Prooflike Morgan Dollars…And Update!
By David Hall
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article written by David Hall on prooflike Morgan Dollars appeared in the October 1977 Monthly Summary of the Coin Dealer Newsletter (CDN). It’s an excellent commentary on the state of the prooflike market 20 years ago. It allows us to analyze how standards have changed, while rarity for the most part has not. Special thanks to David Hall and the Coin Dealer Newsletter for allowing us to reprint this article for our NSDR readers.
Any average roll of 1883-O’s will now fetch at least $140 – and very soon any nice full MS-65 “common date” should easily be worth $10. During these past few months, the though O-mints, elusive Philadelphia and San Francisco issues – along with even the very available CA great deal has happened since the original article on prooflike Morgan dollars appeared in the May ’77 issue of the MONTHLY SUMMARY. If at that time the silver dollar market could have been described as “red hot,” it can how accurately be called “pure white heat!” arson City issues – have all fared as well (if not better) than the common dates.
While the BU dollar market can be described as “white hot,” the prooflike dollar has become almost total madness! Collectors and dealers scour bourse tables like sharks in a feeding frenzy – buying anything that even approaches a prooflike specimen. In the various trade papers, dealers advertise scar and rare prooflike dates at what appear to be extremely high prices – only to receive as many as twenty or thirty orders for the one and only piece in stock! In light of this incredible demand, prices for choice prooflike Morgans have increased substantially – to say the least – during the past six months.
Just what is a prooflike dollar? A prooflike specimen is one of the first impressions from a new die that – because of a combination of super strike, superior planchet and new dies – has mirror finish fields. The fields are reflective, and you will often see a potential buyer holding a pen or pencil sever inches away from a coin to ascertain just how much of a mirror effect the particular piece exhibits. In the past, collecting prooflike dollars was a highly specialized area – pursued by only a handful of sophisticated and knowledgeable collectors. But now the prooflike dollar has gained widespread appeal – and there simply aren’t enough choice pieces to go around!
This recent unprecedented demand has pushed prices for prooflikes substantially ahead of levels which six months ago seemed only in the realm of a “long term” possibility! At present, there is virtually no price resistance in the easily affordable “under $100 per coin” category; in my opinion, a price tag of $50 for any truly choice MS-65 prooflike Morgan is a very likely possibility for the relatively near future!
The following are current conservative wholesale price ranges for full deep mirror surface MS-65 Morgans. Inferior coins sell at considerably reduced prices – and superb MS-65+ “wonder coins” can bring many multiples of the prices listed!
|$15 to $20:||1879-S, 1880-S, 1881-S, 1883-O, 1884-O, 1885-P, 1885-O, 1886-P, 187-P, 1904-O.
These ten coins can still be called “common” in prooflike condition. However, the incredible demand for prooflike Morgans could quickly move these dates into the “elusive” category. Six months to a year ago, these coins were readily available for $10 to $12; they are now hard to buy at $15!
|$20 to $30:||1878-S, 1881-O, 1882-O, 1882-S, 1896-P, 1898-P, 1898-O, 1899-O, 1900-P, 1901-O, 1902-O.
The first four dates in this group are the most common. The remaining dates are somewhat more elusive – with the 1901-O being the toughest of the group.
|$30 to $50:||1878-7TF, 1878-8TF, 1878-CC, 1882-CC, 1883-CC, 1884-CC, 1888-P, 1888-O, 1889-P, 1897-P, 1900-O, 1921-P.
Both the 1878-7tf and the 1878-8tf along with the Carson City issues are relatively easy to acquire in prooflike condition. Two to three years ago, rolls of prooflike 1888-O’s were often available; now even this date is becoming one of the scarcest of the “common” dates – with occasional dealer-to-dealer sales recorded over $50!
|$50 to $75:||1879-P, 1979-O, 1880-P, 1881-P, 1882-P, 1883-P, 1903-P.
The early P-mints have long been recognized as prooflike rarities – and they still have a bright future!
|$75 – $100:||1878-7/8TF, 1880-O, 1884-P, 1887-O, 1887-S, 1890-P, 1890-O, 1890-S, 1891-S, 1897-S, 1899-P, 1903-O.
Actually, with the exception of the 1884-P and the 1890-P, none of the other coins in this group are particularly scarce in choice prooflike condition – but all now often chance hands within this price range.
|$90 to $125:||1880-CC, 1881-CC, 1885-CC, 1890-CC, 1891-CC.
The 1881-CC and 1885-CC are the most common in this group; the 1890-CC is by far the scarcest.
|$100 to $150:||1889-S, 1891-P, 1902-P, 1921-D.
The 1889-S is the most easily located coin in this group; the other three are genuinely scarce.
|$175 to $250:||1885-S, 1886-S, 1888-S, 1898-S.
