Welcome to Steve's blog, sharing stories of his professional coin career, 1963 to date. Enjoy stories of Steve's numismatic journey.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1893-CC Morgan Bag: Two Thumbs Down

Steve Markoff
Photo www.procon.org
One day in 1965 I headed to Los Angeles from San Diego to deal with a few business matters.  I needed to buy some gold for the shop and wanted to visit a couple of dealers.  One of my stops was to see Steve Markoff1 who worked out of a small downtown office at the time.

When I arrived at Steve’s office, he was in the middle of working with another coin dealer and silver dollars were spread out on the table in front of them.  They were discussing an entire bag of 1893-CC Morgan Dollars.  Perhaps this bag of dollars was acquired as part of the U.S. government dispersal program.2

Steve asked me to take a look at the bag and give him my thoughts.  In so doing, I learned a great deal about 93-CCs.

As you know, 1893 was the last year of the Carson City Mint’s coinage production and its final issue is a collector favorite. Existing examples tend to be found either in lower grades, such as VG-8 to Fine-12, or Mint State.  Lack of remaining mid-grade examples suggests the issue was immediately and heavily circulated.

Uncirculated 1893-CCs can be quite frosty, with good luster, but examples are worse than average for abrasions and marks. 

The bag we were exploring in Steve Markoff’s office contained BU coins.  What I immediately noticed was the flat strike on many to most of the pieces.  There were lots of marks, but when coupled with the flat strike, these coins were very unpleasant.

In his book An Analysis of Morgan and Peace Dollars, Wayne Miller notes “probably half of the [1893-CC] uncirculated specimens are very poorly struck; some are devoid of detail even on the eagle’s wing tips.  Such specimens usually sell for 30 – 50% less than well struck pieces.”

Moments later, Steve and I stepped aside and conferred about the dollar deal displayed on his table -- in particular the poor strike and baggy nature of the issue, and how interested collectors would be, given the complications.  Steve decided to pass on this bag; it would have taken him a long time to recoup his investment.

This same type of 1893-CC is available today. With poor strike and lots of marks, they are still a bad deal.  It pays to wait for a nice, well struck coin. 

Here is a PCGS MS-63 example we had in stock in 2009.  While it displays some softness in the hair and breast feathers, its strike is well above average.  It also has minimal marks for the issue and grade.
1Steve Markoff was a precious metals and coin dealer in the LA area for over 50 years, affiliated with A-Mark Financial Corporation and a variety of other business and community ventures. 

2Prior to 1964 silver dollar bags could be ordered via Federal Reserve banks or acquired from the "Cash Room" at the Treasury Building in WashingtonD.C.

 In 1964, the federal government was winding down the exchange of silver certificates for silver dollars. After the program ended, the government retained some original mint sealed bags of silver dollars.  

On March 25, 1964, the Treasury called a halt to sales of silver dollar bags. By that time, only about three million silver dollars remained in the Treasury Building vaults. Many of these remaining dollars became part of the distribution of single coins (referred to as the GSA Hoard) sold by the government via five mail bid sales between October 31, 1972 and June 30, 1974.

Treasure Department records concerning the quantities of dates and mints distributed prior to March 25, 1964 are limited; only one single 1893-CC specimen was part of the GSA Hoard.  

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