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The MS65/MS63 Ratio: An Investment Angle?

5th National Silver Dollar Convention

St. Louis, Missouri

November 8 – 11, 1984



The MS65/MS63 Ratio:  An Investment Angle?

By Ron Howard



When analyzing the relationship of current MS65 Morgan Dollar values to MS63 values, some very interesting observations can be made.

All of the values used in calculating the ratios were taken from the September 7, 1984, Coin Dealer Newsletter.  All varieties, (e.g., overdates, overmintmarks, and reverse die varieties), as well as the 1895 Proof, were not considered.

The average ratio of MS65 Morgans and their MS63 counterparts is 6.33.  The issue with the lowest MS65/MS63 ratio is 1893-S at 2.24.  The issue with the highest ratio is 1891-O at 18.97

Anything “average” is usually quite unexciting, so let’s look at the extremes, taking the lowest first:



Value Ratio


1. 1893-S


2. 1889-CC


3. 1904-S


4. 1881-CC


5. 1885-CC


6. 1879-S


7. 1880-S


8. 1881-S



Three distinct groups are apparent:  The key dates, the medium-priced Carson City issues, and the S-mints.  Each group has its own reasons for possessing a relatively low MS65/MS63 ratio.

The key issues, while rare in mint state, have a relatively high average mint state quality.  The number of MS65 1893-S’s, as a percentage of the surviving mint state population, is quite high.  The 1889-CC and 1904-S can be regarded similarly, though not to the extent as the 1893-S.  The high bid levels ($55,000 for the ’93-S, $16,500 for ’89-CC in MS65) also tend to compress the MS65/MS63 ratio.

Since the 1904-S, at $3,250 MS65 bid, is neither as prohibitively expensive or as high in average mint state quality as the other two dates, it may be earmarked as a sleeper, overdue for price adjustment, that would increase the ratio between MS65 and MS63.

The CC issues’ total population is 80% or more mint state coins.  MS65 examples are scarce but usually available.  The value of circulated coins provides a high base upon which the prices of mint state examples are derived.

No other group of Morgans provides more high quality singles than the 1878 to 1882 S-mints.  This fact holds the MS65 price down, while the common BU roll price supports the single coin MS63 bid.

On the other end of the spectrum:



Value Ratio


1. 1891-O


2. 1890-O


3. 1902


4. 1894-O


5. 1921-S


6. 1891


7. 1896-O


8. 1892-O



A more homogeneous group than the previous lot, to be sure.  But what is the 1902 doing in such company?  All of the other coins are logical members – poorly produced at their respective mints, seldom seen in true MS65 condition, yet always available in MS63.  While the 1902 is always available in MS63, it certainly does not present the challenge of locating an MS65 example that any of the others do.  As analysis pointed to 1904-S as a sleeper, arguments against investing in 1902 Morgans in MS65 at current levels are suggested.

Both recommendations seem to concur with dealers’ and investors’ instinctive feelings.

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