The Denver Mint: In 1921, the Denver Mint facilities were pressed into service to coin Morgan dollars, the first examples of this denomination ever produced there, since the facility went online in 1906.
Commentary: The 1921-D Morgan dollar is distinctive as the only Denver Mint coin of this design. A set of Morgan dollars from the different mints included Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and, now, Denver. The D mintmark is tiny on all issues; Micro D. Some coins were struck from die(s) with the D shallowly impressed; the mintmark is scarcely visible.
In keeping with Philadelphia Mint coins, 1921-D dollars were struck from redesigned shallow-relief dies.
Hoard coins: Vast quantities of Mint State 1921-D dollars were released in the 1950s and early 1960s. The issue was considered common, and most dealers did not desire to buy them. Today, original mintsealed bags are few and far between, but the coins themselves are common. However, far fewer Mint State 1921-D dollars exist than do 1921 Philadelphia Issues.
Circulated grades: In worn grades, 1921-D dollars are exceedingly common. AU coins are difficult to distinguish from MS-60. An estimated 1.5 to three million circulated pieces survive.
Mint State grades: The typical Mint State coin is in lower grades such as MS-60, 61, or 62, and is an average strike, but some are well struck. As the dies were in shallow relief, a sharp strike is not as distinctive as one of the earlier 1878-1904 era. The surfaces are often frosty and lustrous, a point in their favor. As is the case with 1921 Philadelphia Mint Morgan dollars, a certified 1921-D is apt to have a poor aesthetic appearance. I advise against paying much of a premium for such coins if their only claim to fame is being in a plastic holder marked "MS-65."
I suggest these estimates: MS-60 to 62, 750,000 to 1,500,000; MS-63, 200,000 to 400,000; MS-64, 50,000 to 100,000; MS-65 or better (per current interpretations), 10,000 to 20,000.
Prooflike coins: What the certification services call PL coins are rare, unlike their Philadelphia Mint counterparts. Semi-prooflike pieces are occasionally seen; these sometimes have frosted designs. So called DMPL coins are scarer than PLs. Read what I
have to say under 1921 Prooflike coins; the same thoughts apply here.
Engraved field pieces: See extensive commentaries by Norman M. Davis and Walter H. Breen under Additional Information below, for data concerning 1921-D dollars engraved in the field, a typical inscription being 9TH DOLLAR RELEASED FROM 1ST 100/ EVER COINED AT DENVER MINT / THOMAS ANNEAR, SUPT.
REDESIGNED DIES: SHALLOW RELIEF
1-2. 16 Berries in reverse wreath, Micro D:Breen-5709; Raised round dot in field: Breen-5710, many dot sizes (see VAM, p. 125). VAM-4 has multiple dots. Some 1921-Ds have the S in TRUST filled in. Many minor positional varieties. All are Van Allen and Mallis Reverse D-2.