For decades after the final Morgan Dollars were struck for circulation, vast quantities remained in storage at United States Treasury vaults across the country. These silver dollars were available to be paid out at face value to anyone who requested them. More than 100 million Morgan Dollars were paid out in this fashion, including the release of previously rare dates such as the 1903-O Morgan Dollar, which saw its value plunge.
On March 26, 1964, the Secretary of the Treasury called a halt to the payout of silver dollars. The remaining quantity of nearly three million Morgan Dollars would eventually be distributed by the Government Services Administration (GSA) through a series of mail bid auctions. The majority of the GSA Morgan Dollars (Buy on eBay) were from the Carson City Mint, with most in uncirculated condition. In some cases, the GSA holdings represented a substantial portion of the original mintage for a particular issue.
A breakdown of the inventory reveals the following quantities of Carson City Morgan Dollars 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 silver dollars were sorted by date, mint mark, and condition. Coins which were from the Carson City Mint or in uncirculated condition were placed in sealed plastic cases with an outer display box and paper insert explaining the historical significance of the coins. Circulated coins were sealed in cellophane packs and placed in envelopes.
A series of five mail bid sales were conducted between October 31, 1972 and June 30, 1974. Two additional sales were 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. Complete population data can be viewed using the latest NGC Census Data.