At Carson City: 1884 represented the last full year of operation of the Carson City Mint during the early (1870-1885) period.
Commentary: The 1884-CC Morgan dollar was considered to be a prime rarity until the 1930s. Selected early auction realizations include $5.25 for a VG coin in 1912, $7.00 for a coin in the same grade sold in 1915, and $11.00 for an Uncirculated piece that crossed the auction block in 1919. Prices never were consistent for this or any other branch mint Morgan dollar, and an anomalous realization of just $1.85 for a VF coin in 1915 must be mentioned.
Hoard coins: The 1884-CC Morgan dollar is one of the most remarkable coins in the annals of silver dollar history. The original production amounted to 1,136,000 pieces. Of that number, 962,638, amounting to 84.7% of the original mintage, were still in the hands of the Treasury Department after March 1964, when a halt was called to the great Treasury release that began in October 1962. Earlier, in 1938, bags of this date were also released, and during the 1950s the Cash Room at the Treasury Department paid out a further steady stream of 1,000-coin bags. Dealer Steve Ruddel stated that about 50 bags (50,000 coins) were released from the Treasury Building in 1955.
The total number of Uncirculated 1884-CC dollars in existence is not known with precision, but it is undoubtedly over a million. No wonder that circulated coins are rare!
Circulated grades: As relatively few coins were placed into the channels of commerce in the nineteenth century, circulated coins are quite scarce today. Probably, only 5,000 to 10,000 survive. In 1925, numismatist E.S. Thresher reported that despite searching since 1919, he had not been able to find an example in circulation; one of just eight coins absent from his Morgan dollar collection (the others were 1885-CC, 1889-S, 1892, 1893-S, 1894, 1897, and 1899). Most of the 159,000 coins sold by the General Services Administration as "scratched or circulated" would grade today as MS-60; these coins were taken from mint-sealed bags.
Mint State grades: The 1884-CC is very common in Mint State. In fact, it is the most common of all Carson City dollars in this regard. Probably a million or more exist (see above). Most are in the range of MS-60 through MS-63, however, many MS-64s remain, and MS-65 coins are not rare.
Population estimates follow: MS-60 to 62, 550,000 to 600,000; MS-63, 350,000 to 400,000; MS-63, 110,000 to 125,000; and MS-65 or better, 30,000 to 40,000. The typical specimen is well struck and very frosty. Lower-grade coins have many bagmarks.
Prooflike coins: Many semi-prooflike and full prooflike coins exist, simply because even a small proportion of these among Mint State coins results in a large number of coins, due to the immense quantities of Mint State pieces involved. Most prooflike examples are cameo with frosted devices and are very attractive, especially in higher grade levels. Some have the aura around the head of Miss Liberty described under 1882-CC.
Probably, upward of 25,000 PL and about the same number ofDMPL specimens exist. About 15% of each category remain in MS-65 or higher grade. In PL and DMPL finish, 1884-CC is the second most common Carson City Mint dollar (1883-CC is the most plentiful).
Proofs: Walter H. Breen states that four Proofs are rumored to exist and notes that one was offered in the David Akers-Rarcoa auction held in Chicago in 1991. Another is mentioned in Breen's Proof coin Encyclopedia, p. 238, and, apparently, was owned by Arthur M. Kagin in the 1970s, tracing its earlier pedigree to the Brock and University of Pennsylvania collections, then to B. Max Mehl's sale of the Rovensky Collection, November 30, 1954, Lot 125.
At the 1992 ANA Convention a specimen described as a Proof-65 1884-CC silver dollar, not seen by the author, was offered for $30,000. It was accompanied by a letter from Walter Breen dated May 10, 1991, noting in part:
It has every appearance of being an authentic intentional brilliant Proof striking of the 1884-CC silver dollar, from polished dies on a specially polished blank [and is] one of possibly four seen to date. The others: from the Brock-Rovensky Collections,Kagin Collection, and Dunigan Collection are similar in quality, though no opportunity has become available for direct comparison of dies.
Earliest record, S.H. & H. Chapman sale, June 11, 1889, of a then high $4, where only one other was believed to exist, that in the Atwater sale (Mehl, June 11, 1940), at $15, and those advertised by Wm. Pukall (The Numismatist 2/47) and by Wm. & L. Pukall (The Numismatist, 10/53) were probably DMPLs.
1. Normal date: Breen-5580. Probably not all 10 pairs of dies shipped to Carson City were used. At least five varieties are known with partly repunched date, one of them (VAM-5) also has repunched CC. No die variety commands a premium over a regular 1884-CC.