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The Three Greatest Morgan Dollars Ever Sold

2021-05-06 21:20:00
The Three Greatest Morgan Dollars Ever Sold
Posted in: News, News

The Three Greatest Morgan Dollars Ever Sold

Last November and December, the numismatic world witnessed an unprecedented event, as three of the most renowned and sought-after Morgan dollars on the collectible market were sold at auction. Conducted by Stacks, the auction sold off the coin collection of the late Larry H. Miller, consisting of over 1,600 individual pieces. With 36 coins selling for six figures or more, and 3 that sold for more than a million, the total sales of the auction came close to $24 million. All proceeds of the auction went to the construction of Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi, Utah, a fitting tribute to Miller’s charitable and caring legacy.

A legendary collector of Morgan Dollars, Larry H. Miller had assembled some of the finest examples of the series ever discovered.  Included among these famed Morgans were Superb Gem Uncirculated examples of the 1884-S, 1886-O, and 1896-S, all of which are known for being the most desirable examples of their issues and possibly the entire series. Each of these three coins was previously owned by the legendary collector Jack Lee, one of the greatest numismatists of all time. Jack Lee’s collection of Morgans is widely considered to have been the greatest ever assembled, adding to the illustrious history of these three coins.

1884-S MS68 PCGS CAC Jack Lee - Sold for $750,000

The 1884-S is known for being extremely difficult to find in uncirculated grades, with just 808 known examples in Mint State condition, and only six in Mint State 65 or higher. This particular example is the sole 1884-S graded in Mint State 68 condition, making it the finest known of the issue. Most of the 1884-S issue was put into circulation, and those that weren’t were ultimately melted down under the Pittman Act of 1918. Against all odds, this example managed to survive and become the numismatic treasure that it is today.

1886-O MS67 DMPL PCGS Jack Lee - Sold for $780,000

Over half of the 1886-O mintage was melted under the Pittman Act, and most surviving examples are heavily bag-marked. As a result, finding an 1886-O Morgan Dollar in Uncirculated condition is truly difficult to do. This specific coin is the finest known Deep Mirror Proof-Like example in the entire series as well as the single finest known for its issue, with the next highest grade 1886-O only reaching Mint State 64. Wayne Miller, a renowned expert on Morgan Dollars, is on record saying that this coin is “the most spectacular Morgan Dollar now known.” With a reputation as illustrious as this example, it is no wonder this coin sold for almost a million dollars.

1896-S MS69 PCGS Jack Lee - Sold for $720,000

The 1896-S Morgan Dollar comes from an issue that offers very few high-quality examples, most of which are graded in Very Fine condition or lower. Like the 1886-O, much of this issue’s mintage was melted down during the Pittman Act, and those Mint State examples that did survive are often seriously abraded and softly struck. With a grade of Mint State 69, the cherished 1896-S Morgan Dollar that was part of the Larry Miller collection is the single finest known for the issue. In total, only nine Morgan Dollars have been graded in Mint State 69 condition out of the 656 million Morgan Dollars struck in the entire series. For such an incredibly well-preserved coin to come from such an unlikely issue is nothing short of a miracle.

With such remarkable pedigrees and unmatched quality, it’s no surprise these coins were so hotly contested at the auction. For any collector of Morgan Dollars, these three coins represent the Holy Grail of numismatics. Given the astronomical rarity of these coins, it is highly unlikely that examples of this stature will appear at auction in the near future.