Branch Mint Proof 1921-S Morgan Dollar/The Wayne Miller Plate Coin1921-S MS 64 Prooflike PCGS. Possible Branch Mint Proof. Once again we turn to Wayne Miller and his expertise in the area of branch mint proof dollars for the background on this particular coin. The 1921-S is the fourth date listed among Class I branch mint proofs. That is, coins that were authorized and produced as proofs. This coin was recently submitted to PCGS for grading, and it was returned as a Prooflike. We speculate this is due, in large part, to the dull gray patina seen over each side which tends to subdue the polished, mirrored effects of the fields. This is the plate coin in Miller's reference, The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook, and may be seen on page 240. While Miller comments on the lack of highpoint detail on this coin, we do not completely agree. While there is some softness over the ear on the obverse, the wreath on the reverse is completely articulated. And it is the wreath that is used as one of the reference points for fullness of strike on 1921 Morgan dollars because of the design modifications made in that year.
The following extensive passage is excerpted from Miller's Textbook, pages 240-241, in which he discusses this particular coin at length. "In a 1951 conversation with Wayte Raymond, his mentor and a legend in the coin profession, Walter Breen was advised that two dozen 1921-S proof Morgan dollars had been struck for Farran Zerbe, probably to complement the Philadelphia proofs which Zerbe had also caused to be produced.
"Only four or five specimens of the 1921-S proof Morgan dollar are known. Breen indicates that the American Numismatic Society and the Chase Bank in Manhattan each have one. The author has also heard of two pieces in Eastern collections, but has not been able to confirm this.
"The fifth piece, and the only one the author has seen...was first attributed as a proof by Breen, and repurchased by the consignor for $1,900 in a 1975 GENA sale by Pine Tree Auctions. In 1981 it was sold by Leroy Lenhart of American Coin Company to the current owner for $10,000.
"This coin is by far the least attractive of all the known branch mint proof Morgan dollars. It is very flat struck, which is unique for a branch mint proof dollar. A considerable percentage of business strike 1921-S dollars also exhibit a similar lack of high-point detail. Therefore, it is possible that a die which had been used for business strike coins was commandeered for the production of the two dozen proofs. The fact that these proofs appear to have been made as an afterthought, toward the close of the year 1921, under pressure from one person (Zerbe), tends to support this hypothesis.
"The coin is toned an unattractive light brown. The surfaces are mirrored, but are those of a dull gray brilliant proof. Further, the coin exhibits minor contact marks, mostly on the obverse.
"...it may be assumed that the other specimens exhibit the same poor strike and dull gray surfaces.
"With five or fewer specimens known, the 1921-S proof Morgan dollar must be considered a major rarity."
Ex: 1975 GENA Sale (Pine Tree); Leroy Lenhart; Wayne Miller: Wayne Miller Collection (Superior, 1/86), lot 1401; Anita Maxwell Trust of Silver Dollars. (NGC ID# 27ZP, PCGS# 7347)
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