"The Last Carson City Morgan Dollar": How the "CC" Mintmark Returned
The Carson City Mint only struck silver Morgan Dollars for a span of 13 years from 1878 to 1893. Due to this limited run, Morgan Dollars with the illustrious “CC” mintmark are a favorite among numismatists. Devoted Carson City collectors also seek out a rare error variety produced in 1900, sometimes referred to as "the Last Carson City Morgan Dollar."
The Carson City Mint was created to handle the influx of silver from the Comstock Lode. It was better for the U.S. to construct a mint closer to the silver mine rather than ship the raw metal to the Philadelphia Mint. The Carson City Mint closed in 1893, ending the run of silver dollars struck at the Mint of the Wild West. With this closure ended the dream of ever seeing “CC” on a Morgan Dollar again.
Through a mysterious set of circumstances, a die variety of a Morgan Dollar struck 7 years after the Carson City Mint closed almost featured the “CC” mintmark. An over mintmark die variety of the 1900-O Morgan Dollar has the “O” mintmark super imposed on the “CC” mintmark. But how did this happen?
One theory behind the 1900-O/CC is that dies were prepared for Carson City coins in advance and were repurposed. All dies were created at the Philadelphia Mint before they were shipped out to the branch mints. Mint workers may have prepared extra “CC” mintmark reverses, but when the mint was closed, those dies were useless. Rather than destroying or throwing away these dies, a mint worker might have altered the die and stamped the New Orleans mintmark over the Carson City mintmark.
Another theory is that an absent-minded mint worker might have hand-stamped the “CC” mintmark onto the dies by mistake. At that time, it was common for the mint marks to be hand-stamped onto the dies after they were created at the Philadelphia Mint. A “CC” stamp might still have existed and could have been used in error on dies meant for the New Orleans Mint. Once the mistake was caught, each die would have been stamped over with the proper “O” mintmark. As Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis noted in their Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars, at least 6 die marriages contain the over mintmark variety.
Regardless of how this amazing variety came to be, fans of the Carson City Mint have one more issue to add to their collection. With over 12 million 1900-O Morgan Dollars were struck, it is unknown how many display this “O” over “CC” mintmark variety. Between PCGS and NGC, just 12,092 have been identified with this specific error variety. While 1893 will always be the year that the Carson City Mint closed and struck its final silver dollar, this 1900-O/CC is known as the “Last Carson City Morgan Dollar”.