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All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Cillecting"

The Phantom Silver Dollars Of 1895

By Tom Delorey – Harlan J Berk Ltd.

The Morgan Dollar has long been one of the most popular American coin series, apparently second only to the Lincoln cent in the number of people who collect it in some manner, and the 1895-P dollar has long been called “The King of Morgan Dollars.”

1895 Morgan DollarHowever, for an equally long time it has been one of the more frustrating series to the collector who seeks completeness in his sets, as no numismatist has ever been able to fill the 1895-P hole in his Whitman album or Capital plastic holder with a genuine business strike specimen, despite a reported mintage of exactly 12,000 coins.

Wealthy collectors have usually been able to fill that hole with one of the 880 Proofs struck in that year, always available at a healthy price several times what a Proof from a “common” year would bring, and I have even seen a few sets where an 1895-P gold Double Eagle rattled about the dollar-sized hole.

Perhaps a hundred of the Proofs are currently known in various circulated conditions at slightly more reasonable prices, having been spent over the years by hard-up collectors during the Great Depression, children buying candy without their Father’s knowledge and garden-variety thieves, and it is not impossible that another fifty or so have been permanently lost due to lengthy circulation and/or melting. Many hundreds of 1895-O&S dollars also exist with their mint marks removed, though most of those so altered were mutilated many years ago before the branch mint coins of this year became expensive, (in part because so many of them were altered!)

Conventional wisdom has long held that the 12,000 business strikes must have been melted down in accordance with the Pittman Act of 1918, when the U.S. government reduced some 270,000,000 silver dollars to bar form and shipped the bars to India. There the British government, bankrupted by the war in Europe but desperately in need of the war materiels provided by its colonial empire, converted the silver into Rupees to pay the workers producing these goods. It is hard to say if the colonial subjects would have felt enough loyalty to a foreign monarch to have continued to work for free, but the monarch probably slept better knowing he did not have to test this loyalty. (more…)