The 1885-S is very underrated. There are many “one-sided” prooflikes – but they are worth only a small premium over MS-65 “bid.” Two-sided deep mirror surface prooflikes are truly scarce. The 1886-S, 1888-S and 1898-S are scarce as dates (in mint state) but are not particularly tough in prooflike condition.
|$250 to $350:||1892-CC, 1899-S 1900-S.
The 1892-CC is not rare in prooflike – and most S-mints before 1900 are not particularly scare in prooflike (the 1899-S is no exception). All S-mints after 1899 are extremely tough in prooflike and the 1900-S again, is no exception – it is a genuinely underrated date.
|$300 to $400:||1889-O, 1892-P, 1894-S.
The 1894-S is occasionally available in prooflike at a modest premium over MS-65 “bid.” The 1892-P is seen in prooflike – but quite infrequently; it was a solid $200 wholesale coin three years ago and is now moving ahead with the entire prooflike dollar market. I have witnessed several sales between dealers of truly superb pieces in the $500 to $800 range! The 1889-O is currently heading most MS-65 want lists. The incredible demand for fully struck frosty pieces has made prooflikes an “overnight rarity.” This date could be selling for over $1000 within a year, if not sooner!
|$400 to $500:||1883-S, 1902-S.
Both of these dates are rare and still somewhat underrated. You will see about fifty prooflike 1889-O dollars for every 1883-S or 1902-S you encounter!
|$500 to $1000:||1893-P, 1896-S, 1901-S, 1921-S.
The 1893-P is truly rare! The 1896-S is also rare – in fact, the 1896-S is quite underrated in MS-65 condition, (being one of the few dollars that has not increased in price during the past couple of years.) The 1901-S is a true “sleeper” in prooflike condition; I have never seen a fully prooflike MS-65 specimen. The 1921-S is an incredible rarity in full prooflike condition. There are supposedly two known – though I have not personally seen either coins. Semi-prooflikes that are more the owner’s “imagination” than prooflikes have been fetching $100 or more!
|$1000 to $1500:||1879-CC, 1886-O, 1891-O, 1893-CC, 1897-O, 1904-P, 1904-S.
The 1879-CC and 1893-CC are scarce as dates in mint state; full prooflikes are worth a modest premium over MS-65 values. The three O-mints in the group are very rare! – with the 1891-O probably being the rarest of the three. The 1904-P may not exist in full prooflike condition. The 1904-S is also a major rarity with choice prooflike surfaces. A deeply-toned prooflike “possible branch mint proof” realized over $3000 at a recent auction!
|$1500 to $2000:||1894-O, 1895-S, 1896-O.
The 1895-S is very rare as a date in choice MS-65 condition – but prooflikes are not relatively rare. The 1894-O and 1896-O are “super rare” – with a prooflike MS-65 specimen appearing o the market only once every four or five years.
|$2000 to $3000 plus:||1892-O, 1893-O, 1894-P, 1903-S.
Both of the O-mints are virtually impossible to locate! I have seen two fully prooflike 1892-O’s – both were sold within the past year in the price range. I have never seen a prooflike MS-65 1893-O – but I would sure like to. Again, the 1894-P and 1903-S may not exist in deep mirror prooflike condition. If ever offered at auction, they would surely bring a “runaway” price!
Rare in all grades and very much a part of most major dealers’ “want lists” in frosty MS-65 condition. However, this date is not relatively rare as a prooflike. You won’t see many MS-65 1889-CC dollars – but about one in every three will be prooflike.
|$5000 plus:||1884-S, 1895-O, 1901-P.
The 1884-S is a major rarity in frosty MS-65 condition. Its existence in prooflike is doubtful, although I have recently examined a nice “one-sided” prooflike piece. The rarity of the 1895-O – frosty or prooflike – has long been recognized. I have heard a rumor that there is a prooflike on the East Coast – the asking price: $12,500!!! The 1901-P is a “monster” in prooflike condition. Like the 1921-S; its entire mintage was so poorly struck that its existence in prooflike condition is a miracle. The famous “Bruce Todd” specimen (full deep mirror fields but with a minor but noticeable cut on the hair) recently changed hands between dealers for $5000! (There is supposedly one other known prooflike.)
This issue falls into the same category as the 1889-CC – except change “one in three” to “one in ten”!
This date is extremely rare in true Mint State (MS-60) condition – with a choice MS-65 example appearing perhaps once every year or two. I have recently examined a choice semi-prooflike which is as close to the real thing as I’ve ever seen. (I have not seen nor heard of a true deep mirror prooflike.) If one were ever auctioned, it would definitely set a record price. However, since the coin is extremely rare in MS-65 (MS-65 “bid is $27,500.00), I don’t think it could possibly bring any multiple premium; a price of $30,000 to $50,000 seems “reasonable”!