US Coins

Top 1893-S dollar brings series record $2,086,875

The finest-known 1893-S Morgan dollar sold for $2,086,875 at an August 29 GreatCollections sale, setting a record for the online auctioneer and for any Morgan silver dollar at auction.

All images courtesy of GreatCollections

An 1893-S Morgan dollar graded Mint State 67 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green CAC sticker set a record for the series at auction when it realized $2,086,875 at an Aug. 29 GreatCollections auction.

The price also set a record for any coin offered at the online auctioneer, according to the firm’s president Ian Russell, who said after the auction that the listing enjoyed over 16,000 page views and 327 unique visitors tracked it, another record for the site.

The cataloger called it the “Ultimate Morgan silver dollar,” explaining, “When you first see the coin in-hand, you don’t even consider it could be an 1893-S, due to the superior quality and eye appeal, not to mention the pristine fields and strong strike. We picture the coin being struck by a careful Mint employee in San Francisco and handled with cotton gloves from that point forward.”

It is widely considered the finest-known survivor of the key date after its introduction to the marketplace in Stack’s November 2001 auction of the collection of Cornelius Vermeule III, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and author of Numismatic Art in America.

That Stack’s cataloger stated, “It is a challenge to adequately describe the gorgeous appearance of this coin. If we employed all the superlatives necessary to do justice to its magnificent colors and surfaces, we might be criticized for saying too much.”

There it was sold uncertified and graded by Stack’s as Superb Gem Brilliant Uncirculated, bringing $414,000.

It was later offered at Legend Rare Coin Auctions in October 2017 where it went unsold on an estimate of $1.3 million to $1.5 million. It had been purchased by its then-consignor from Legend via a private treaty sale in October 2008 for a price “in excess of $1,000,000” according to Legend, and was later offered privately with an asking price of $2 million.

At one time, another 1893-S Morgan dollar known as the Norweb example was considered a peer. It realized $357,500 at the Bowers and Merena 1988 auction of the Norweb Collection, Part III. It was subsequently “dipped” and was sold in a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. MS-67 slab at a 2011 Heritage auction for $546,250.

Of that coin, Heritage wrote in 2011, “This piece has brilliant surfaces throughout, unlike its 1988 appearance in the Norweb sale, indicating that the coin has been conserved since that time.” As Legend observed, “the originality of the coin has been lost.”

The rarity of the 1893-S Morgan dollar is in large part due to an event known as the Panic of 1893, when banks failed and President Grover Cleveland took a hands-off approach to the economic downturn. 1893 saw low mintages for silver dollars at each of the mints, most notably San Francisco, and many of the 100,000 1893-S Morgan dollars were likely melted under the terms of the 1918 Pittman Act.

In the 2017 offering, Legend called it, “A true trophy for any advanced Morgan dollar collector.”

At least 22 bidders agreed at the GreatCollections auction.

Connect with Coin World:  
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Access our Dealer Directory  
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

Community Comments