The 1879-CC was the first tough date Morgan dollar, and it remains so today because of its relatively low mintage. It is a coin with a lot of unanswered questions in its past, which makes it all the more interesting.
When the 1879-CC was produced, it was the second year of required Morgan dollar production. This meant that the vast stockpiles of Morgans that would later be present had not yet begun, and dollars from 1879 were more likely to be released into circulation.
In the case of the 1879-CC, there was a perfect or large CC variety, but also a large over small CC variety. It appears to there was an attempt to tool away the small CC so the larger or regular CC could be stamped in it?s place. The regular CC is more available but also more popular. However, the Redfield hoard was reported to have had 400 to 500 examples of the large over small CC variety, so it is available.
Precisely what happened to the 756,000 mintage of the 1879-CC remains a most interesting question. Just 4,123, or 0.55 percent, of the original mintage was discovered in the Treasury vaults to become part of the GSA sales in the 1970s. The bulk of the GSA sales dollars were Carson City dollars of the 1880s. Today?s prices for the 1879-CC do not suggest a big circulated supply, which might be the case if they were all released around 1879. A VG-8 is priced at $165 and an XF-40 is $735. Those might be fair prices especially considering its low mintage, but they suggest that there are no significant numbers available in circulated grades.
The 1879-CC also has no real record of large numbers appearing at any time in the past. In his book, The Official Red Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, Q. David Bowers points to a few bags paid out from Washington in the 1950s and another bag paid out from San Francisco. Still, a bag here and a few bags there do not equal 756,000.
It?s possible that the 1879-CC and perhaps the 1878-CC might not have made the trip to Washington where they would have been safe from melting during the Pittman Act of 1918. A significant number of the original mintages might well have been destroyed.
The 1879-CC is the second toughest Carson City dollar behind the 1889-CC. The 1879-CC lists for $4,150 in MS-60 and goes to $29,500 in MS-65. It is not readily available in any Mint State grade, and demand for top quality examples far outpaces the supply.
While we cannot really trace the 1879-CC?s history, the conspicuous absence of numbers tends to point to the Pittman Act melting. If that is the case, the 1879-CC will continue to be a challenge for future generations of Morgan dollar collectors. It is fitting in a sense since Carson City Morgan dollars have a reputation of being better dates.