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    1921-S Morgan Dollar, SP64
    Rare Zerbe Proof, Possibly 24 Examples Struck
    Only Five Pieces Extant

    1921-S $1 SP64 PCGS Secure. CAC. The 1921-S Zerbe proofs were struck near the end of the year in 1921, at the request of prominent numismatist Farran Zerbe. The coins are great rarities in the Morgan dollar series, much more elusive than their Philadelphia counterparts. The official mintage total is unknown, but the most-often quoted figure is just 24 pieces struck. At least five examples survive today, as detailed in our roster below. PCGS has graded a total of five coins, possibly including some resubmissions, while NGC has not certified any examples of this issue. Stuart Mosher told the story of the origin of these coins in an article in the July 1955 issue of The Numismatist:

    "About 10 years ago, Farran Zerbe, father of the Peace dollar and our first American numismatic missionary, told me an intriguing story regarding a branch mint Morgan dollar issued in proof.
    "In 1921 he was in California awaiting the arrival of the dies that were to be used to strike the first Peace dollars at the San Francisco Mint. The Mint phoned him that the dies had arrived and he hastened there to see them put into operation. The new 1921 dies had arrived all right but they turned out to be dies for the old Morgan design which had not been coined since 1904, and not the dies for the Peace dollar which he had worked so hard and long to promote.
    "Mr. Zerbe told me that he suggested to the chagrined Mint officials that they could assuage his disappointment somewhat 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 throughout the country. While I have never seen one of these proofs it is logical to suppose some of them are extant."

    Only a handful of specimens are known today, including this impressive SP64 example. The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas but, like all examples of this issue, the feathers on the eagle's breast are not distinct. Most numismatists believe the detail was not completely engraved into the die, accounting for the flatness always seen in this area. The fields display the moderate reflectivity associated with Zerbe proofs, mixed with some cartwheel mint luster on both sides. The well-preserved surfaces show a few hints of pale gold toning, adding to the outstanding eye appeal.

    The following roster lists the grades of the coins we have traced in their last auction appearances. Current population data shows two SP65 coins and three SP64 coins, all at PCGS (5/14). These figures may include resubmissions, as we do not believe the ANS coin has been certified. Mark Van Winkle remembers seeing what may be another example prior to the 1979 ANA Convention.

    Roster of 1921-S Zerbe Proof Morgan Dollars
    1. SP65 PCGS. Rosemont Signature (Heritage, 8/2013), lot 5795, realized $117,500.
    2. SP64 PCGS. The present coin.
    3. MS64 Prooflike PCGS, possible branch mint proof. Seen by Walter Breen at the 1975 ANA Convention; GENA Convention Sale (Pine Tree, 11/1975), bought in; American Coin Company (Leroy Lenhart) by 1981; Wayne Miller Collection (Superior, 1/1986), lot 1401; Timeless Treasures (Kingswood Coin Auctions, 11/1999), lot 657; Anita Maxwell Trust of Silver Dollars (Heritage, 8/1995), lot 7509. The Wayne Miller plate coin.
    4. PR64BM PCGS. The Classics Sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2004), lot 341; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 1/2005), lot 1073; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2006), lot 3392; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 1149.
    5. Proof, Uncertified. A specimen in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, probably originally from Faran Zerbe and the Chase Manhattan Bank.(Registry values: P2)

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 7348)

    Weight: 26.73 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2014
    4th-8th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,067

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