US Coins

'Worst of the worst' Morgan dollars coming to ANA convention

Two extremely difficult to assemble numismatic collections that are the finest of their kinds in the Professional Coin Grading Service Set Registry will be displayed by PCGS for the first time in public at the upcoming American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill.

The Numismatic Americana Reference Collection of United States Assay Commission Medals and the End of the Trail VIII Collection of Morgan dollars with the lowest grade point average in the "Low Ball" registry will be exhibited at the PCGS booth during the ANA convention, which runs from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

The all-time finest registry set of historic U.S. Assay Commission medals is owned by Bill Shamhart of Numismatic Americana Inc., in New Jersey. The set has a Mint State weighted grade point average of 62.345.    

The Assay Commission was established in 1792 to supervise the annual testing of gold and silver coinage produced by the U.S. Mint to ensure that the metal content met specifications. The commission members appointed each year were private citizens including numismatists.

Medals were produced for commission members every year from 1860 through 1977, except during the Civil War years of 1862 to 1866, and also 1954. The Assay Commission was disbanded after the 1977 session as a cost-cutting move by the Carter administration.

"Most U.S. Assay medals are rare because they were only issued in very limited quantities, usually from about 50 to 200 of each,” PCGS President Don Willis said. "They were struck in various sizes ranging from 33 millimeters in diameter, a little larger than a modern half dollar, to 76 millimeters, about twice the size of a Double Eagle.”

Willis said there’s a “vast array” of interesting designs in the series.

PCGS will distribute brochures at the ANA convention about U.S. Assay Commission medals in the Numismatic Americana Reference Collection and featuring illustrations of the owner's 10 favorites. 

See the entire collection on the PCGS website.

The PCGS table at the ANA convention will also feature the lowest graded basic set of Morgan silver dollars.

"The appropriately named 'End of the Trail' Morgan dollar collection has a Poor weighted grade point average of only 1.130,” Willis said. "It is the all-time finest, or in this case, the worst-of-the-worst basic Morgan dollar set in the Low Ball category.

"While collectors have a lot of fun with the Low Ball sets, remember that it often is just as difficult and exciting to build a low grade set as it is to assemble a high grade collection."

Brochures on the Low Ball set will also be available at the convention. The brochure includes illustrations of the top 10 favorite low-grade Morgan dollar coins of the set's owner, collector Mike Hoyman of Alaska. 

Hoyman's favorite is an 1878 Morgan, 8 Tail Feathers dollar variety that is missing more than 99 percent of the obverse design, but has enough reverse design remaining to distinguish the eight feathers. It is graded PCGS Poor 1.  

PCGS authenticators were unable to determine the specific VAM variety for that coin and some others in the collection because the grades are so low. Of the 97 coins in the set, 87 of them are graded Poor (PCGS PO-1) and the other 10 are graded Fair (PCGS FR-2).

See the entire End of the Trail VIII Collection on the PCGS website.

"PCGS launched the Low Ball registry category in 2007 as a fun and challenging way for collectors to compete to see who has the lowest graded coins,” Collectors Universe Set Registry and Special Projects Director BJ Searls said. "It's much harder than you would think, but there are now 825 registered Low Ball sets of U.S. coins."

Keep up to date on Coin World news and features:

Community Comments