eBay Coin Auctions Continue To Surprise as some GSA Morgan Silver Dollars Soar

By Steve Roach
First published in the June 20, 2011, issue of Coin World

Sometimes, the kind of holder that a coin is in can have a dramatic impact on its price. Every once in a while collectors go crazy for a coin on eBay.

That happened on May 29 as 13 bidders placed 39 bids for a lot described as a “Unique 1880-O Non-CC GSA Hardpack Morgan Dollar.” The coin sold for $13,113, with three bidders bidding above the $10,000 level. (Images courtesy of Bryan Sonnier).

Many silver dollars — typically from the Carson City Mint — were released by the General Services Administration in the 1970s. The coins, housed in black hard plastic (hardpack) or soft plastic (softpack) holders once generally traded for little premiums.

That changed when Numismatic Guaranty Corp. began grading GSA Morgan dollars submitted to NGC in their original black holders, with NGC placing the coin’s grade on a label that goes outside the black holder.

The seller of the 1880-O Morgan dollar, Bryan Sonnier of Carson City Collectibles, has been collecting and studying Carson City GSA Morgan dollars for more than 20 years. He wrote in an email that he was very confident that likely no other 1880-O Morgan Dollars in the GSA black holders exist.

While he estimated before the auction that it would realize $7,500 to $10,000, he was surprised by the five-figure result.

On May 22, Sonnier offered a GSA 1882-O Morgan dollar in a GSA “hardpack” holder that realized $6,600.69 with 49 bids from 10 different bidders. However, that coin was not unique, as NGC had already graded one in a GSA holder.

Not all non-CC hardpack GSA Morgan dollars achieve crazy prices. In a May 25 eBay auction, Sonnier offered a Mint State 1884-O Morgan dollar in a GSA hardpack that realized $243.50 — still far more than the $50 that this coin would typically sell for as a Mint State Morgan dollar.

Rarely, the odd GSA coin pops up, such as a circulated 1864 Seated Liberty dollar in a GSA “softpack” that realized $10,301 on April 24 with 51 bids. The coin had a long history and the lot included associated memorabilia.

Another type of black holder also gets attention when it is offered. In late 2010, a 1924 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle in a Mint State 62 NGC “Black” slab — one of the firm’s earliest slabs — sold for $3,805 while recently certified NGC MS-62 examples were trading at $1,600.

Steve Roach is a Dallas, Texas, based rare coin appraiser and fine art advisor who writes the world’s most widely read rare coin market analysis each week in the pages of Coin World. He is also a lawyer and helps create estate plans for collections. Visit him online at http://www.steveroachonline.com, join him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenroach or follow him on twitter @roachdotsteve

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