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1893-S Morgan Dollar, MS64
Celebrated Low-Mintage Key
Only Three Finer Coins at NGC

1893-S $1 MS64 NGC. With a reported mintage of 100,000 pieces, the 1893-S silver dollar has the lowest mintage of any regular issue Morgan, making it the key date of the series (the supposed mintage of 12,000 circulation strike 1895 Morgan dollars, according to the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, turned out to be an accounting-error entry as those pieces were of earlier date).

The low mintage of the 1893-S Morgan dollar was the result of several factors. First, the year 1893 saw a financial panic of a magnitude previously unrecorded in U.S. history engulf the country, causing financial institutions to fail, the plight of farmers to worsen, and labor unrest to increase. Second, there was an oversupply of silver dollars in Treasury vaults, resulting from the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, a stepchild of the late 19th century Free Silver Movement. This act, a successor to the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, required the government to purchase $4.5 million of silver bullion a month to be turned into Morgan dollars, which piled up in vaults. Third, the new president, Grover Cleveland, a gold-standard Democrat who opposed the silver interests, called for repeal of the Sherman Act. All the above, plus silver mine closings and dwindling silver supplies from Nevada's Comstock Lode resulted in fewer Morgan dollars being struck between 1893 and 1895.

While the record-low production at the San Francisco Mint helps explain the 1893-S Morgan dollar's scarcity today, particularly in Mint State, it is possible that they became rarer when tens of thousands of the coins were melted under the terms of the 1918 Pittman Act, according to Q. David Bowers in Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia. This act permitted the melting of up to 350 million silver dollars for conversion into bullion and shipment to Great Britain during World War I and for use in the production of subsidiary U.S. coins.

The 1893-S dollar is generally considered to be the most desirable single Morgan dollar issue struck at a branch mint. Specimens are highly desired in all grades, and not just among Morgan dollar date and mintmark collectors. Many others just desire to have an example of this classic rarity in their collection.

Most surviving 1893-S Morgan dollars are in the Good to Very Fine range, with the majority of known pieces in the single grade category of Very Fine. Bowers writes in A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars that most such pieces circulated in the American West, "for an appropriate but apparently restricted time, to bring them to this grade. Mint State coins exist. However, among the great Treasury release coins of 1962 through 1964, no bag or even small group was found." NGC has certified, to date, just 27 Uncirculated 1893-S dollars, and PCGS 37 Mint State specimens (9/13). A number of these are likely resubmitted or crossover coins.

Only one hoard of 1893-S Morgan dollars has been reported, 20 Uncirculated pieces in an original bag of 1894-S dollars. This bag was discovered, according to Neil Berman in an October 2007 Numismatist article, by John Love in Great Falls, Montana, in the 1950s.

The popularity of the 1893-S has resulted in a number of fakes. Indeed, some researchers think the number of counterfeits might exceed the number of genuine pieces! Fortunately for collectors, the entire issue was struck from one known die pair. Genuine coins show two diagnostics, a die polish line in the center of the crossbar of the T in LIBERTY and two tiny die chips that resemble "rabbit ears" in the left base of the R. These diagnostics are visible even on well-worn coins.

This near-Gem example displays pleasing luster on both sides, each of which shows hints of prooflike reflectivity. Some field-motif contrast is evident when the coin is tilted under a light, especially on the reverse. The design elements are sharply impressed, including the hair above Liberty's ear, which is almost fully delineated. Soft rainbowlike toning resides along the upper obverse border; otherwise, the remaining surfaces are mostly untoned. A couple of unobtrusive grazes are visible between stars 3 and 4 and 4 and 5, and a couple of minute marks are seen on the left part of the neck. None of these detract and are mentioned solely for pedigree purposes. All in all, this coin displays excellent eye appeal. Census: 10 in 64, 3 finer (9/13).(Registry values: P10, N10218) (NGC ID# 255U, PCGS# 7226)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
1st-3rd Friday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 5,422

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