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Description

Elusive 1921-S Near-Gem Branch Mint Proof Morgan Dollar

1921-S $1 PR64 PCGS. The appearance of a 1921-S proof Morgan dollar at a public sale is cause for excitement. It is thought that fewer than 25 of these coins were struck, and their appearance on the market is infrequent. Walter Breen, in his 1977 Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, refers to what may be the first report of the '21-S proof Morgan: "Wayte Raymond told me in 1951 that Farran Zerbe had those coins made at San Francisco to go with the Philadelphia proofs from the first dollar dies received at the mint."
Stuart Mosher, who was in charge of the coin collections in the Smithsonian Institution, elaborated on Zerbe's 1921-S Morgan proof involvement in an article he published in the July 1955 The Numismatist. Mosher said that Zerbe was in California in 1921 awaiting the arrival of the dies that were to be used to strike the first Peace dollars that he had designed. The dies that did arrive turned out to be those for the old Morgan design that had not been coined since 1904. The story goes that Zerbe told the chagrined Mint officials that they could mollify his disappointment "if they would strike off a few Morgan dollars from the new 1921 dies in proof condition. They were happy to oblige and manufactured about two dozen which he bought and later handed out to his various coin collecting friends."
The nearly brilliant surfaces of the specimen offered in the present lot display a thin veneer of barely discernible champagne color, accented by occasional speckles of gold-tan patina in the border areas. The design elements are well executed, save for minor softness on Liberty's ear lobe, in the hair above the ear, and on the eagle's breast feathers. A few minor contact marks on Liberty's face and neck, and some wispy hairlines scattered about, preclude a higher grade. Pronounced die striations are also noted around portions of the reverse margins, an angling die scratch is visible through the top of the second 1 in the date, two spots of die polish are seen below the fold in the upper part of the cap, and there is complete die polish between the back of the eagle's neck and left (right facing) wing. The above diagnostics on this issue were first identified by Chief Cataloger Mark Van Winkle in his investigation of several branch mint proof Morgan dollars (including the 1921-S) from the Anita Maxwell Trust consignment to the 1995 ANA and published in the October 9, 1995 issue of Coin World. Population: 2 in 64, 0 finer (11/05).
From The JFS Collection, Part Three.(Registry values: P2) (PCGS# 7348)

View all of [The JFS Collection, Part Three ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2006
3rd-7th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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