Wayne MIller's Own 1895-O Morgan Dollar1895-O $1 MS67 PCGS. Offered by Superior Galleries in January 1986, with the following commentary: "A 'wonder' coin! Excellent luster with virtually no bag marks. Unequivocally the Finest Known specimen. Miller states that the only other specimen near to this one was the piece he purchased in 1970 from the Hardenburg Collection which was Prooflike but did not have the overall 'pizzazz' this coin possesses. Wayne Miller turned down $100,000 for this coin a few years ago. The 1895-O Dollar is one of the most amazing coins in this fabulous collection and is certainly worthy of a new record price." Today, these comments seem equally applicable. Current certification service data suggests just how elusive these coins are in Gem condition. PCGS and NGC have graded a total of 10 examples in all grades of MS65 or finer, including one MS66 example at each service as well as this solitary MS67 grade Superb Gem dollar. This is the only coin to receive the MS67 grade to date.
In the context of typical 1895-O Morgan Dollars, this example is an amazing exception. This example is plated in Wayne Miller's Textbook. In that reference, he wrote: "The typical 1895-O is poorly struck, with dull luster and many bagmarks. Full strikes are obtainable, but are almost invariably heavily abraded and/or lackluster. This date is excessively rare in gem uncirculated condition." In his Silver Dollar Encyclopedia, Dave Bowers expanded upon this discussion: "During this period, the coiners at the New Orleans Mint had a job to do: to coin as many silver dollars as possible in the least amount of time. To say that their workmanship was shoddy would be an understatement; from a numismatic viewpoint, it was terrible. Knowing that most of these silver dollars were not wanted in the channels of commerce and would simply go into bulk storage after they were minted, the workers had little incentive to create an attractive product. To churn out a stream of Morgan dollars with as little attention to the presses as possible, the coiners spaced the dies slightly too far apart, thus minimizing die wear and breakage. The result was as stated: terrible-looking coins." These production shortcuts actually suggested that the workers had considerable downtime, as the entire mintage was just 450,000 coins, or less than 2,000 coins per day.
Prior to the 1950s, few Mint State coins were known to exist, and nearly every collection, even some quite famous collections, contained circulated coins. Sometime in the 1950s, an extremely small quantity of pieces were released from the Treasury, the number of coins estimated to be between a few dozen and a couple hundred. Apparently there were none available in the Treasury during the early 1960s. Either they all went into circulation, or they were melted under provisions of the 1918 Pittman Act.
This Superb Gem is simply an incredible coin, quality that really shouldn't exist. Fully brilliant silver surfaces have remarkable luster, frosty devices with satiny fields. The reverse is slightly prooflike. It is an especially well struck example with nearly full detail on both sides, save for the hair strands above Liberty's ear, which are slightly merged.
Ex: Wayne Miller, acquired in January 1975 for $5,500 (Superior, 1/1986), lot 1310; Jack Lee 1; Jack Lee 2. From The Jack Lee Collection, III(#7236) (Registry values: P9, N19439) (NGC ID# 255Y, PCGS# 7236)
Weight: 26.73 grams
Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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