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Authenticating the 1893-S Morgan Dollar

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Authenticating the 1893-S Morgan Dollar is not difficult given the right tools and some patience. The 93-S is the key date to the series.  It’s tiny mintage of only 100 thousand coins makes it the lowest mintage regular issue Morgan Dollar in the entire set. With values in Very Good condition in the $2,500.00 range and nice Extra Fines approaching $10,000.00, it’s easy to see why this date is tempting for counterfeiters.

Most of the fakes are made from altering another coin rather than striking them or casting them (although these exist as well).

The Three Keys to Authenticating the 1893-S Morgan Dollar

The keen numismatist has a distinct advantage with this issue.  Since the mintage was so low, only one obverse die  was used, allowing detailed study.  The coin has a few distinct diagnostics.  Here are the two most important ones.  First, get yourself a good 20x loupe – it will pay for itself many times over if it saves you from buying a bad 93-s.

First Two Major Diagnostics

Note the horizontal line at the top of the “T” and the chip in the foot of the “R”


All genuine 1893-S Morgan Dollars have a horizontal die scratch within the “T” of “LIBERTY” on the headband.(see photo) This scratch is going to be raised metal within the “T”.  I realize that it’s a pretty small scratch, but the key to remember is that it’s on EVERY genuine coin.  Even lower grade ones.  The “T” is recessed enough to protect the raised scratch from wearing off. Also, there are two small die chips in the left upright of the letter “R”.  Again, this is on every genuine coin.

Third Diagnostic

Also the base of the “1” in the date lies almost directly over a denticle. You can draw an imaginary line from the center of the denticle straight through the center of the “1”. Use this as secondary confirmation after you find the primary ones above.  Only use this diagnostic as an additional confirmation once the above two are found.  It is not enough just to have this one as some other 1893 dollars can be found with this date positioning. Armed with this information, you can be pretty sure you have a genuine coin.  Once you’re certain of that, then focus on the grade and make sure you are paying a fair price. (That’s another blog entry entirely!).

Use these tips and authenticating the 1893-S Morgan dollar will be in your power to do!


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