1921 Morgan Dollar, PR65
1921 $1 Chapman PR65 NGC. This is among the finest examples
of the Chapman proofs that Heritage has ever had the privilege to
offer -- now back for a repeat performance. This is likely the
rarest proof Morgan dollar (a term that acquires special
meaning in conjunction with this issue), particularly since some
expert numismatists exclude the controversial Zerbe proofs as
merely prooflike dollars struck from hairlined dies.
The Rare 'Chapman' Proof'
The story of the creation of the Chapman proofs bears repeating here (courtesy of Bowers' Silver Dollar Encyclopedia:
"In 1921, [coin dealer] Henry Chapman went to the Mint and had some mirror-surface Proofs struck to his order. This was done clandestinely by or for George T. Morgan, chief engraver, who had a little 'rare coin business' going on the side. Walter H. Breen reported that he has seen 'the bill of sale for 10 Proofs, Morgan to Chapman.' The original production of mirror-type Proofs must have been very small, perhaps just 15 in all (10 to Chapman, five to Ambrose Swasey). They were not officially sold by the mint, nor were any proof sets made that year."
Further down in Bowers' discussion he quotes Breen concerning diagnostics of the Chapman proofs or, as Bowers calls them, "mirror-surface Proofs":
"On the five Proofs Engraver Morgan sold to Ambrose Swasey, 6/4/21, and the 10 Morgan sold to Henry Chapman a week later, a short line points from rim to third star, and ends about 1 mm away; two die polish lines up from rim to first 1; hollow around Morgan's initial M (from overpolished die). Reverse dash between right star and wreath, touching neither; another, fainter, slanting up from left upright of I(CA); a third between S(T) and I of [IN], touching neither; faint scattered die striations around UN AM RICA."
The present example shows only slight contrast between the fields and devices, more so on the reverse, and it is untoned. The "short die line" appears at the rim a couple of dentils up from star 3, and points diagonally downward toward that star. The first of the "two die polish lines" starts four dentils left of the left side of the first 1 and runs diagonally upward through the top serif; the second die line starts one dentil to the left and intersects the bottom of the 1. The "hollow" around Morgan's initial is clear. On the reverse the "dash between right star and wreath, touching neither" is plain; and the list goes on. The only die marker the present cataloger could not detect is the faint dash slanting from the top of I(CA).
This coin is a must-have for the dedicated Morgan dollar proof specialist, especially those who already own the 1895 Morgan proof and the 1878 7 Tail Feathers proofs. Census: 3 in 65, 1 finer (2/13).
Ex: St. Louis Central States Signature (Heritage, 5/2007), lot 2192, which brought $57,500.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part III.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 2579, PCGS# 7342)
View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part III ]
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