1895-O $1 MS65

CERTIFICATION#: 13664098
PCGS#: 7236

Owner's Comments

We are thrilled to include this gem 1895-O dollar from the Norweb Collection in the Sunnywood set. The '95-O is a key date in the Morgan dollar series, and is notoriously difficult in higher mint state grades. It is the only date in the series that was not represented in any of the Treasury releases. No bags of 1895-O dollars were ever found in bank vault storage. Fewer than a dozen gems exist, and the real number may be smaller still. Of these, we know of only three that are still in undipped original condition, saved at or near the time of original issue: the present Norweb coin, the Eliasberg coin, and a deeply toned example from an original match-toned 1895-O Mint set owned by David Akers and later placed in Charles Lamborn's fabulous "Fairfield Collection". Happily, the Norweb coin features attractive toning, a good strike for the date, ample luster and great eye appeal. Purchased by Albert Fairchild Holden from J.W. Scott & Co., October 26, 1908, as part of a group of "O" mint dollars including the 1893-O, and 1895-O through 1898-O (J.W. Scott had apparently ordered each of these directly from the New Orleans Mint in the year of issue); to his daughter Emery May Holden Norweb; to her son R. Henry Norweb, Jr.; auctioned by Bowers & Merena, The Norweb Collection Part III (11/15/88:3892). Later part of the Michael Casper Collection; thence to the Arno Collection; Heritage, 2009 FUN (1/9/09:5037); to the Sunnywood Collection.

Expert Comments

Ron Guth: The 1895-O Silver Dollars is one of the most difficult of the series to find in nice condition.  The quantity of truly Mint State 1895-O Dollars is very low.  This statement becomes clear on examining the PCGS Population Report.  As of October 2012, PCGS had certified approximately equal quantities of 1894-S, 1895-O, and 1896-O Dollars -- between 4,000 and 5,000 each.  Any suggestions of similarities between these dates is demolished when one examines the Mint State columns, where PCGS shows the following -- for the 1894-S, PCGS shows nearly 3,000 MS examples; for the 1896-O, nearly 1,300; for the 1895-O, a mere 143 examples. 

Prooflike and Deep Mirror Prooflike 1895-O Dollars are very rare.

The finest 1895-O Dollar is a single PCGS MS-67, the phenomenal coin once owned by Silver Dollar specialists Wayne Miller and Jack Lee, and which realized $575,000 way back in 2005.

 

Q. David Bowers: The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993)

Coinage Context

Striking quality: During this period, the coiners at the New Orleans Mint had a job to do: to coin as many silver dollars as possible in the least amount of time. To say that their workmanship was shoddy would be an understatement; from a numismatic viewpoint, it was terrible. Knowing that most of these silver dollars were not wanted in the channels of commerce and would simply go into bulk storage after they were minted, the workers had little incentive to create an attractive product. To churn out a stream of Morgan dollars with as little attention to the presses as possible, the coiners spaced the dies slightly too far apart, thus minimizing die wear and breakage. The result was as stated: terrible-looking coins. Not that this extended die life; if all five die pairs were used, they averaged only 90,000 coins per obverse. If only the three VAM obverses were used, the figure is 150,000-still very low.

While most 1895-O dollars went into storage and were melted later, probably well over 100,000 were placed into circulation.
Numismatic Information

Market notes: Around the year 1900 there was a sudden enthusiasm for 1894-O, 1894-S, 1895-O, and 1895-S silver dollars, and a few specimens were sold for several dollars apiece. The interest soon faded, and Uncirculated pieces could be obtained for less than $2 apiece. From that time until the 1940s, few Mint State coins appeared on the market. Even the most famous collections were apt to contain worn pieces.

