the coins to get lost, as a certain percentage of coins get accidentally misplaced, thrown away, buried, etc.

All in all, the 1899-P Morgan Dollar is not as rare as the mintage suggests, however just the fact that there are a mere 330,000 minted should be enough to drive the prices of this popular silver Morgan Dollar much higher than the current prices.  Compare this to the 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent with a mintage of 484,000 coins.  The 1899-P has a lower mintage by 154,000 coins, and the 1909-S VDB’s were also heavily stored since they were a first year of issue.  Like almost all coins, any first year of issue coin is kept at a higher percentage since it is a coin that is new to the public.

Though the prices have been pretty steady for many years on the 1899 Philadelphia Morgan Dollar, it may not always be that way.  With their very low mintage, even if the number in extant today is higher than average, there is a good chance they may not always be priced this low.

Give us your thoughts on the current prices on the 1899 Philadelphia Morgan Dollars.  Do you own one?  Do you think they are currently undervalued or overvalued?  Let us know in the comments below!

Do you think 1899-P Morgan Dollars are undervalued?

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