Last weekend, GreatCollections offered collectors of Morgan silver dollars the opportunity to acquire an extremely high-grade conditional rarity. This 1885 dollar not only earned an MS 66+ grade and a green CAC sticker but it also boasts the Deep Mirror Prooflike (DPML) designation. Collectors should note that there are only 36 other comparable examples, with 11 graded higher (MS 67 DMPL). Only a few examples in this condition coming to auction per year. When bidding ended on Sunday, January 8, 2022, the highest of 39 bids stood at $6,500 USD.
As the Philadelphia Mint struck 17,787,000 circulation finish Morgan dollars in 1885, this issue has always been known as quite common. Compounding this is the fact that the 1885 Morgan was well represented in a number of United States Treasury Department releases. In 1954, the Treasury dispersed a number of examples to the numismatic community. These were followed by additional releases between 1962 and 1964. Numismatic author Q. David Bowers states that these releases make the 1885 the most common pre-1921 Morgan dollar after the 1886 and 1887 to have survived in Mint State condition.
This ease of accessibility extends up until the very highest grades, with even many low MS PL and DMPL grades being relatively easy to acquire. Nevertheless, the total number of certified examples surviving as MS 66+ DMPL or above in the combined PCGS and NGC populations are most likely resubmissions and double counts, which means that there are very few surviving examples known.
This particular example, nearly on par with the best-known pieces, boasts spectacular blast white untoned devices and deeply reflective fields. With an above-average strike, there are no noticeable weak spots. Additionally, this piece has virtually no contact bag marks to mar its surfaces. Auction records show that it was sold previously in November 2019 for $2,160 (about $2,515 adjusted for inflation). However, prices have increased significantly in the past four years, with MS 66+ examples selling for $5,000 and above and MS 67s for $8,000 or more.
The central bust of Lady Liberty wears a Phrygian cap encircled with a ribbon adorned with the inscription LIBERTY. Miss Liberty also wears a crown of wheat and cotton, which were two of the nation’s most lucrative natural agricultural assets in the 19th century.
The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is inscribed along the upper half of the obverse rim, and the date 1885 is centered at the bottom of the obverse adjacent to the rim. Seven stars appear between the left side of the date and the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM, while six stars fill the gap between the date and motto on the lower right side of the coin. In total, the 13 stars symbolize the 13 colonies that combined to form the original Union of the United States. At the base of Liberty’s neck is the “M” monogram representing the initial of the coin’s designer George T. Morgan.
The reverse is dominated by a heraldic eagle, its wings spread across the upper half of the coin. Between the upper tips of the eagle’s wings appears the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The eagle clutches an olive branch in its right claw representing peace and in its left claw are three arrows symbolizing the nation’s ability to defend itself. The central eagle design is partly encircled by a laurel wreath.
Along the rim of the upper two-thirds of the reverse is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The words ONE DOLLAR are seen at the bottom center of the reverse. As this coin was struck by the Philadelphia mint, there is no mint mark.
The edge of the 1885 Morgan dollar is reeded.
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