The Morgan dollar is a quintessentially American numismatic collectible, having become one of the most beloved of all United States coins. Issued from 1878 through 1904 and once more in 1921, the Morgan dollar was designed by George T. Morgan and saw wide use throughout the western United States, where much of the silver to produce the coin was originally mined. While all Morgan dollars enjoy immense popularity with numismatists, pieces from the western mints, including Carson City, Denver, and San Francisco, see a particularly strong following. The 1884-S Morgan dollar is among this select class, having been minted at the San Francisco Mint.
Like all physically large, heavy coins, the Morgan dollar had a propensity to see heavy contact marks due to the sheer heft of the coin lending to more damage while being conveyed in bags through channels of transit and commerce. Therefore, it’s uncommon to find Morgan dollars in grades of MS65 or better. Specimens in MS66 and up are extremely scarce; those in MS67 are decidedly rare. And pieces in MS68? Well…
The 1884-S Morgan dollar isn’t necessarily rare in the absolute sense, as 3,200,000 were struck. But it’s a tough coin in the better circulated grades and scarce anywhere in the uncirculated levels, selling for more than $9,000 even in MS60. Only one is graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) in MS65, just one in MS67, and another in the highest grade of MS68 – that latter specimen is the one being featured here.
It has belonged in the cabinets of famous collectors George Bodway, Jack Lee, and Larry H. Miller and was described by Morgan dollar expert Wayne Miller as a “wonder” coin. And what’s not to love about it? It’s nearly flawless – about as pristine as it gets for a Morgan dollar. And yet it is among the very rarest of all Morgan dollars in this condition… There are only a tiny handful of 1884-S survivors in the Gem grades or better. This lovely specimen boasts gleaming luster and soft, frosted luster; it’s original through and through with sharp detail on the obverse and reverse.
This piece was graded by PCGS many years ago and is in an old green holder with its MS68 label. It crossed the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction block in November 2020 for $750,000.
*Images are courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.