Think of one coin series that spans the collecting spectrum, appealing to those new to the hobby and lifelong coin geeks alike. Odds are, you’ll conjure images of the shiniest, largest hunk of silver this side of West Point — the Morgan Dollar. Now think of the most coveted date of the series, and how rare and valuable that date is in high grade?
Give up? All right, it’s the 1893-S Morgan Dollar, the date to own in the series, and the value of these coins in high grade is a testament to that fact. But there is one example that stands alone as the world’s finest and most valuable Morgan Dollar. The Vermuele-Lee-Coronet specimen 1893-S set a record mark for Morgans in 2014, selling for $1 million. Now, three years later, the coin is slated to hit the auction block again in October 2017.
To understand why the coin is so valuable, and desirable, one only has to travel back in time to 1893, where low mintages affected all Morgans.
Silver Dollar Production Hits a Low
The year 1893, as a whole, saw little in the production of Morgan Dollars, and it all started with a president. As soon as he entered office in a depression-torn United States, President Grover Cleveland repealed the Sherman Act, resulting in a steep drop off in silver dollar production. As a result, the San Francisco Mint only produced 100,000 Morgans in 1893, the lowest mintage of business strikes for Morgan Dollars. (The 1895-P reportedly had an incredibly low mintage of 12,000, but only proofs of this date are known today.)
Due to its low mintage, the 1893-S is exceedingly rare today, especially in Mint State examples. Just an estimated 10,000 examples exist in all grades, with only 120 or so Mint State survivors, and an even lower number when it comes to MS65 and above. PCGS Founder David Hall believes there are only six or seven examples in MS65 or better. And one coin has earned a grade as high as MS67 (and that coin is the subject of this entry). Just look at the PCGS Population Report and see for yourself!
Couple the already thin mintage numbers with thinner numbers of Mint State examples, and you have what experts consider “the king of the Morgan series.”
The Coin in Question
Now, onto the fabulous Vermuele-Lee-Coronet specimen. As mentioned earlier, this example is the only one in MS67, with no coin grading higher. Displaying exceptional color, strike, surfaces and eye appeal, the Coronet coin is the unquestioned leader of the Morgan pack. The coin once belonged to famed numismatists Cornelius Vermeule and Jack Lee, before finding its way into the Coronet Collection, when it was purchased for a record-setting $1 million in 2014.
Will a more valuable Morgan ever surface? That’s hard to say, but for now, the Vermuele-Lee-Coronet specimen stands alone as the most valuable Morgan in the world.
The coin is slated to hit the auction block in October, but there is an opportunity for collectors to see it firsthand before it finds a new home; the upcoming PCGS Members Only Show in Las Vegas will feature an exclusive viewing of the coin.
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