The 1897 Morgan Silver Dollar is a fresh breath of affordable air for collectors of Morgan Dollars. Not counting the proof example, which is not usually collected in conventional date-and-mintmark Morgan Dollar sets, 1897 was one of the few years during the 1890s during which every business-strike issue can be had in lower grades for a small premium above silver bullion values.
The 1897 Morgan Silver Dollar was produced in three mints: New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The New Orleans Mint used an "O" and the San Francisco Mint an "S”. The main mint in Philadelphia did not use a mintmark. Proof examples of Morgan Dollars from all years, including 1897, are rare which makes them expensive.
1897 Morgan Silver Dollar Mintage Figures
- 1897: 2,822,000; $35+
- 1897-O 4,004,000; $35+
- 1897-S: 5,825,000; $35+
- 1897 Proof: 731; $3,000+
Prices above are for coins in the low-to-mid circulated grades; while all 1897 business strike issues are indeed unremarkable in price in that grading echelon, the 1897-O dollar takes a quick hike in price for the upper grades. While less than $50 should be able to snag you a Mint State example (using the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale) of an 1897 or 1897-S, the 1897-O will set collectors and investors back by at least $700 to $1,000 in Mint State. This is just one of many examples of grade rarity within a coin series, where a given issue may be highly common in total population, but becomes very scarce above a certain grade. Such is frequently the case throughout the Morgan Silver Dollar series and usually indicates a situation where hoards of uncirculated Morgan Dollars from a given date and mintmark were melted following the passage of the Pittman Act of 1918.