Professional Coin Grading Service’s Meet the Expert sessions at the
2016 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money sure ended
with a bang.
On Aug. 13, the final day of the show, a show attendee presented
PCGS CoinFacts President Ron Guth with an impressive rarity, an
ungraded 1893-S Morgan dollar, the rarest date in the popular Morgan series.
The coin’s owner, a Los Angeles resident who wishes to remain
anonymous, discovered the coins tucked away in a wooden box in the
home of his recently deceased father. The two coins in the box were a
$20 gold piece (which, of course, he thought would be the most
valuable) and the 1893-S Morgan dollar.
He saw a TV ad for the ANA show, and decided to take both coins to
the coin show for appraisal and possible selling. Once at the show, he
approached a dealer’s table and asked what the dealer thought of both
coins. The dealer, immediately recognizing the Morgan dollar’s
significance, directed the man to the PCGS booth.
“I walked up to the PCGS booth and said, ‘Hey Ron, I have this coin,
I was told it was a pretty nice coin,’ ” the owner said. “Ron
inspected the coin and said, ‘This is a very nice coin you have; this
is the real McCoy. These rarely come by in this condition.’ ”
Soon after, the coin was authenticated by PCGS and got a grade of
AU-58 and a valuation of $53,000.
“When he said the coin is worth around $40,000, my jaw just hit the
floor like a cartoon character,” the owner said. “In my head, I had a
coin worth anywhere from $1,300 to $3,000.”
Why so rare?
Although 100,000 1893-S Morgan Dollars were minted, this particular
date is considered the most valuable due to its rarity; only an
estimated 10,000 survive in all grades today. However, the real value
of the coin lies in its high grade, AU-58 [About Uncirculated]. Before
the man had his Morgan dollar assessed and graded, there were only 12
known PCGS AU-58 examples of 1893-S $1 Morgans. This treasure find
brings the total to 13 PCGS AU58 1893-S examples.
PCGS regularly holds Meet the Expert sessions at coin shows
throughout the year. In these sessions, renowned numismatic experts
assess coins presented to them by the public, on a walk-up basis. Guth
was conducting his final Meet the Expert session of the coin show,
when one of those “rare and surreal moments” occurred.
“He [the owner of the 1893-S] thought the large gold piece was the
more valuable of the two coins,” Guth said. “When I explained that the
gold coin was only worth its melt value of around $1,300, but the
1893-S $1 was a nice AU-55, possibly AU-58, worth $40,000-plus, he was
“He immediately submitted the coin, which came back PCGS AU-58.
Discoveries as significant as this are rare, but this is why we hold
these events. One never knows what treasures are out there waiting to
The owner has decided to sell rather than keep the coin. The man,
who previously “did not even know what AU meant," said the coin
will be better off in the possession of a collector.
“Someone else will appreciate the coin, way more than I would,” he
said. “Whoever buys the coin, I think both of us will be happy.”