Lustrous Mint State 1893-S Morgan Dollar1893-S $1 MS63 PCGS. Ex: Jackson Hole. Brilliant and sharply struck with satiny silver luster. Both sides are entirely untoned, except for a trace of subliminal gold on the reverse. A few scattered ticks are expected for the grade, but none stand alone.
In all grades, this date is the rarest of all Morgan dollars, and it is easily the most famous. It is difficult to say what Mint State grade constitutes the best value to prospective bidders, although MS63 seems to be an excellent choice. Of course, budget constraints dictate that most collectors must be content with a circulated piece to represent the date. Even with the tremendous prices that these coins have been bringing over the last 35 years, few Mint State examples have ever come to light.
The actual surviving population of Mint State examples today is subject to debate. Clearly the grading service data is subject to substantial numbers of resubmissions and cannot be relied upon as an accurate figure. In his 1993 Silver Dollar Encyclopedia, Dave Bowers estimated a population of 97 to 189 Mint State pieces. At that time, he noted the opinion of numismatist Weimar White who suggested that not more than 30 such coins still existed. Perhaps swayed by that suggestion, Bowers revised his estimate downward to 57 to 80 coins in his 2004 Official Red Book of Morgan Silver Dollars.
The entire mintage of just 100,000 coins was struck in January 1893 and produced from a single die pair, according to conventional wisdom, and every genuine example has the identical die characteristics. This is extremely important for authentication, as counterfeit examples do exist. Of course, in today's environment of independent grading and certification, counterfeit coins do not provide the same problem that they used to. It is still important to recognize a genuine example, and the diagonal die line through the top of the T in LIBERTY is the key to recognition of genuine examples. This die line is visible on nearly any-grade coin, and high quality examples such as this piece show a continuation of this die line into the cap.
Despite the limited mintage of this date, the surviving population of Mint State coins is surprisingly low. Wayne Miller once reported the finding of 20 pieces in a bag of otherwise 1894-S dollars located in Montana, but no other groupings of these coins have been discovered since the 1940s, at the latest.
The year 1893 brought several events that ultimately influenced this and related issues. The silver purchase clause of the Act of July 14, 1890 was repealed on November 1, 1893, resulting in a drastically reduced need for silver to be converted into coinage. For the next few years, mintages of silver dollars were substantially smaller than in previous years. The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, brought an issue of commemorative quarters and half dollars that did much to increase the popularity of coin collecting at that time. Finally, in 1893 Augustus Heaton published a little book simply titled Mint Marks. Prior to this publication, little attention was paid to the small identifying marks on the branch mint coins. Dave Bowers noted: "Up to this time there had been no widespread collector interest in branch mint coinage, and not even the Mint Cabinet had aspired to acquire examples of pieces struck at Carson City, Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, or San Francisco. Readers learned 'causes of attractiveness,' as Heaton put it, of various coins produced with mintmarks. These 'causes' are interesting to read today." Population: 9 in 63, 11 finer (2/07).
From The Jackson Hole Collection.(Registry values: P10, N10218) (NGC ID# 255U, PCGS# 7226)
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