For better than 100 years numismatic sources had mentioned a mintage for the 1895 Morgan dollar of 12,000 pieces struck for circulation along with 880 Proofs of the date. In fact, up to and including the 2008 edition of the Red Book, the mintage was “carved in stone” in the venerable pages of that valuable reference as 12,000 pieces. Though many have searched for many years, no 1895 circulation strike Morgan dollar has ever surfaced. Examples with removed mintmark or even circulated Proofs of the date have surfaced from time to time, but no 1895 Morgan dollar made for intended circulation exists. One popular legend has it the entire mintage went down to the bottom of the briny deep in a shipping catastrophe!
Enter the Proof-only 1895 Morgan dollar! Just 880 pieces were struck in the Proof format, and current wisdom today suggests about 650 or so pieces are still extant. The Gem Proof 1895 Morgan dollar that highlights our May New Orleans ANA event is from a New England College collection that is well represented within the pages of the New Orleans ANA catalog. Many rarities and numerous coins of outstanding quality are referenced as part of the New England Museum Collection throughout the catalog’s pages, all of them fresh to the numismatic marketplace. That the collection housed an 1895 Morgan dollar for many decades speaks highly of the benefactor who left the marvelous collection to the Museum.
Called the “King of Morgan dollars” for good reason, the 1895 Proof-only Morgan is typically the last date added to a Morgan dollar collection – on those rare occasions when the date is even included in a collection. While several dates in the series are more highly priced than the 1895 issue, none are more highly prized. The New England Museum Collection specimen is boldly struck, as should be expected, and is vividly toned in varied shades of rose, golden tan, and electric blue. The fact that PCGS has awarded the coin the coveted “+” designation speaks volumes about the coin and its overall quality; CAC has also weighed in on the piece and given it its “green bean” sticker of approval.
When great collections of Morgan dollars are discussed, talk always turns to the quality of the 1895 Proof-only issue contained within – or to its “missing in action” status in the collection. A mark of distinction, the 1895 Morgan dollar is a sign that a collection has “arrived” at a status missed by many of the great collections owing to a lack of the date. If there is a glaring hole in your current Morgan dollar collection where a Proof-only 1895 belongs, then our upcoming New Orleans ANA auction event may just be the venue that completes your collection. The piece is new to the numismatic marketplace and never shuffled from collection to collection as so often happens with rarities today and is notice enough that you won’t be alone in your bidding.