Around the 1950s, a small number of Mint State coins were released from storage in the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. Probably from a few dozen to a couple of hundred went into the hands of dealers and collectors. Market information is difficult to obtain today, for listings of "Uncirculated" coins years ago were apt to represent what we would call AU today. This was the era of "sliders." Harry J. Forman, who has handled as many O-Mint dollars as anyone, never heard of a quantity of true Mint State 1895-O dollars. Apparently, no 1895-O dollars were represented in the Treasury release of 1962-1964.

Circulated grades: Circulated coins are slightly scarce today. Most are in lower grade levels. AU coins or "sliders" are often seen on the market, and in the years before certified coins were often sold as "Uncirculated." John Highfill reported purchasing an 1895-O dollar certified as MS-63/65 by ANACS in 1980, and sending it to PCGS and NGC in 1989 and having both services grade it AU-55, a commentary on the changing grading scene. Wayne Miller wrote that in his experience, high grade AU coins are often more attractive than low grade Mint State coins.

Mint State grades: Most 1895-O dollars are poorly struck and have unattractive surfaces. In lower Mint State levels from MS-60 to MS-63, this is the rarest New Orleans Mint dollar today. In higher Mint State levels it is also very rare.

The rarity and importance of the 1895-O in Mint State cannot be overemphasized. As a dealer I know full well that only rarely does a specialized collection of Morgan dollars contain a specimen in any Uncirculated grade. Over the years, the 1895-O has received very little publicity, as virtually no one has had a vested interest (i.e., inventory).
Prooflike coins: Prooflike coins are very rare, and only a few DMPL coins exist.

Varieties

1. Normal date: Possibly not all five pairs of dies were used. The VAM text describes three obverses and two reverses. These could have made the whole mintage.

Dies prepared: Obverse: 5; Reverse: 5

Estimated quantity melted: Well over 100,000.

Circulation strike mintage: 450,000; Delivery figures by month: January: 200,000; February: 100,000; March: none; April: 100,000; May: 50,000; June-December: none.

Availability of prooflike coins: Prooflike coins are very rare, and DMPL coins are even more so. Nearly all are in lower grades.

Characteristics of striking: Mostly are weakly struck at centers and have unattractive surfaces.

Known hoards of Mint State coins: None. Apparently, no significant quantities were released by the Treasury in the 1950s or 1960s.

Commentary

In Mint State the 1895-O dollar is very rare. When found, specimens are usually poorly struck with unattractive surfaces.

Diameter: 38.10 millimeters Designer: George T. Morgan Edge: Reeded
Mintage: 450,000 Weight: 26.73 grams Metal Content: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
45+
695
2
50+
1,050
53+
1,550
55+
2,850
58+
7,500
62+
29,000
2
63+
57,500
1
64+
99,000
65+
245,000
1
66
375,000
1
66+
425,000
67
575,000
1

Rarity and Survival Estimates

Grades Survival Estimate Numismatic Rarity Relative Rarity by Type Relative Rarity by Series
All Grades 37,493 R-2.6 22 / 117 TIE 22 / 117 TIE
60 or Better 718 R-5.5 6 / 117 6 / 117
65 or Better 18 R-9.2 11 / 117 TIE 11 / 117 TIE

Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS67 PCGS grade  

Wayne Miller Collection, acquired 1/1975 for $5,500 - Superior 1/1986:1310 - Jack Lee Collection - Heritage 11/2005:2324, $575,000

2 MS66 PCGS grade  
3 MS65 PCGS grade Sanderson Family Collection - Heritage 1/2009:5036, $126,500 - Heritage 8/2012:5210, $164,500
3 MS65 PCGS grade

J.W. Scott & Co., sold privately on 10/26/1908 - Albert Fairchild Holden - Norweb Collection - Bowers & Merena 11/1988:3892, $22,000 - Michael Casper Collection - Arno Collection - Heritage 1/2009:5037, $126,500 - Sunnywood/Simpson Collection -  Legend 10/2014:194, $258,500

3 MS65 PCGS grade

Bowers & Merena 9/2004:1187, $149,500