Controversial Gem 1893-CC Branch Mint Proof Dollar1893-CC $1 PR65 ★ NGC. This is a very interesting coin that requires quite a bit more attention and research than the average silver dollar. What is in doubt here is the very nature of the coin itself. NGC has certified this piece as a branch mint proof. We respectfully disagree with their conclusion. In 1995 we sold the Anita Maxwell Collection of branch mint proof Morgan dollars, and used that collection as an opportunity to write a detailed analysis of each of the coins and the diagnostic markers that would appear on any other coin that might be considered as a branch mint proof in the future. There are seven obverse and two reverse diagnostics that we found on the Anita Maxwell coin, and since then we have offered three other pieces for sale at auction and each has had all the diagnostics we saw on the Anita Maxwell piece. None of these characteristics are visible on this coin, which leads us to the conclusion that either, a) two sets of obverse and reverse dies were used to strike branch mint proof 1893-CC dollars, or b) this coin is actually a business strike with Deep Mirror Prooflike fields. While not unprecedented (consider the 1864-L proof cent) we consider it highly unlikely that two sets of dies were used to strike a limited production run of twelve proofs.
If we conclude then that this coin is actually a business strike, what are the consequences? When one examines auction appearances over the past ten years, the number of DMPL 1893-CC dollars certified, and the value of both branch mint proof and high grade DMPL dollars, one comes to the surprising conclusion that an MS65 DMPL 1893-CC dollar would actually be worth more than a Gem branch mint proof example, and it is many times rarer. The most recent auction records we have for branch mint proofs of this date are from 2001 and 2002. The prices realized range from $34,500 to $63,250 (both of which were PR63). Only one MS65 DMPL has been certified (an NGC coin) and it sold at auction in January 2000 for $37,500. What is such a coin worth today? CDN currently lists it at $70,000 with a Trends value of $90,000. However, with none available there is no incentive to raise CDN or Trends values as these prices are basically hypothetical with only one coin certified, and it is off the market and in strong hands. The only missing pricing element in this analysis is what a Gem Proof 1893-CC is worth, and we have no reliable figures for such a coin in public auction. However, we do note that five Gem pieces have been certified by both NGC and PCGS combined, with another three in higher grades. Clearly, high grade DMPL 1893-CC dollars are rarer than high grade branch mint proofs, and with the huge collector base for business strike Morgan dollars vs. the much more esoteric branch mint proof collector base, the upside potential for an MS65 DMPL is much greater than for a branch mint proof.
The coin itself does display deeply reflective, mirrored fields on each side. The striking definition is strong throughout, but not quite strong enough to completely stamp out several light roller marks over the ear of Liberty. The coin basically presents as untoned, but when closely examined one notices that there is just the slightest hint of golden-brown patina present over most of each side. The margins are ringed by thin, deep bands of russet and cobalt-blue toning. A couple of minor contact marks are seen on each side, and there are faint die striations in the field behind the head of Liberty. All in all, an upper-end Gem coin, as indicated by the NGC grade, and as the star designation suggests this coin would undoubtedly be the finest DMPL coin known were it to be so graded. (#7347) (Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 27ZP, PCGS# 7347)
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