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Everything You Need to Know about Carson City Morgan Dollars

2022-03-07 18:00:00
Everything You Need to Know about Carson City Morgan Dollars
Posted in: News, News

Everything You Need to Know about Carson City Morgan Dollars

The Morgan Silver Dollar is the most collected coin in the history of American numismatics, and those struck at the Carson City Mint have always been the most desirable issues of the series. Although the Comstock Lode, the first major silver ore discovery in the United States, occurred just a stone’s throw away from Carson City, only a small percentage of Morgan Dollars ever bore the “CC” mintmark. From their limited availability to their connection with the American Wild Western Frontier, these coins have left collectors clamoring for well over a century. This article will equip you with all you need to know about Carson City Morgan Dollars before building your very own collection. 


Carson City Morgans were Relatively Short-Lived

Carson City began minting Morgan Dollars from the series’ onset in 1878 and struck the coins annually through 1885. After a three-year hiatus, CC Morgans resumed production in 1889 until the Mint branch was closed in 1893. In total, only thirteen issues showcased the iconic “CC” mintmark.


Mintages were Low from Carson City

Carson City Morgans were struck in notoriously low volumes, with half of the issues’ mintages falling well below 1,000,000. Across thirteen issues, Carson City struck only 13,766,041 coins in total. To put into perspective how low that number is, in 1921 alone, the Denver Mint struck 20,345,000 Morgans!


There were a few Exceptional Issues

The key date Carson City Morgan is the 1889-CC. Its mintage of just 350,000 coins is the seventh-lowest of the series across all Mint branches. Its rarity, however, comes from its incredibly low survivorship rather than its mintage. Of the total struck, only 14,904 coins have been graded in any condition at all by NGC or PCGS. Even the poorest examples sell at auction for close to $1,000. The finest known MS68 coin sold at auction for $881,250 in 2013.

In general, issues struck from 1889 to 1893 are rarer than earlier Carson City dates in uncirculated condition. This is because these later coins actually entered circulation instead of remaining in U.S. Treasury vaults like earlier dates.

Two other issues stand out in terms of mintage: the 1881-CC and 1885-CC. With respective mintages of only 296,000 and 228,000 coins, the ‘81 and ’85 Morgans are the two lowest-struck from Carson City and are among the lowest of the entire series. While these coins boast incredibly low mintages, a large percentage of them survived in the GSA hoard, giving collectors access to truly stunning uncirculated, low mintage Carson City coins at collector friendly prices.


The GSA Hoard Changed the Collecting Game

It is impossible to tell the story of Carson City Morgan Dollars without mentioning the legendary GSA Hoard. In the 1960s, the U.S. Treasury discovered bags of over 2.8 million Morgan Dollars, over 95% of which were minted at Carson City. In 1970, Congress instructed the Treasury to give the coins to the General Services Administration (GSA) to market and sell the coins.

The GSA was given $10 million for its campaign and set up advertisements in post offices, banks, and various government buildings. The coins were packaged in hard cover holders that read, “CARSON CITY UNCIRCULATED SILVER DOLLAR.” Each coin was packaged with a certificated of authenticity that concisely chronicled the coins’ historical value with the following message:

“This historic coin is a valuable memento of an era in American history when pioneers were challenging the West. The silver in this dollar was mined from the rich Comstock Lode, discovered in the mountains near Carson City, Nevada.”

The GSA Hoard was an immense success, raising a whopping $107 million dollars in revenue between 1972 and 1980. Prior to this hoard’s release, several Morgan issues from Carson City were virtually unattainable because of heavy circulation and melts. This hoard gave collectors immediate access to the coins they had dreamed of for as long as they had been collecting.

Today, Carson City Morgans with a GSA pedigree are considered the true crème de la crème. At the time of their release, collectors did not like the bulky packaging. This was a time before coin grading services, so people had not grown accustomed to their coins in plastic cases. Instead of leaving them in the packaging, many collectors broke these coins out of their cases, storing them in more traditional methods such as coin albums.

At the onset of grading services, even PCGS and NGC would break these GSA coins out of their original government packaging and reholder them. After some time, though, people realized that removing the original packaging caused the coins to lose their pedigree. As a result, the coins become more and more popular in their original packaging. NGC and PCGS even started grading the coins in their GSA holders. Now, decades after the fact, the remaining cased examples are the most desirable of all.   



In Sum

Any Morgan Dollar struck at the Carson City Mint represents a vital piece of American and numismatic history. Simply put, these rare treasures are the most important and popular silver coins ever issued by the United States Mint. To acquire your very own Carson City Morgan Dollar, peruse RCTV’s extensive selection and choose the coin that best suits your collection.