US Coins

Citizen Bold Collection featured in Heritage sale

Two New Orleans Mint condition rarities are standouts in the Citizen Bold collection: these 1886-O and 1896-O Morgan silver dollars each grade MS-65.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

One of the standout consignments at Heritage’s June 13 Premier Session auction is the Citizen Bold collection, which includes nearly 50 high-grade Morgan silver dollars.

One of the top lots is bound to be its rare Uncirculated 1893-S Morgan dollar, graded Mint State 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service.

Only 100,000 were minted, and owning any example is something to bring a collector pride — but fewer than 100 are known in Mint State grades.

Heritage wrote on the subject offering, “The lightly marked surfaces show subtle highlights of sea-green, jade-gray, lavender-gray, and amber toning, with satiny luster underneath,” adding, “A circle of brilliant white surrounds star 2 and some minor roller marks on Liberty’s neck can serve as a pedigree marker.”

The last MS-63 at auction brought $444,000 at Heritage’s January Platinum Night session. That example was nearly brilliant, with strong luster and a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker.

One must travel back to 2019 to find another similar typical MS-63 example, graded by Numismatic Guaranty Co., which sold for $210,000.

New Orleans Mint rarities

The collection includes some coveted New Orleans Mint issues that are common in lower grades but rare in top grades, like an 1886-O Morgan dollar graded MS-65 by PCGS that is one of six in this grade, bested only by one in MS-65+ and one graded MS-67 Deep Mirror Prooflike. Despite a mintage of 10,710,000, the issue was poorly produced. Heritage explains, “The dies were often spaced too far apart, in order to reduce die wear during the enormous press runs, and many survivors are softly struck in consequence,” while, “insipid mint luster and excessive surface marks also plague this issue.”

The offed dollar is a treasured exception, with a bold strike and few marks. Perhaps most notably, there is vibrant mint luster on both sides and exceptional overall eye appeal. Heritage sold two comparably graded examples in 2022 for $168,000 and $156,000.

The 1896-O dollar is another famed condition rarity in top Mint State grades, although it is little more than a common date in well-worn states of preservation. The few Uncirculated bags of the issue were handled roughly, with the resulting coins rarely found nicer than MS-63. Further, collecting by Mint mark was not yet widely popular in the mid-1890s, so collectors saved few at the time.

Like the 1886-O issue, the typical 1896-O dollar has a weak strike and dull luster. In contrast, the offered example has vibrant luster, few contact marks and terrific eye appeal. It is one of three graded MS-65 at NGC, with none finer, while PCGS has graded only one in MS-65, with two finer. One has to go back more than a decade to find a comparable at auction, when an NGC MS-65 example sold for $94,000.

Coveted Proof Morgan $1s

The Citizen Bold collection also has a few Proof issues, including an always-popular 1895 Morgan dollar graded Proof 65 Cameo by NGC with a green CAC sticker. The issue is popular as the “King of Morgan dollars” and this one is especially attractive, “enhanced by vivid shades of sea-green and cerulean-blue peripheral toning, with mostly brilliant centers and deeply reflective fields underneath.”

Heritage’s cataloger also praises the richly frosted devices and deeply mirrored fields, recognized by the Cameo designation. The 1895 Proof silver dollar is famous because of the absence of business strikes that year at the Philadelphia Mint. When offered at Stack’s Bowers in 2021, this coin sold for $84,000 and its cataloger described the unique color as follows: “Richly toned surfaces exhibit peripheral color of steel-blue that passes to antique-copper before giving way to silver-tinged brilliance in the centers.”

While the 1895 Proof Morgan dollar is universally loved, the 1921 Proof Morgan silver dollars are more complex, as they lack some of the traditional attributes of the 1878 to 1904 Proof dollars. The collection offers a 1921 “Chapman Proof” silver dollar graded Proof 65 at PCGS that is one of three in this grade with only two finer.

Dealer Henry Chapman requested that perhaps 30 1921 Morgan dollars be produced at the Philadelphia Mint that could be presented as Proofs, though grading service population reports suggest a higher number. Heritage writes, “Acceptance of the 1921 Chapman proofs has increased exponentially over the past 20 years,” and beyond the flashy overall appearance, there are several die markers. Heritage cites specifically: “a short line from the rim points to the third star, light die scratches above the first T in STATES, and a die line in the field between the wreath and right star.” When offered at Heritage’s August 2020 Platinum Night session, it sold for $75,000.

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