Carson City Morgan Dollars: A Favorite for Collectors across the Country

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For many numismatists, a Morgan silver dollar set is a must-have for their collection—and this is one of the most collected series of coins the U.S. Mint has ever produced.1878 Morgan Dollar CC obverse and reverse on transparent background

Within that series, the Morgan silver dollars minted at the legendary Carson City Mint in Nevada are highly sought after. And, there are only 13 coins in the Carson City Morgan dollar series. The exciting news? Building a Carson City Morgan dollar set is an attainable goal for most collectors.

History behind the Carson City Mint

Why are Morgan dollars with the famed “CC” mint mark so desirable? This storied western mint was in operation for a mere 21 years of remarkable Wild West history. Here’s how it all began…

In 1857, a miner named Henry Comstock laid claim to what became known as the Comstock Lode in Nevada. Prospectors struck it rich and earned massive fortunes. Word of the silver discovery spread quickly.

Nearby Carson City, Nevada grew fast as silver soon flowed out of the mine. The town was founded in 1858 and named after the iconic frontiersman: Kit Carson, a trapper, scout and guide. As more and more people flooded to the region, the need for coinage in everyday commerce skyrocketed. Demand for a second Mint in the West was strong.

At that time, Nevada was fairly isolated from the rest of the nation. And transporting raw precious metal to the San Francisco Mint was challenging. Railroads had not yet expanded to Nevada, which meant the only way to deliver gold and silver to San Francisco for processing was on horseback or a mule train. For many, that was a dangerous proposition in the rough and tumble Wild West, due to bandits and robbers on the open road.

So, only six years after Nevada became a state, the historic Carson City Mint began operations in 1870 order to process the huge amount of metal being mined in the area into sorely needed coinage.

Carson City Morgan Dollars

The Carson City Mint began producing Morgan dollars in 1878 and struck the silver dollars each year until 1885. Then, after a three year break, the Carson City Mint restarted production in 1889 and continued producing these coins until the Mint branch closed in 1893. There are a total of 13 issues highlighting the iconic “CC” Mintmark.

We list the Carson City Morgan Dollars below with their mintages.

Description Mintage

1878-CC     2,212,000

1879-CC     756,000

1880-CC     495,000

1881-CC     296,000

1882-CC     1,133,000

1883-CC     1,204,000

1884-CC     1,136,000

1885-CC     228,000

1889-CC     350,000

1890-CC     2,309,041

1891-CC     1,618,000

1892-CC     1,352,000

1893-CC     677,000

Generally speaking, Carson City Morgans were struck at low volumes. In total, the Carson City Mint produced only 13.7 million Morgan silver dollars.

To understand how truly low that number is, compare it to the amount of Morgans struck at the Denver Mint in 1921 alone – a whopping 20.3 million—in just one year!

If you want to build a Carson City Morgan dollar set, it’s worth knowing that the key date is the 1889-CC. The rarity of this coin stems from its incredibly low survivorship rather than its mintage.

Two other issues stand out in terms of mintage: the 1881-CC and 1885-CC, with low mintages of only 296,000 and 228,000 coins, respectively, which are the two lowest struck from Carson City.

The GSA Hoard

For collectors today, it is still possible to locate these coins as a large percentage survived in uncirculated condition through the “GSA Hoard.”

In case you aren’t familiar with this event, during the 1960s, the U.S. Treasury discovered bags of over 2.8 million Morgan Dollars, over 95% of which were minted at Carson City! In 1970, Congress directed the Treasury to transfer the coins to the General Services Administration in order to publicly sell the coins.

The GSA packaged the Carson City Morgan dollars in hard cover holders that said, “CARSON CITY UNCIRCULATED SILVER DOLLAR.” Each coin was sold with a certificate of authenticity that stated:

“This historic coin is a valuable memento of an era in American history when pioneers were challenging the West. The silver in this dollar was mined from the rich Comstock Lode, discovered in the mountains near Carson City, Nevada.”

Today, the surviving examples from the GSA Hoard that are still in their original hard cases are considered the most desirable of all.

George T. Morgan Designed the Beloved Silver Dollar

It’s easy to see why the Morgan dollar is beloved among numismatists. The large, nearly palm-sized heavy silver dollar is a joy to hold in your hand. George T. Morgan, an engraver at the Mint, designed the silver dollar.

The Carson City Morgan dollar features Lady Liberty’s head on the obverse. The reverse displays a stunning eagle. Morgan chose to depict Liberty as an American woman, rather than the typical Greek-style figures, and he used nature studies of the bald eagle to inspire him with his eagle design.

Carson City Morgan silver dollars represent a tantalizing combination of rarity and exciting Wild West history. Are you interested in building a Carson City Morgan silver dollar set? Even if you don’t see coins available for sale on our site, Blanchard has deep reach and connections within the numismatic community and are often able to source even hard to find coins. Give us a call and get started today!

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