US Coins

Market Analysis: Moser collection of Morgan silver dollars

On April 24 at the Central States Numismatic Society’s convention, Heritage Auctions presented the Mark Moser Collection of Morgan dollars, which is the No. 1 ranked set of Morgan dollars in the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Registry program. 

The set — with each coin offered as a single lot — brought $1,574,837. 

The 105 dollars in the collection included around a dozen pieces tied as the finest-graded by NGC. The catalog quotes the collector who described his attraction to the series, writing, “I always liked the weight and the size of the Morgan dollars.” He added, “I continually kept upgrading and upgrading as I went along, always trying to obtain the finest,” whether it was a $1,000 coin or a $250,000 coin.

1893-S dollar, MS-65, $329,000

The obvious star of the collection is the key-date 1893-S Morgan dollar graded Mint State 65. 

Despite records at NGC and Professional Coin Grading Service showing seven submissions at the MS-65 level, after subtracting duplicate entries where the same coin was resubmitted to grading services, Heritage believes the true population of MS-65 survivors in this rare issue is just four or five examples.

This one has fully brilliant silver-white luster, with “a faint champagne tint with satiny fields and frosty devices.” 

It has recently appeared at auction, but brought more in 2014 than its last two trips to the auctioneer’s podium. In 2009 it brought $299,000 at Heritage’s Florida United Numismatists auction and was offered at last year’s Central States sale where it realized $258,500.

1889 dollar, MS-66, $881.25

In nearly every great collection that has an extensive scope — including the collection of Louis E. Eliasberg Sr., who owned several of the coins in the Moser Collection — there’s a reasonably priced coin to be found. 

Such is the case with this 1889 Morgan dollar in MS-66 that sold for $881.25. Unlike the 1893-S dollar, the 1889 Morgan dollar is common in nearly all grades approaching MS-65, and its huge mintage of 21,726,000 pieces is the largest in the series until the design was resurrected for 1921. 

But high mintages don’t always mean high survival rates in top grades. Just five examples are graded finer than MS-66 by either PCGS or NGC. Several hundred MS-66 examples are graded by both firms, satisfying demand and keeping prices relatively reasonable at this grade level. 

For reference, at Heritage’s April 26, 2013, CSNS auction, the firm sold a different 1889 dollar, graded MS-67 for $14,100. Several PCGS MS-66+ examples have been offered at auction over the past few years, generally bringing between $4,000 and $6,000.

1881-CC dollar, MS-68, $28,200

Carson City Mint Morgan silver dollars are always popular with collectors, and in nearly-perfect grades like MS-68 they’re also incredibly rare. 

This 1881-CC Morgan dollar in MS-68 brought $28,200 and is an exceptional representative of an issue that generally “comes nice.”

A substantial percentage of the original low mintage of 296,000 pieces rested for decades in U.S. Treasury vaults where they remained in Mint State condition. As a result, one is more likely to find a Mint State example of this issue than a circulated one. 

In MS-68 it is a rarity, with just eight coins certified in this grade by PCGS and NGC with none graded finer. It is described by Heritage as “essentially flawless” with “brilliant, frost-white surfaces” that “emit waves of silver luster.”

NGC has graded more than 100 examples MS-67 and, also on April 24, Heritage sold an 1881-CC NGC MS-67 dollar for $3,127.50 and an NGC MS-67+ example of the issue with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker representing quality within the grade for $7,050.

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