The 2005 Chief Justice John Marshall silver dollar was certainly appropriate, but it was not likely to be terribly popular. Americans have enough trouble trying to remember who the current Chief Justice of the United States is, much less the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
There is no doubt that Justice Marshall, who was sworn in on Feb. 4, 1801, and served for 34 years, had an enormous impact both on the Supreme Court and on the way American judges and legal scholars would view the law right up to the present day. His 250th birthday deserved to be recognized even if relatively few knew who he was or of his contribution to the nation.
Public Law 108-290 authorized just 400,000 Marshall silver dollars. That was down 100,000 from the normal authorizations of the period. This is probably because there was no point in authorizing more as sales were going to be limited.
The design alone should have sold a few extra examples. By modern commemorative standards, it is interesting with a profile of Marshall prepared by John Mercanti from a Marshall profile by Charles de Saint-Memin. The reverse is an especially interesting approach that features the interior of the old Supreme Court chamber where Marshall served, prepared by Donna Weaver. We get more than enough buildings on coins but always the exterior, and that makes this interior view an interesting change.
Probably sensing there would be limited sales, the Mint packaged the Marshall dollar with practically anything and everything. There was a legacy collection featuring the Marshall dollar and other issues of 2005 including the Marine Corps dollar.
The Coin and Chronicles set that packaged the Marshall dollar with a print of a statue of Marshall and a booklet is still basically at its $59.95 issue price. Appearances would have it that the 25,000 authorized sets failed to sell out. This probably reflects the fact that, despite continued efforts, when the Mint packages a coin with other items, collectors rarely respond with much enthusiasm.
In terms of the coins by themselves, the proof version had a pre-issue price of $35, while in the regular ordering period it was $39. The BU was $33 in the pre-issue period and $35 in the regular ordering period.
The sales turned out to be 141,993 proofs and 48,953 uncirculated examples. The low sales makes the Marshall silver dollar an interesting coin for the future in terms of price.
Right now some modern commemorative silver dollars are not at the prices we might expect based on their mintages. That is definitely the case with the Marshall silver dollar. It is, however, relatively early to expect significant changes. That will change and when it does, it would be no surprise to see the Marshall silver dollar at higher prices.