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    1895 Morgan Dollar, PR64 Cameo
    Only 880 Proof Examples Struck
    No Business Strikes Produced

    1895 $1 PR64 Cameo PCGS. CAC. It happened 116 years ago: The June 1898 issue of The Numismatist included an article by George W. Rice, titled "Die Varieties of Current United States Standard Dollars." Q. David Bowers notes the article in his third edition of the Morgan dollar Guide Book, calling Rice's contribution "the first in-depth article on Morgan dollar die varieties."
    Bowers mentions that Rice, in addition to describing some basic differences among various Morgan dollar obverses and reverses, made another lasting contribution: "Significantly, Rice in 1898 stated forthrightly, with no 'perhaps' or 'maybe,' that in 1895 only Proofs had been struck."

    Despite all the research since -- the theories and countertheories, the conjectures concerning the mention of the 12,000 Morgan dollar business strikes for 1895 -- the fact that an apparent expert on the series stated conclusively only three years later, without waffling, caveats, or qualifiers, that no 1895 business strikes were struck should carry considerable weight.

    Even though Pete Smith's American Numismatic Biographies carries no information on Rice, Bowers gives us more in a footnote at the back of the book:

    "George W. Rice today is an unsung hero of numismatic research. He was among the first collectors to take an interest in mintmarked silver coins, joining such figures as W.M. Friesner, John M. Clapp, Edward Goldschmidt, and, of course Augustus G. Heaton. In The Numismatist, February 1895, his article 'Restrikes of U.S. Half Cents' was published--then an arcane topic that was confusing to even the most experienced dealers. An article in the October 1897 issue of the same magazine, 'The Unexplained Rarity of Certain U.S. Coins,' stated that a certain cent reverse die was used in its perfect state with an obverse dated 1803, but in its cracked or later state with an obverse dated 1802. 'It will thus be seen that it would be possible to have a large coinage recorded without a piece being struck bearing a corresponding date; and the recorded coinage of cents for 1799 may have been largely from dies of 1798 or 1800, and that of 1804 may have been dated 1803 or 1805, or perhaps both.' Such comments were unusual for the era. His other contributions were numerous and valuable. In the meantime, he enjoyed hoarding 1856 Flying Eagle cents and amassed hundreds of them. In 1918 he died at the age of 66."

    Given Bowers' biographical snapshot of him, Rice comes across as a studied and thoughtful numismatist. He was certainly an expert on proof coins of the 19th century, as his collection included an unbroken run of silver and minor proof sets from 1859-1896 when it was sold through the St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co. in April of 1906. Lots 931 and 932 of the catalog of that sale were both six-piece 1895 proof sets. Concerning the 1895 "business strike" Morgan dollars, Occam's Razor seems to apply. The simplest explanation is the best. No examples have ever been seen, because none were made.

    The present coin is an undoubted proof, with sharply detailed frosty design elements that contrast boldly with the deeply mirrored fields to produce a dramatic cameo effect. The mostly brilliant surfaces show a few hints of pale gold toning and only minor signs of contact. Eye appeal is tremendous. Population: 33 in 64 Cameo, 26 finer (10/14).(Registry values: N7079)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 27ZR, PCGS# 87330)

    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
    November, 2014
    6th-10th Thursday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,381

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