Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Check Main Components of GSA Dollars

​Increasingly in online auctions Morgan silver dollars, offered in the 1970s via Government Services Administration and otherwise known as GSA dollars, are being sold on Proxibid and eBay.

They are a popular item as most hobbyists hope to have at least one in a collection. Thus, they are seldom good buys as bidding typically is strong. (More on that in a later post.)

Each GSA dollar should come with three main components: a box, a certificate of authenticity, and the coin. Let's talk about each.

The black box often is damaged. Auctioneers love stickers, and when they put them on the GSA box, they often are there for good. If you try to remove them, you may tear the flimsy black paper covering the cardboard box. That decreases the value, because the box also contains a greeting from President Richard Nixon on the inside cover. Also, the lid to the box should not be detached, but often is, again lowering price.

The COA has serial numbers in blue. The first two numbers should match the year. Click the photo above and you will see the first two numbers are 85, matching the seller's description, for an 1885-CC dollar. Many sellers and buyers do not know this. You can easily find mismatched COAs and coins like this one selling on eBay. Be careful when bidding on these. Not all GSA dollars were high mint state. Those with significant bag marks had an additional card about condition. Some sellers send in their GSA coins for grading, keep the box and the COA, and replace the high-grade coin with the low-grade one, oblivious that the serial numbers do not match. Of course, sometimes the COAs are simply misplaced by sellers with several GSA coins.

The coin itself is in a plastic holder. Not all GSA dollars are from Carson City. The label on the plastic holder must state that. If the photographs allow, check the holder for cracks, which also lessens value.

The major slabbing companies holder GSA dollars. For a long time, PCGS simply put the term GSA on the label. In 2013, the company started holdering them in large plastic slabs that do not fit in the GSA box. You may like that, but I prefer NGC labels on my GSA dollars because the original holder still fits in the box.

A few other GSA tidbits:

1. The GSA also sold soft packs of dollars, like this one graded by NGC. These are highly collectible and go for premiums above the coin's value inside.

2. You can find GSA dollars in original sealed boxes, like this one. Keep in mind "sealed" does not mean "unopened." Hobbyists have all manner of ways to open boxes. That said, I usually take sellers at their word.

3. See this informative website for more information on GSA dollars including mintages of Carson City ones.

Finally, do not overbid on GSA dollars. They are plentiful. Take time to assess each component as described here. If photos are lacking, email or message the seller about the condition of the box, holder or COA. And remember, you are buying the coin, not the packaging.

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1 comment
Every Morgan Dollar collector I know has at least one of these GSA sets in their collection. They are beautiful and are an important part of the history of Morgan Dollars. Be mindful, however, that the GSA cases will always be the “odd man out” of your collection unless you exclusively collect GSA Morgans because GSA cases do not fit into any of the traditional boxes or frames for housing non-GSA collections. The same goes for the Morgan Dollars from the Redfield Hoard that are often found in Paramount holders. If your personal preference is for order and consistency in storing and displaying your Morgan Dollars, these can add a wrinkle to the challenge.