The Morgan silver dollar that was released in 1921 was the last year for this specific design. It was also the last coin design of the 19th century that was ever struck.
The 1921 Morgan dollar mintages across all three U.S. Mint locations (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco) were extremely high. Given these high mintages and the low, flat strike of the coin, the 1921 Morgan silver dollar is actually one of the least popular coins in the entire series.
A Bit of History
The Morgan dollar was never extremely popular. It was invented as a subsidy by Congress for the silver mining industry in 1878. No one expected to see new Morgan dollars after the last ones were struck in 1904. They even destroyed the master hubs in 1910, in full confidence of abolishing the series.
However, a combination of events in World War I in 1918 led to the resumption of production of the Morgan dollar in 1921. The British experienced a silver shortage that jeopardized the entire Allied army. This is partly because they had issued more silver certificates in India than there was silver.
If India revolted, the British would have had to make peace with Germany. So the British government had to appeal to the United States to sell them some silver, and the Morgan dollars started to be produced again.
The Design of the Coin
Much of the coin’s design was conceived by Chief Engraver of the United States Mint Frank Gasparro. Gasparro’s coin designs also include the presidential coat of arms on the Kennedy half dollar, the Susan B. Anthony dollar, certain liberty coins, and many other medals and commemorative coins that remain valuable to this day.
Another consideration is the mint that is on the coin. Mintmarks were used to identify the various mints at the time, and each type can be collected and valued separately. The minting of Morgans started up again in 1921. Not since 1904 had these coins been minted. Due to the Pittman Act of 1918, many of the 1921 Morgans are actually older Morgans that were melted down and re-coined.
Mintmarks placed on the 1921 Morgan silver dollars indicate the branch mint that struck the coin. Philadelphia, the main mint, did not use a mintmark, but you can look on the reverse side of the coin above the DO in DOLLAR for marks that indicate the other mints.
San Francisco struck coins using an "S", and Denver used a "D" mintmark. 1921 is the only year that the Denver mint produced Morgan silver dollars. Always be sure not to confuse these coins with Proof Eisenhower dollars, the Ike dollars produced by the United States Mint with mirrored surfaces and sold to coin collectors.
Coins like these are only worth a small premium, a little higher than their face value. Remember that the Morgan Silver Dollar (1878-1921) has been in circulation longer than any other silver dollar coins. If you are a coin collector, a worthwhile goal is to find a group of coins that have been well preserved over the years.
Because so many Morgan silver dollars are more than 100 years old, they are considered rare coins, so always be looking out for them when you are sifting through a bag of coins.
The quality of preservation is a key factor when it comes to higher values with all types of coins. Although they are now over a hundred years old, 1921 Morgan dollars are readily available in large quantities in circulated, worn condition.
Most modern collectors prefer to focus on coins that are in the top range of uncirculated condition. Uncirculated 1921 silver dollars of high quality can command a significant premium. Coins that are lustrous and have eye appeal, with no wear and few abrasions, are highly valued by modern collectors.
As a rough estimate, you can assume that these coins in average condition might be valued at around $28.00 each. Coins in certified mint state (MS+) condition could command as much as $120 at a coin auction. These prices do not refer to any standard coin grading scale.
An average coin simply refers to one in a similar condition to other coins issued in 1921, and a mint state coin means that it was certified MS+ by one of the top coin grading companies such as ANACS. Even though many valuable coins are rare, the coin values do not always correspond with how rare the individual coins are.
For example, some coins are not as widely collected, and so the value of those types of coins will usually be lower. And although mintage statistics can be important, they are not the only factor. Some types of coinage that were once minted do not even survive in common circulation in the United States of America at all.
The coin’s overall condition can be very important in terms of its value. Well-preserved coins can have higher values in the numismatic world of coin collecting than similar coins with general damage and wear and tear. Damaged coins are usually only worth their face value to most coin dealers, even if they do happen to be really old coins.
For example, a coin in poor condition might still be worth $7 more than the intrinsic value from silver content of $21. This might be the case when you are dealing with coin collectors. Coins that are worth more to collectors may turn out to be better long-term investments than regular coins. If the price of silver drops, you will still have a coin that a numismatist might want to buy.
A Few Other Important Things to Consider
As mentioned earlier, with the high mintages and the low, flat strike, the 1921 Morgan dollar is not a very popular coin. The 1895 issue is the rarest Morgan dollar that you can find. Only proofs were minted that year, and only 880 of them were produced.
This is indeed a rare coin, and so it would be worth considerably more than the 1921 Morgan silver dollar. It is vital to always keep in mind that some mint years will be more valuable than others for all types of coins, and the minting location (as explained above) may also be an important factor to consider when determining the worth of all of your coins, including 1921 Morgan silver dollars.