On March 26, 1964, the United States Treasury of the Secretary called a halt to the payout of silver dollars from Treasury vaults. For the past several years, more than one hundred million Morgan Dollars in storage since the 1920’s had been paid out at face value. This enormous release of coins had included quantities of previously rare dates like the 1903-O Morgan Dollar, which saw their prices plunge. By the time the halt was called, about $3 million worth of Morgan Dollars remained, which would eventually be distributed by the Government Services Administration (GSA) through a series of auctions.
The majority of the GSA Morgan Dollars were from the Carson City Mint with many of them in uncirculated condition. In some cases, the GSA holdings represented a substantial of the original mintage.
A breakdown of the inventory reveals the following quantities of each date.
- 1878-CC: 60,993
- 1879-CC: 4,123
- 1880-CC: 131,529
- 1881-CC: 147,485
- 1882-CC: 605,029
- 1883-CC: 755,518
- 1884-CC: 962,638
- 1885-CC: 148,285
- 1889-CC: 1
- 1890-CC: 3,949
- 1891-CC: 5,687
- 1892-CC: 1
- 1893-CC: 1
On December 31, 1970, legislation was signed which authorized the sale of the silver dollars through the General Services Administration. The coins were transported from the Treasury vaults in Washington, DC to the US Mint facility at West Point, New York. At the new location, the nearly 3 million silver dollars were sorted by date, mint mark, and condition. Coins which were from the Carson City Mint or in uncirculated condition were placed within sealed plastic cases. Circulated coins were sealed in plastic envelopes.
A series of five mail bid sales were held between October 31, 1972 and June 30, 1974. Two additional sales were eventually held in 1980 to dispose of some remaining, unsold coins.For the first series of mail bid sales, minimum bids for uncirculated coins in date categories were as follows:
- 1878-CC: $15
- 1879-CC: $300
- 1880-CC, 1881-CC, 1885-CC: $60
- 1882-CC, 1883-CC, 1884-CC, 1890-CC, 1891-CC: $30
- Mixed CC: $15
- Mixed Uncirculated: $5
- Mixed Circulated: $3
After all of the auctions were completed, the sale of the nearly 3 million Morgan Dollars had realized more than $94 million in sales.
The GSA Morgan Dollars were released in sealed plastic containers with the words “Carson City Uncirculated Silver Dollar” against a black background. The containers were placed with an outer display box and included paper insert briefly explaining the historical significance of the coins and the GSA release. Many GSA Morgan Dollars will be encountered with toning from the years spent in storage within canvas bags. Sometimes the toning can be attractive rainbow colored, which creates a premium.
Coins which originally resided the in the GSA holders, which have been submitted to coin grading services PCGS or NGC may carry the attribution “GSA”. In January 2003, NGC began grading GSA Morgan Dollars without removing them from the original GSA holders. A label containing the grade and NGC emblem was placed around the entire holder with a tamper proof seal at the top.