NGC Registry Updated NGC Registry

The Newport Ridge Collection - GSA Carson City Morgans

Category: Dollars
Set Type: GSA Hard Pack Holders Basic Set, Carson City Morgan Dollars, 1878-1891
Owner: GSA_Gem_Quest
Last Modified: 5/4/2021
Views: 8391

Rank: 12
Score: 53676
Leading by: 2346
Points to Higher Rank: 460
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Set Description:

Carson City Morgan Silver Dollars in Original Black GSA Holders 1878-1891 Graded by NGC

Update for 1/30/11: 1885-CC VAM 4 MS65* added, MS66 for same date sold
6/5/10: 1880-CC MS66 added, replacing same sold 6 months ago
9/5/09: 1884-CC ms67 added, replacing ms66PL
4/4/07: 1882-CC ms66PL added, replacing ms66
12/2/06: 1878-CC ms65PL added, replacing ms65
12/2/06: 1881-CC ms67 added, replacing ms66

One of the more popular and beautiful collector coins is the Carson City Morgan silver dollar in the original black General Services Administration (“GSA”) holder.

Throughout the history of the U.S. Silver Dollar, the minting of millions of coins was often followed by the melting of millions of coins to finance wars. The general public was generally not interested in using the silver dollar due to its large size and heavy weight. Millions of silver dollars were just bagged and sent to the U.S. Treasury for storage.

In the early 1960's a rise in the price of metals resulted in silver coins being worth more in silver than their face value. This lead to a run on the U.S. Treasury Department’s holdings of silver dollars. By early 1964, long lines of anxious coin buyers formed day after day outside the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C. hoping to buy an unopened bag of 1,000 U.S. Silver Dollars for its face value of $1,000. With the silver value higher than the face value of the coin, and the chance of finding rare collector coins worth significantly more than face, collectors were almost guaranteed to make money on their purchase.

The U.S. Treasury finally stopped the release of silver dollars from the U.S. Treasury on March 26, 1964.

A Treasury audit would soon discover that the remaining silver dollar stock consisted of only about 3,000 bags (3 million coins), mostly uncirculated specimens from the Carson City Mint. It was estimated that 28 of the bags (28,000 coins, or less than 1%) were from mints other than Carson City. There were also 97,591 circulated silver dollars from various mints, including 13,426 1878-CC dollars.

Politicians began trying to decide what to do with the remaining 3 million silver dollars. Many ideas were discussed, including the melting of the coins for sale as silver bullion. Fortunately for coin collectors, this idea was discarded. After years of political debate, it was decided to package the coins in black plastic holders and sell the coins to collectors and the general public through a series of mail-order bid sales conducted by the GSA. This is why the coins encapsulated in the black holders are referred to as GSA dollars.

President Richard M. Nixon signed a bill on December 31, 1970 that authorized the sale of the Government's remaining hoard of silver dollars. The coins were sorted by dates. Non Carson City dollars, circulated coins, toned coins, and severely bag-marked coins were pulled out and separately packaged. The best Carson City coins were packaged in hard black plastic holders indicating that they were Carson City Uncirculated Silver Dollars. The toned, circulated, and severely bag-marked coins were either packaged in the hard black plastic holders without the “uncirculated” designation on the holder, or packaged in flimsy clear plastic wrap (“soft packs”) with a small plastic token and labeled circulated. The non-Carson City uncirculated coins were encased in hard black plastic holders, but were labeled as “United States” not “Carson City” Uncirculated Silver Dollars.

A series of seven sales were held, five between 1972 and 1974, and two in 1980. Purchasers could request specific dates for some coins, but if they wanted certain other dates, they had to blindly purchase from a lot of mixed date coins, where they would not know which date they would receive. Coin buyers were not permitted to view the coins they were purchasing, as they were pre-packaged in sealed cardboard boxes with only the date (not the condition) of the coin indicated on the box. Mixed date coins were sealed in boxes without any indication of the date of the coin enclosed.

