By Bullion Shark LLC ……
Recently, two important and unique United States Mint error coins – a very rare off-center Carson City Morgan silver dollar that had disappeared for almost 50 years and the only known double-denomination mule error pairing a Sacagawea dollar obverse with a South Carolina State quarter reverse – have been in the news.
The Carson City dollar is one of a very small number of error coins within the Morgan dollar series, especially when it comes to off-center coins that are also known as “snakes”. This particular coin is an 1882-CC silver dollar that was struck 15% off-center and was sold in the famous GSA Sales of silver dollars from 1972 to 1980.
It is also the furthest off-center CC Morgan dollar known and the only example that is housed in one of those black GSA holders that collectors love, which almost always sell for more than CC dollars that may have once been part of the GSA Sales that were removed from their GSA holders. That is because if they are not in GSA holders, then there is no way to know what their provenance is – which means that a rare error coin like this one is even more special with that provenance.
Off-center coins are arguably the most dramatic and most popular type of error coin other than mules (especially of two different coin types). They are created when planchets are not properly positioned between dies. That results in part of the design being missing.
Because the coin is so rare and unique among U.S. error coins, it was called the “Grand Snake” by U.S. Mint technicians after it was discovered when millions of Morgan dollars that had been stored in canvas bags in the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. for decades had been held back for sale by Treasury officials in the 1960s.
Treasury officials at the time were well aware that Carson City dollars have some of the lowest mintages of the Morgan dollar series and are widely sought because of the history and allure of the Carson City Mint, the famous Comstock Lode silver discovery nearby, and the allure of the “Old West”.
The GSA Sales of Carson City dollars were a series of seven public auctions; initial minimum bids were set at $30 per coin. In some cases, buyers were purchasing lots in which they did not know which CC dollars were included, meaning they could receive a more common coin like the 1882-CC, the 1883-CC, or the 1884-CC dollar; a better date like the always-popular first-year-of-issue 1878-CC; or even, in one case, an 1879-CC dollar that happens to be the only one that exists in a GSA holder.
The same was true of the small number of error CC dollars, with buyers unaware they would be sent those coins when they bid on them. In fact, the coin in question was purchased for $30 on January 31, 1973 by an Oregon collector named Tom Reneke, who was soon offered $2,000 by a leading error coin specialist. When he received it, it came with a note from the Mint indicating that the coin was a mint error and was therefore more valuable than other coins. This is believed to have been the first time the Mint sold an error coin to the public at a profit.
He decided to keep the coin at the time but later sold it, most likely to an Oregon dealer. It was later resold to a collector who kept it in his collection for 20-30 years until it was acquired by famous Morgan dollar collector Jack Kelly. The coin remained there until earlier this year when it was sold to the current owner, who is anonymous.
It was then submitted to NGC for grading and authentication, where it received a grade of MS65 and was placed inside an oversized holder while still in the GSA holder rather than having a band with the grade wrapped around it, as many graded GSA coins have.
So now the whereabouts of this unique Morgan dollar error coin are no longer a mystery, and the owner has provided pictures, which until now were not available of this coin.
The second error coin that was in the news in recent weeks is a 2000-D Sacagawea dollar obverse that is aired with a South Carolina state quarter reverse, which was recently graded and authenticated by PCGS, who gave the coin a grade of MS64. This is the first time this error has been graded.
This rare double-denomination mule error coin was also examined by an error coin specialist, who confirmed it was struck on a dollar coin press because of the correct weight of 8.1 grams and the correct diameter of 26.5 millimeters with a plain edge.
In addition, because the diameter of a quarter dollar is smaller than that of a dollar coin, the coin clearly has a double rim that corresponds to the two different diameters of the coins.
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Gilkes, Paul. “Dollar-quarter mule certified”, Coin World. June 27, 2022