An Analysis of the 1900-P
by Randy Campbell, F.U.N. Chairman of the Board
Reprinted with permission from F.U.N. Topics Magazine.
Reprinted with permission from12th National Silver Dollar Convention. October 31, 1991.
One of the dates I have learned to appreciate during my numismatic career is the 1900-P Morgan Dollar. Back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, most collectors regarded this issue as “just another common date dollar.” It received little fanfare virtually no respect.
Perhaps the 1900-P was a victim of circumstance. Its immediate predecessor, the 1899-P, was a popular date because of its very low mintage (just 330,00). The date which followed the 1900-P, ___ the 1901-P, has long been regarded with awe because of its status as an ultimate rarity in Choice and Gem condition. For decades, it seemed, the 1900-P was doomed to mediocrity while “flashier” dates, like the 1899-P and 1901-P, grabbed the limelight.
But during the “glory years of the silver dollar market (the late ‘70’s through the early ‘80’s), collectors, investors and dealers began to realize that the 1900-P was not quite as common as its 8.8 million mintage would indicate.” While average BU specimens were available in quantity, top quality specimens proved to be surprisingly elusive.
The onset of certified grading, encapsulation, and population reports proved a doubt that, in high grade, the 1900-P is much more than your ordinary common date. But, do current price levels accurately reflect its rarity? Is the 1900-P still an underrated date? These and other related questions will be addressed as we take a closer look at the 1900-P Morgan Dollar.
THE MINT STATE 1900-P DOLLAR
MS-63: Recent population reports from PCGS (Nov., 1990) and NGC (Jan., 1991) indicate that 3,147 1900-P dollars have been slabbed MS-63 (the first edition of the ANACS population report, due out shortly, may add a few hundred pieces to the total.) Compare that 3,147 total to the over 22,000 1881-P dollars graded MS-63. Yes, the 1900-P is than SEVEN TIMES SCARCER than the ’81-S! Yet the current (March 22, 1991) bid price in the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter is virtually the same for each issue ($25 for the ’81-S and $27 for the 1900-P). At current prices, the MS-63 1900-P seems like a much better buy than the common “S”-mints.
MS-64: PCGS and NGC have encapsulated roughly 4,200 1900-P dollars in MS-63 (compared to about 36,000 1881-P dollars). Although the 1900-P is nearly NINE TIMES SCARCER in MS-64, it is bid basically the same price ($46 versus $34 for the ’81-S). The population of 4,200 makes the 1900-P somewhat scarcer than the 1883-CC and 1884-CC (with populations of almost 5,000 for each date in MS-64). With the CC’s bid at $108, doesn’t the 1900-P seem like a reasonable but a $46?
MS-65: With 1,156 pieces encapsulated in MS-65, the 1900-P is of about equal rarity with dates like 1902-O, 1896-P, 1903-P and 1885-CC. The 1900-P is SCARCER THAN THE 1881-CC IN MS-65, yet its current bid ($225), is less than half of the 1881-CC ($480). During the height of the 1989 bull market, the MS-65 1900-P rose to $1,040. The crash of 1990 saw this date fall precipitously to just $160, a drop of over 80 per cent! Since then, the 1900-P has recovered to its current bid of $225, still a far cry from its mid-1989 highs. At current levels, the Gem 1900-P seems like a risk worth taking for the prudent investor who buys with an eye toward relative rarity and price history.
MS-66: To date, only 38 1900-P dollars have been slabbed in MS-66 condition (compared to over 4,300 MS-66 1881-S dollars). As such, the 1900-P is, at last, a recognized rarity in superb condition, and NOT the common date it was once thought to be. The current bid of $1,700 seems low for a coin with such a small population in MS-66 condition.
THE PROOF-LIKE 1900-P DOLLAR
MS-63 AND MS-64 PROOFLIKE: 30 specimens have been graded MS-63 Prooflike (bid=$105), while 38 1900-P dollars have been slabbed MS-64 Prooflike (bid=$275). This is contrary to the conventional dollar wisdom of the 1970’s. In his An Analysis of Morgan and Peace Dollars (1976), renowned dollar expert Wayne Miller gave the Prooflike 1900-P a rarity-2 rating (1=most common; 10=scarcest). However, as the years went by, the true rarity of the 1900-P for what it is, a scarce date Prooflike. At $275 bid, the MS-64 Prooflike deserves to be in the investment portfolio of every dollar lover!
MS-65 PROOFLIKE: A miniscule 12 1900-P dollars have been certified MS-65 Prooflike (9 by PCGS, 3 by NGC and none by ANACS). One doubts if the current bid of $1,575 would be enough to pry loose a rare Gen Prooflike example of this date.
THE DEEP-MIRROR PROOF-LIKE 1900-P DOLLAR
The generally accepted standards for Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) are 4 to 6 inches minimum of clear reflectivity on both sides of the coin (2 to 4 inches Prooflikes). To the surprise of many (but not me), the 1900-P ranks as one of the supreme rarities in the Morgan Dollar series in DMPL. Similarly, NGC has graded 1 MS-63 DMPL, no 64’s, and 1 MS-65 DMPL. I am aware of ! solitary MS-63 by ANACS. Since the major grading agencies have only graded 5 coins DMPL, the current bid levels must be regarded as theoretical. To the best of my knowledge, NO DMPL 1900-P DOLLARS HAVE EVER TRADED AT ANYWHERE NEAR BID LEVELS!
Speaking of bid levels, the great coin market crash of 1990 did not negatively affect bid prices for DMPL 1900-P dollar. At the height of the 1989 bull market, the MS-64 DMPL was bid at $675. Today, it is bid at $2,505! What is its true value? Who knows? What is known, for a fact, is that the Deep Mirror Prooflike 1900-P dollar is an extremely rare coin.
The evolution of the silver dollar market continues. The encapsulated certified coin market is not even six years old. Population reports have reinforced some time honored beliefs. But these same reports have radically altered some of the popularly held myths in numismatics.
In the case of the 1900-P Morgan Dollar, the old belief that this is common date in grades MS-60 through MS-63 has been essentially sustained. In Ms-64 and MS-65, the reports reveal that the 1900-P is more than just a common date (although current bid levels don’t fully reflect this). In superb MS-66 condition, the 1900-P is now firmly established as a condition rarity, with just 38 pieces achieving MS-66 (compared to 4,300 for the ’81-S).
The traditional view that the 1900-P is a common the semi-common isuue in Prooflike condition has been laid to rest, forever! The population reports indicate that, in fact, this is one of the scarcer dates on the series in MS-63, MS-64 and MS-65 Prooflike condition. It is hard to believe that MS-64 P-L’s with a combined population of 38 coins, are bid at just $275. (Remember, the Mint State 66 1900-P, also with a population of 38 coins, is bid at $1,700, and the MS-66 1881-S, with a census of about 4,300 coins, is bid at $360.) Thus, the $275 bid for the MS-64 P-L 1900-P makes no sense at all. No doubt, wise buyers are taking advantage of this price inconsistency which is a characteristic of a market in its formative stages.
And finally, in the Deep Mirror Prooflike category, the old concepts have been shattered! The 1900-P is now known to be a supreme rarity in MS-63, MS-64, and MS-65 DMPL. Should one ever appear at a major auction, I’m sure that the price realized would raise some eyebrows.
An old friend once told me that information an opportunity go hand in hand. Certainly, this information about the 1900-P Morgan Dollar suggests several opportunities for those who believe in buying undervalued issues. Happy hunting!