Rare American Coins and Morgan Silver Dollar Proofs

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Rare American Coins and Morgan Silver Dollar Proofs

Proof coins are the showpieces of the series of any coin and are therefore handled with extra care every step of their production. They represent the ultimate examples of that coin series.

In the case of Morgan silver dollars, by far the most proof examples were produced in Philadelphia. On rare occasions, the branch mints would strike proofs. This is covered in another article I’ve written on branch mint proofs.

The planchets are hand selected for perfection, the dies are carefully polished. The press runs slowly and exerts far more pressure than on the circulation strike. Finally, the blanks are hand fed and retrieved to minimize damage during production.

To qualify as a proof, the coin details must be exceptional and fully struck. Morgan dollar specimens will exhibit squared off rims compared to the business strike.

If a proof looking Morgan dollar doesn’t exhibit the telltale squared off rims, no matter how good it looks, it isn’t one. Prooflike circulated silver dollars can occasionally be so well struck, they can almost fool the casual observer into thinking they are actually the real thing.

The fields will always appear mirror-like and are very easily damaged. Unlike their circulated siblings, care was taken at the mint during handling to avoid nicks and bag marks.

Even with all the care taken during production, these Morgan silver dollars still have a problem with hairlines in the mirror fields. Hairlines are the extremely fine scratches that show themselves because of the shiny field surfaces.

After the Morgan proof silver dollars left the mint, they were still subject to damage from handling. This came about because, the few coin collectors in the 19th century had no way to properly store their prizes. Back then, consideration was rarely given toward proper handling techniques.

Careless handling sometimes caused scratches to the mirrored silver surfaces. Depending on the location, depth, and length of the scratch, the coin may be deemed ungradable. Scratches, unlike hairlines are painfully obvious from any angle.

During the 20th century, some examples were harmed from albums or the edges of plastic flips. At least this sort of damage appears on the high points where it is less noticeable.

Some Morgan proofs have weak strikes even though the coin presses are supposed to exert significantly more pressure on proof coinage. Problem years are from 1888 to 1893 and to a lesser extent from 1901 to 1904.

Proof Morgan silver dollars will continue being at the top of collector interest in this series. They have a long term track record of significantly outperforming the circulation strike coins in price appreciation.

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