Enabling legislation: As earlier, plus Act of February 28, 1878
Designer: George T. Morgan
Weight and composition: 412.5 grains; .900 silver, .100 copper
Melt-down (silver value) in year minted: $0.823
Dies prepared: Obverse: 10; Reverse: 10
Business strike mintage: 228,000; Delivery figures by month: January: 100,000; February: 100,000; March: July: none; August: 28,000; September-December: none.
Specimens sent to the Assay Commission: 114 Estimated quantity melted: Very few, perhaps 25,000 under the Pittman Act.
Approximate population MS-65 or better: 15,000 to 20,000 (URS-15)
Approximate population MS-64: 25,000 to 35,000 (URS-16)
Approximate population MS-63: 50,000 to 60,000 (URS-17)
Approximate population MS-60 to 62: 80,000 to 90,000 (URS-18)
Approximate population G-4 to AU-58: 2,000 to 4,000 (URS-13)
Availability of prooflike coins: Common. Many DMPLs have cameo contrast.
Characteristics of striking: Usually very sharply struck.
Known hoards of Mint State coins: Bags were released in the 1950s; 148,285 coins were held back from the 1962-1964 Treasury release and subsequently sold by the General Services Administration.
This low-mintage Carson City issue is the last dollar from the early era. The vast majority still exist, and in Uncirculated grade. The mint closed on November 10, 1885, not to reopen for coinage until July 1, 1889.
1885 Coins in the 1886 Report
The Annual Report of the Director oj the Mint, for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886 commented on what would have been an otherwise misleading figure for Morgan dollars credited to the year 1886:
"The Mint at Carson City was closed during the entire year, all of the coinage of 28,000 silver dollars was credited to that institution. The coinage was really executed prior to June 30, 1885, but not delivered by the coiner to the Superintendent until after July 1, 1885, which brought it into this year's statement of coinage."
The record shows that on hand on June 30, 1885 at the Carson City Mint were 3,170,308 Carson City silver dollars. 28,000 were charged to the coinage of fiscal year of 1886 (but were dated 1885, as noted above), making a total of 3,198,308 pieces. Of this number 3.1 million were transferred to storage by the United States Treasury [in the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., it turned out], leaving 98,308 on hand. Of this number, 18,072 were transferred to the United States Mint at San Francisco and 80,236 were distributed. Thus ends the story of the early Carson City coinage.
The 3.1 million pieces transferred to the Treasury for storage would play an important role in numismatic history many decades later, in the 1960s, when the majority of these coins were "discovered."
Carson City Mint Summary
The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 1886, contained a wrap-up report of activities at the Carson City Mint for the fiscal year which began on July 1, 1885 and ended on June 30, 1886:
"The value of the deposits [of bullion] at the Mint at Carson during the year amount to only $13,930.78.
"From the table of coinage it appears that the Mint at Carson coined 28,000 silver dollars. This coinage [as noted earlier] was really executed in the previous fiscal year, but not having been delivered by the coiner to the superintendent before the close of that year, was necessarily included in the coinage of the fiscal year 1885-1886.
"When operations were suspended at the Mint at Carson there were on hand in gold bullion 50,332,859 standard ounces, of the value of $936,425. 17, and 666,832.99 standard ounces of silver bullion, costing $647,968.22. The amount of gold coin on hand was $20,120, and of silver coin $20,076.42. ... [No explanation for the odd 2Â¢; the Carson City Mint made nothing smaller than dimes; perhaps some trade dollars on hand were computed at bullion value.]
"The gold and silver coins reserved from the coinage of the Mint at Carson for the calendar year 1885, forwarded to the Mint at Philadelphia for trial at the annual assay, amounted to $220 in gold and $114 in silver coin.(This would have been 114 1885-CC silver dollars. Note that the calendar year, not the fiscal year, was employed for purposes of sending coins to Philadelphia for the Assay Commission.)I After they had been tested by the annual assay commission their value was transferred to the Mint at Philadelphia, thus closing out the stock of coin and bullion on hand at the Mint at Carson.
"Owing to the difficulty in procuring silver bullion for delivery at the Mint at Carson at reasonable rates, coinage was suspended at that institution from March 1, 1879 to June 30, (Thus accounting, in part, for the low mintage of 1879-CC dollars.) and from November 1, of the same year, to May 1, 1880, and from April to October 1881.