Sometimes truly remarkable things happen to a coin. This is the case with the 1885-CC Morgan dollar, making its story one of the most interesting of all Morgan dollars.
At first glance, the 228,000-mintage 1885-CC looks like a fairly typical Carson City dollar date. The mintage was on the low side, but like other Carson City dollars, the 1885-CC was part of the great GSA sales in the 1970s. As a result, it can be found today in Mint State with prices of $605 in MS-60 and $1,350 in MS-65.
The relatively narrow gap in price means that there had to be some strong numbers sold by the GSA. The sales included 148,285 examples of the 1885-CC, or 65.03 percent of the original mintage.
The fact that so many examples of the 1885-CC were sold has perhaps made some forget that it was a very tough date before the sales. It wasn’t a major rarity, however, since there had been some bags that appeared in the 1950s. There wasn’t tremendous collector interest, but Carson City dollars were different and far more likely to be saved when the opportunity appeared. It is not the most available Carson City silver dollar date, but it is certainly more available than dates like the 1889-CC or 1879-CC.
The 1885-CC’s low mintage has kept it in the minds of many as a better Carson City dollar date. After all, with its large numbers in the GSA sales, it is similar to the 1881-CC that also had a mintage of less than 300,000 and a nearly identical number in the GSA sales.
What makes the story of the 1885-CC so interesting is that, while available in Mint State, it is nearly impossible to find in circulated grades. Q. David Bowers states in his book, The Official Red Book of Morgan Dollars, that “Ironically the 1885-CC is the rarest of all Morgan dollars in circulated grades, eclipsing the 1889-CC, 1893-S and all other contenders.” He goes on to suggest that the circulated 1885-CC coins are “generally unappreciated.”
Bowers may be putting it mildly. Professional Coin Grading Service has graded about 14,250 examples of the 1885-CC. The number in all circulated grades combined stands at eight, ranging from AU-53 to AU-58. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has graded it more than 4,600 times. They report a circulated total of three coins, perhaps including the world’s worst 1885-CC: a VF-20.
It is remarkable to find so few examples in any circulated grades, but it does help to explain why the 1885-CC lists for $575 in VG-8. It’s not normal for a VG-8 Morgan to be more than 50 percent of the price of an MS-60, or more than 20 percent of the price of an MS-65. The 1885-CC is definitely not normal.
One could make the case that it is far too cheap in circulated grades. If you are going to spend $585 on a VF-20, you might as well spend the extra $20 to get an MS-60. It’s a very unusual situation that makes the 1885-CC a fascinating coin. ◆