GSA Hoard of Morgan Dollars

Over the years, various hoards of coins have captured the attention of the collecting community and the public alike. The idea of finding a large cache of old coins can be intriguing to many, but the GSA hoard of Morgan Dollars may be the most famous of all.

As the government discontinued the practice of exchanging “silver certificate” dollar bills for silver dollars upon demand in the 1960s, the Treasury was left with large numbers of uncirculated silver dollars. Unbeknownst to most people at the time, roughly 3,000,000 of these coins remained in government hands. Not only was the quantity amazing, but the vast majority of these coins were minted at the storied Carson City Mint, and enormous quantities had survived in brilliant uncirculated condition!

Perfect 70PPQ $1 Silver CertificatePerfect 70PPQ $1 Silver Certificate

Faced with a treasure trove of coins remaining in government vaults that were no longer just dollars and now had significant collectible value, the government decided to enlist the Government Services Administration, or GSA, to auction these pieces directly to the collecting public. The GSA organized and sorted the coins into different categories, with “Uncirculated Carson City” being the most typical group that we today picture when we think of the so-called “GSA Dollars” from this cache. The coins were then packaged into hard plastic (or sometimes soft plastic) holders, placed in outer cardboard boxes or envelopes, and made available to the public for the first time.

1881-CC Morgan Dollar, MS67 Carson City1881-CC Morgan Dollar, MS67 | Fully Struck

A series of auctions was held between 1973, 1974, 1979, and 1980. Coins that were once considered to be scarce were now available in quantity for the first time, and excitement among collectors ensued as they tried to bid to acquire pieces of interest for their collection. The coins were distributed to winning bidders, and millions of coins entered the marketplace to collectors and dealers.

Years later, the lore surrounding the GSA Dollars and the Carson City Mint remains. Prices have increased over time for these popular pieces, and many of today’s collectors specifically seek coins that remain in their original GSA packaging. While many of these coins have been removed from their holders over time, those that remain in the GSA holders carry a collectible premium.

1883-CC GSA Silver Dollar MS66 Deep Mirror Prooflike

1883-CC GSA Silver Dollar | MS66 Deep Mirror Prooflike

As the marketing materials for the GSA hoard so aptly explained, “This historic coin is a valuable memento of an era in American history when pioneers were challenging the West. The silver in this dollar was mined from the rich Comstock Lode, discovered in the mountains near Carson City, Nevada.” Originating from mines in the West, continuing to government vaults, and ending up in the collector’s vault, the intrigue and history of the GSA hoard continues to fascinate even today.

There will be a chance to add a GSA CC Morgan Dollar to your collection in our upcoming Coins Auction on October 11-15, 2018. Visit our U.S. Coins department to look through auction archives and a list of future auctions.

Posted by Sarah Miller

Director of Numismatics, New York

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