Sharp 1903-O Morgan Dollar

Question: I have been looking for a sharply struck 1903-O Morgan dollar to upgrade the example I currently have in my collection. The one I have is nice MS-64 and it is well struck on the obverse, but on the reverse the eagle’s breast feathers are flat. Will I be able to find a silver dollar of this date that is sharp on both sides?


Answer: With regard to the 1903-O Morgan dollar, the reverse master die was changed in 1900, and dollars from that year until 1904 are not as sharply detailed as are those made from 1878 until that time. On the reverse of a 1903-O coin, the eagle’s breast feathers will be defined, but they are not sharp. “Flatness” in this area is normal for this and other issues of the post 1900 era.

If you have 1921, 1921-D and 1921-S Morgan dollars in your collection, you will probably notice that these were struck from very shallow dies and are much less detailed than the issues earlier in the 20th century. However, if you put a 1904-O next to Morgan dollars of the earlier years of the series (say an 1881-S, to pick a very popular issue) the later dated piece will appear very weak by contrast. Many issues of these earlier dates (1878 through 1900) are regularly seen with sharply detailed breast feathers, especially those struck in San Francisco in the 1880s.

The best advice I can give you is to keep looking at 1903-O Morgan dollars when you see them for sale, compare them to the one you have, and that will give you an idea of whether a “detail” upgrade is possible.

Join our mailing list

Don't miss an auction!

Subscribe to our newsletter.


Contact Us

West Coast Office • (800) 458-4646

Midwest Office • (800) 817-2646

East Coast Office • (800) 566-2580

Hong Kong, China Office • +852 2117 1191

Follow Us

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter

We are sorry, an unexpected error occurred!
Please enter a valid email address

I'm Interested In...

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Stack's Bowers Galleries e-newsletter.