When the topic is Carson City Morgan dollars, the main coin on everyone's mind has to be the 1889-CC. It is one of the key Morgan dollars and the key Carson City date. That alone is enough to make the it a special dollar in any grade.
The 1889-CC is the classic Carson City Morgan dollar ? the sort of tough coin that has made the Carson City facility famous with generations of collectors. Some Carson City Morgan dollars are not that tough, as they were found in original bags in the Treasury vaults in the mid 1960s and sold to collectors. The 1889-CC, however, was one example not found in those bags.
It had a lower mintage of 350,000, which took place in the final few months of the year, as none were produced prior to October.
Something out of the ordinary had to have taken place or the 1889-CC would not be as tough as it is. It is possible that many were melted due to the 1918 Pittman Act. With 270 million silver dollars destroyed, some numbers of any date were likely destroyed, although Carson City dollars in general were not heavily destroyed ? more than 50 percent of some dates were still found in the Treasury vaults in the 1960s.
Another conclusion is that back around 1890, the 1889-CC was paid out in larger numbers than was usually the case. There is some indication of that, as the supply of the 1889-CC in circulated grades is better than we might expect for a date with its reputation. In VG-8, the 1889-CC is $625, while a VF-20 is $1,600. The prices are not low, but this is a tough date and in a grade like VF-20, there are some coins on the market.
There are few signs of supplies after the first couple of years. Q. David Bowers has traced Morgan dollar dates in his book, The Official Red Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, and he finds evidence of only a few coins emerging from the Treasury. The better evidence of numbers seems to come from the West, with Bowers suggesting several Mint State bags rumored in Nevada. If there were bags of the 1889-CC in the West, that was unusual, as the majority of Carson City dollars were shipped to the Treasury around the turn of the century, so they usually did not appear in circulation in other areas of the country.
With little interest in silver dollars for many years, even if a bag or two had appeared, it is unlikely that there was extensive checking to find gem coins. More likely some examples would have been saved and the rest spent.
By the time anyone realized that the 1889-CC was elusive, especially in Mint State, it was too late. When no quantity appeared in the GSA sales, it dashed the hopes of finding it in any numbers in top grades.
The 1889-CC is tough in any Mint State grade today. It lists for $22,500 in MS-60 and $315,000 in MS-65. Examples in MS-63 and MS-64 appear frequently on the market, but in MS-65, the numbers drop significantly. There may be only a dozen or two examples known, guaranteeing enormous demand for every top-quality example.
In grades above MS-65, the competition is even more intense, because buyers know that there are only a couple higher-grade 1889-CC dollars, and any topping MS-65 would be considered a major prize. There is no reason to speculate on prices, because the right 1889-CC at the right sale could simply soar beyond any prediction.