Ron Guth: Called the "King of Morgan Dollars", the 1895 is one of the most desirable and sought-after dates in the series. Although Mint records indicate a mintage of 12,000 circulation strikes, experts believe that only 880 Proofs were made in 1895. The existence of several circulated examples confuses the issue, but those are believed to have been Proofs that were spent inadvertently. Ownership of this popular rarity is the true measure of completeness for a collection of Morgan Dollars - the 1895 Proof is the only real "stopper" in the series.
Presumably, Proofs can be told apart from potential circulation strikes by the number of edge "reeds" (the raised "bumps" on the edge of the coin). Proofs will have 179 "reeds", whereas circulation strikes will have some other number.
PCGS has graded more Proofs of this date than any other, although the number may be inflated due to re-submissions. A surprising percentage of the coins examined by PCGS have been "spent" Proofs - 87 coins have been certified below Proof-60 (as of June 23, 2010), including one in Proof-06!