This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
The 1893-CC Morgan dollar is historic because it was the last of the Carson City Morgan dollars. The facility that had long been a disappointment would cease coin production after 1893 having never lived up to what officials thought was the potential of a mint located in the heart of the Comstock Lode.
In fact, 1893 was a tough year all around for the Mint. There was a large amount of money missing at the New Orleans facility with arrests and accusations flying. In addition, there were assorted articles in the press talking about the ridiculous situation in terms of silver dollars. It was not just the numismatic press of the day; it was Harper’s Weekly that talked about half a square mile of silver dollars.
There was some action taken that would be very important as the silver purchase clause of the Act of July 14, 1890, was repealed. That meant there would be no more silver purchases and that meant mintages would be dropping significantly as the other supplies of silver were limited. It all might have played a role in the decision on Carson City since the facility was doing little but producing silver dollars and gold.
The 1893-CC mintage was 677,000, which has to be seen as average for Carson City Morgan dollars. What happened to the mintage, however, was probably not normal. In the case of many of the Carson City dollars, they were shipped to Washington around 1900 to be stored. That ultimately kept them from being melted in the Pittman Act melting or being paid out in later years when a need surfaced. It enabled large numbers to be found among the final few million dollars still in the vault once the sale of $1,000 bags was halted in 1964.
However, it appears that some numbers of the 1893-CC did not make the trip to Washington. In fact, there are doubts as to whether any made the trip as the General Services Administration total was a single coin.
It would appear that instead of going to Washington, they went to the vault in San Francisco. There are reports even back to the 1920s of bags both in Washington and San Francisco.
There are other sporadic reports. Once again, they are not centered in one area. There is a report in Montana of a bag in 1955, probably from San Francisco. The Redfield estate had a bag, the coins of which were damaged from a counting machine. The best guess is that it too would have come from the vault in San Francisco, while the 10 bags reported by dealer Harry J. Forman are likely to have come from Washington.
One of the problems with this lack of pattern is that when the 1893-CC was released it was many times released to people who were not the least bit interested from a numismatic standpoint. Even when the coins did go to dealers or collectors, few would have been saved as there was no demand for an entire 1,000-coin bag. Moreover, some very well could have been taken from the vault in San Francisco and been melted.
While in the case of other Carson City dollars, the GSA sales would provide sometimes hundreds of thousands of examples to meet the demand, the single example of the 1893-CC was barely worth noting. Other possibilities like the Redfield coins also turned out to be disappointing and in the end the 1893-CC would be a much tougher Carson City dollar in Mint State.
The 1893-CC is not a great rarity, but it is tougher than many other Carson City dollars, especially in Mint State. That is seen in its $3,500 price in MS-60 and its $70,000 listing in MS-65, where some believe there may be about 25 known examples.
For the average collector, it’s not only a price but an availability problem as most exceptional examples are in strong hands and not for sale. Moreover, the 1893-CC is usually heavily bag-marked, so in lower grades eye appeal can be an issue. Combined, the factors make the 1893-CC a very tough and somewhat overlooked date.