The closing of an historical minting facility, two commemorative issues, and the mintage of two popular Morgan dollars make 1893 a unique and special year for numismatists.
Silver and gold coins were struck at the Carson City Mint from 1870-1893. Coins with the CC mintmark have historical and numismatic appeal to this day. Many CC mint coins are rarities, with one, the 1873-CC dime without arrows, being unique.
In the final year of operations, the Carson City Mint struck silver dollars and three denominations of gold coins: $5, $10, and $20.
For the 1893-CC, 677,000 silver dollars were struck, along with a few branch mint proofs. This date and mint is in high demand among Morgan dollar collectors. This coin can be found in all grades, from well-worn Good to Mint State. A Mint State coin can sell for high prices. Even a worn coin is a major addition to a Morgan dollar set. These coins circulated out West, passing through many hands, and are real pieces of history.
Perhaps a dozen proofs were struck of the final Carson City dollar.
Silver dollars were minted at Philadelphia and New Orleans. Neither is scarce, and both are overshadowed by the CC and S-mint coins.
Only 60,000 gold half eagles were minted at Carson City; 14,000 gold eagles; and 18,402 gold double eagles. Carson City gold coins are prized by collectors who specialize in products from this mint and want to put together sets of CC coins.
Indian cents and Liberty nickels were minted at Philadelphia in 1893. Mintage figures were healthy, and these two coins are readily available in all grades. Barber dimes were minted at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco, with the branch mint coins selling for good premiums. Barber quarters and half dollars were also minted at those three mints; all are common but for the 1893-S half dollar. Its mintage was well below one million.
Besides the famous Carson City coin, Morgan dollars were struck at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The 1893-S is the key to the Morgan dollar set, except for the 1895 proof. With a low mintage of only 100,000 – low for a Morgan dollar – this coin is in high demand as the top coin in one of the most popular collector series.
Collectors should be careful of counterfeits. I once saw one, rather poorly done. The S mintmark had been removed from another coin and soldered on an 1893-P dollar. The bottom of the reverse had been smoothed out, perhaps to hide tooling marks. Chinese fakes are improving all the time. This is why slabs are important.
Philadelphia minted gold coins in four denominations this year, with the $2.50 quarter eagle having a mintage of 30,000. Check the prices for this coin. Like many other coins in the Liberty quarter eagle series, it’s a genuinely scarce coin that does not command a hefty premium.
The P-mint half eagle, eagle, and double eagle have higher mintages. San Francisco minted gold half eagles, eagles, and double eagles.
New Orleans struck eagles and half eagles. Only 17,000 eagles were minted, another gold coin with a low mintage that is virtually undiscovered. The half eagle is much more common.
Proofs were made of the regular-issue coins: 2,195 of the cent and nickel, 792 of the silver coins, and much smaller numbers for the gold. Only 55 proof eagles were struck.
In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago. Open to the public on May 1, 1893, The Exposition spurred the production of many souvenirs. Elongated coins, spoons, tickets, maps, and many other souvenirs were produced for this event. Perhaps the best known of the souvenirs are two of the first classic commemorative coins.
The Columbian half dollar was first minted in 1892; production continued into 1893. The 1893 coin is a bit more common. The coin’s obverse depicts an artist’s rendering of Christopher Columbus, as no known portraits exist. The reverse shows two globes and Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria. These coins were sold for a dollar each at the Exposition. A good number of these coins did not sell and eventually were melted or entered circulation, sometimes turning up in change or in a bank roll. I know of two collectors who found these half dollars searching bank rolls.
Also minted was the 1893 Isabella quarter, the first United States coin depicting a real woman and not an allegorical figure. The reverse shows a woman holding a distaff. These quarters were also sold for a dollar, and many did not sell.
Some proofs, about 100, of these coins were struck. The details, especially on the half dollar’s globes and Isabella’s crown, are sharp and perfect, far superior to the Mint State coins. Surfaces are mirror-like.
1893 is a special year for commemorative specialists, Morgan dollar collectors, Carson City fans, and numismatists who appreciate genuinely scarce coins.
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