The 1893-S Morgan Dollar, without doubt, is the absolute key date within the popular Morgan Dollar series. Not only does it have the lowest mintage of all regular issues, it can generally be assumed that few have survived in all grades with only a distinct minority in uncirculated condition. Unlike other low mintage Morgan Dollars no major hoards of the 1893-S silver dollar were ever been found with the exception of a small group of twenty coins that turned up in the 1960s. The current supply of coins have virtually all been on the market for at least fifty years and possibly even longer. Unsurprisingly, examples are always in demand, although lower grade coins are usually available with some searching.
While mintages for earlier Morgan Dollars were much larger, it was the recall of the Sherman Silver Purchase act in April of 1893 that created the rarity of the 1893-S Morgan Dollar. Originally, the Bland-Allison Act, which was signed into law in 1878, created the Morgan Dollar series and mandated the U.S. Treasury to purchase two million dollars worth of silver each month. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which was enacted in 1890 to replace the Bland-Allison Act, increased the mandated silver purchase amount to four million dollars each month. The mandated silver purchases were minted into Morgan Dollars.
Both Acts had significant influences on the Morgan silver dollar denomination. The mandated silver purchases were minted into Morgan Dollars, creating huge mintages. Since the silver dollar was rarely seen in circulation, the coins were stored virtually everywhere. Every Mint, treasury building, and many banks stored millions of freshly minted Morgan dollars, which never circulated. The only exceptions were the Western states, where paper money was disfavored, and hard cash, meaning coins, circulated freely. However, the two western mints in San Francisco and Carson City could easily keep up with the demand for freshly minted silver dollars.