NGC Registry Updated NGC Registry


Category: Dollars
Set Type: Carson City Morgan Dollars, 1878-1893
Owner: CT's COINS
Last Modified: 3/29/2020
Views: 3396
Filter Rankings: All Coins |  NGC Coins

Rank: 12
Score: 42538
Leading by: 351
Points to Higher Rank: 662
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Set Description:

The Carson City Morgan Silver Dollars are fascinating. It has been said "nothing says old west like Carson City Morgan silver dollars." A Carson City Morgan silver dollar conjures up the vision of the free unbridled wild west--adventuresome spirit, quest for new beginnings, striking it rich, and also the times of struggle and hardship associated with life in more simple, yet demanding times. Although some only think of the late 1800's as just wild and unfettered, these were also the times of social conservatism and strong family and community values. Significant contracts were often based on a handshake and a man's word was his bond.

Then came the Comstock Lode--one of the most famous silver deposits ever near Virginia City, Nevada. Even so, for various reasons, the silver often made its way to the San Francisco mint rather than the Carson City mint further adding to the woes of a mint struggling with production already. The production from the Carson City mint never met the initial expectations and only produced Morgan silver dollars from 1878-1893.

Yet, millions of cartwheels were minted. Eventually, many of the CC series middle dates found their way to Washington DC where they sat in vaults undisturbed for many decades. Others went into circulation or met their demise during the melting of over 270 million silver dollars authorized by the Pittman Act of 1918. Fortunately for the collector, the silver dollars already in Washington DC vaults were saved this fate. Even though many bags of silver dollars were sold, it is felt most of the Carson City bags remained in the vaults. Estimates of total silver dollars melted top 330 million leaving less than half of the Morgan silver dollars minted remaining. A relative run on silver dollars in 1964 led to an audit of the government holdings which found over 2.9 million Carson City dollars. The decision was made to give collectors and the general public an opportunity to purchase them for the presumed mutual benefit of both collectors and the government. Hence the birth of the General Services Administration sales of the 1970's and 1980's.

These mail bid sales were advertised using multiple media sources and several different brochures, such as: The Coins Jesse James Never Got or The Carson City Silver Dollars- The Last of a Legacy (miner on front) and The Great Silver Sale-Carson City Silver Dollars. The first five GSA sales of the CC's started in October,1972 to June,1974. The final (6th and 7th) GSA sales of the CC morgans were February - July 1980.

Almost 3 million CC Morgans were again transported. This time they were taken to the West Point, New York Bullion Depository which had essentially become the center of operations for the GSA. The number and condition of the silver dollars varied greatly from one year to the next and were roughly as follows(Van Allen/Mallis 1991)/total mintage:

1878 CC 60,993/2,212,000
1879 CC 4,123/ 756,000
1880 CC 131,529/ 591,000
1881 CC 147,485/ 296,000
1882 CC 605,029/1,133,000
1883 CC 755,518/1,204,000
1884 CC 962,638/1,136,000
1885 CC 148,285/228,000
1889 CC 1/350,000
1890 CC 3,949/2,309,041
1891 CC 5,687/1,618,000
1892 CC 1/1,352,000
1893 CC 1/ 677,000

The coins were sorted by year and charactoristics including whether they were uncirculated, toned, had minor bag marks or scratches, or frankly damaged/had errors/rejects. Overall, 2-5% of the coins were rejects and 70-90% were of good collectible quality. As you can see above, a surprising number othe the original total mintage were preserved in the GSA hoard for some of the dates and very little for some of the others. Almost 28,000 non CC uncirculated coins were packaged as well.
The allure of the GSA Morgan silver dollars minted in Carson City is intriquing. Very few coins have a pedigree that can be traced back to their origin-even back to the silver they were minted from. The coins are freshly original as they have never been exposed to cleaning, alteration or even contact from an ungloved hand. The GSA dollars are unique in numismatics and the nice specimen that remain in original GSA packaging (many were cracked out years ago) are indeed a rare find and quite collectible.
A well preserved cartwheel would seem unlikely considering the adverse circumstances from which they survived. Compiling a high grade collection of these nice dollars has been an amazing challenge and much more difficult than it would seem for a relatively short series. It has required patience and perseverence and has been an incredible journey. This difficult project has confirmed that nice well preserved GSA dollars in the original packaging are scarce and command substancial premiums over their counterparts. This set is an attempt to compile a complete set of the Carson City minted silver dollars even though a few simply are not available in the original GSA holder at all or in the condition I was attempting to assemble for this set. This new set is a work in progress for the fun and joy of collecting coins-a great family hobby. Thanks to Doug Sharpe of Aspen RCT, Inc for tracking down some of these tough ones for me, the many other fine collectors and dealers I have met and the friends I have made throughout this endeavor.

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