Commonly accepted numbers for GSA Silver Dollars packaged and sold are as follows (with total mintage in brackets and percent of total mintage packaged in GSA holders):
·1878-CC - 47,567 (13,526 went into the soft blue packs)(2,212,000)(2.8%)
·1879-CC - 4,123 (756,000)(0.5%)
·1880-CC - 131,529 (591,000) (22.3%) (includes two varieties 1880-CC and 1880-CC rev of 78)
·1881-CC - 147,485 (296,000) (49.8%)
·1882-CC - 605,029 (1,133,000) (53.4%)
·1883-CC - 755,518 (1,204,000) (62.8%)
·1884-CC - 962,638 (1,136,000) (84.7%)
·1885-CC - 148,285 (228,000) (65.0%)
·1890-CC - 3,949 (2,309,041) (0.2%)
·1891-CC - 5,687 (1,618,000) (0.4%)
·Total GSA CC Silver Dollars – 2,811,810
·GSA Non-CC Silver Dollars – 27,980
·GSA Circulated Silver Dollars – 97,591 (including 13,426 1878-CC)
·Total GSA Silver Dollars – 2,937,381 (estimate)

There is also rumored to be 1 coin each for 1889-CC, 1892-CC, and 1893-CC. The 1889-CC recently surfaced in August 2008, and was graded by NGC as MS62DPL.

Despite an advertising campaign on the part of the GSA, the silver dollar sales were initially met with lukewarm collector interest and poor sales results.

As one might expect with a governmental sponsored auction the size of the GSA sale, there was much criticism of the process. Many coin dealers were upset that the U.S. Government was “in the coin business.” Some complained that the auction minimum bids were too high and the distribution process was not fair.

The GSA silver dollars began to appear at coins shows around the country. Many dealers believed the coins, housed in their original GSA holders and black boxes with blue velvet interior, were too bulky to transport to shows or to store. Many collectors did not like the GSA holders because they could not put the coins into their coin albums. As a result, many coins in GSA black packs were broken out of their holders. In addition, there were so many GSA coins entering the market, they carried no premium in their original GSA holders. This would not always be the case, as history has shown.

The introduction of third party grading and encapsulation had the greatest impact, both negative and positive, on the population of GSA coins in their original black holders. When PCGS and NGC introduced their coin grading services during the mid 1980’s, the market for rare coins changed significantly. Dealers and collectors liked the idea of consistent and professional grading, and were willing to pay for it. But, in order to receive a grade and guarantee of authenticity, both companies required that a coin be encapsulated in their own tamper-proof plastic holders. This meant that GSA Silver Dollars had to be broken out of their black packs in order to be professionally graded. Without professional grading of GSA silver dollars, it was more subjective to grade, and more difficult to value and sell the coins. Though it is unknown how may GSA Silver Dollars were cracked out of their holders in order to be graded, it is likely that the population of GSA Silver Dollars in their original holders decreased dramatically during this period.

A few years ago, in an effort to preserve the historical significance of the silver dollars in the original GSA packaging, NGC began grading the dollars by attaching a blue grading band around the original GSA holder. This event alone did more to stabilize and preserve the population of original GSA Silver Dollars than any event. As a result, original GSA Silver Dollars have gained remarkably in popularity. Dealers and collectors have realized that the coins may be worth more, sometimes significantly more, in the original holder, with the original box and government-issued certificate of authenticity. Since NGC started its grading service for GSA Silver Dollars, there is no longer any reason to crack the coins out of their original black pack. As the graded population grows, it is likely that far fewer coins than thought survived in their original GSA packaging. This adds to the rarity of the coins and will further increase the pricing differential between GSA Silver Dollars in their original holders compared to similarly-graded coins broken out of their holders.

The GSA also printed thousands of colorful bidding brochures that were part marketing and part informational. Brochures in good condition have collector value of their own. There are at least six different brochures, as follows:
- Last of a Legacy (miner on cover)
- Coins Jesse James Never Got
- 79-CC
- 1880/81/85-CC
- 90% Silver 100% History
- The Great Silver Sale
 Slot DescriptionGradeServiceScore
View Coin 1878-CC MS 65 PL NGC 5771
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View Coin 1879-CC MS 64 NGC 6089
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View Coin 1880-CC REV 1878 MS 65 NGC 3601
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View Coin 1880-CC REV 1879 MS 66 NGC 4472
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View Coin 1881-CC MS 67 NGC 6324
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View Coin 1882-CC MS 66 PL NGC 3386
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View Coin 1883-CC MS 67 NGC 6473
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View Coin 1884-CC MS 67 NGC 6517
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View Coin 1885-CC MS 65 NGC 3044
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View Coin 1890-CC MS 63 NGC 4630
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View Coin 1891-CC MS 63 NGC 3369
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