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GSA sales make 1885-CC unusual $1

Sometimes truly remarkable things happen to a coin and that is the case with the 1885-CC Morgan silver dollar. This makes it one of the most interesting dollars in the series. That is no small accomplishment. Morgan dollars have many fascinating stories to tell.


At first glance, the 228,000 mintage 1885-CC looks like a fairly typical Carson City dollar date. It is on the low side, no doubt, indicating it might be a bit tough to find. But because it was part of the General Services Administration sales of Treasury silver dollars in the 1970s and 1980s, the 1885-CC can be found in Mint State with prices of $725 in MS-60 and $1,100 in MS-65.

The relatively narrow spread between the two prices tells you that there were some big numbers sold by the GSA. That is exactly right. The GSA sold 148,285 1885-CC silver dollars. That was 65.03 percent of the original mintage. While an amazing total, it is even more amazing to realize that in at least one case there was an even high percentage of the original mintage in the GSA sale.

The fact that so many 1885-CC coins were sold, made some forget that before the GSA sales, the 1885-CC was a very tough date. It had not been a major rarity as some bags had hit the market in the 1950s when there was little collector interest in the silver dollar. Those bags provided enough coins to keep the market satisfied that it was not to be considered one of the key Morgans.

Today, knowing that two-thirds of the mintage is available in Mint State makes it more understandable that it is nearly impossible to find an 1885-CC in a circulated grade.

This is according to Q. David Bowers in his “The Official Red Book of Morgan Dollars.”

“Ironically, the 1885-CC is the rarest of all Morgan dollars in circulated grades, eclipsing the 1889-CC, 1893-S and all other contenders. Bowers suggests that because of the Mint State supplies, the circulated 1885-CC coins are generally underappreciated.

Bowers was actually putting it mildly. At the Professional Coin Grading Service, they have graded only 274 circulated pieces. The rest of the 22,115 are Mint State. There are even thousands more more graded proof-like and deep-mirror proof-like.

Clearly the circulated coins are a minority.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation also has seen very view circulated examples compared to the many Mint State pieces.

Clearly the 1885-CC never circulated in any numbers. It is a truly remarkable situation. However, to find so few examples in any circulated grades does help explain why a VG-8 example is $550. Why would anyone pay it when for just a bit more money a Mint State example can be purchased? This an interesting question that goes to the very heart of why collectors focus on the grades they do. But beyond that, it must be pointed out that it is not normal for the price of a VG-8 coin to be 76 percent of an MS-60 price. Spreads are usually far wider.

Therefore, you can make the case that under the present set of circumstances, the 1885-CC is not your typical Morgan silver dollar date.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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