Investing in gold: Rare Carson City coins can cost a pretty penny
It still is thought impossible to complete a set of Carson City dollars in GSA holders since the 1892-CC is still unknown in a GSA holder, the 1893-CC that is known is suspect as to whether it is authentic, and there is only one 1889-CC known. So regardless of price, completing a true set of Carson City GSA’s may be out of anybody’s reach.
A complete set to most of the collecting world is 1878-1885-CC plus the 1890-CC and 1891-CC. MS65 or higher Carson City dollars command hefty premiums. In GSA holders the prices of those same coins can bring multiples as most of the nicest coins were broken out of GSA’s and certified with the advent of grading services in the 1980s.
In my last article I addressed how the Carson City GSA dollars got their nickname (being from the treasury hoard and packaged for retail by the Government Services Administration) and how some of the Carson City dollars had a large percentage of their mintage saved in this hoard. In this article I will address pricing on the first two years of Carson City GSA dollars.
The 1878-CC had a mintage of 2,212,000 coins but only 60,993 coins were found in the GSA hoard. When the GSA employees packaged the dollars they were instructed to put only bright white coins in holders that said Uncirculated. If the coins did not meet this criteria they were to be packaged in the hard plastic GSA cases, but not to be labeled Uncirculated. But, many of the 1878-CC’s were packaged in a soft plastic envelope and not in hard GSA packs, cutting their availability even further for GSA collectors.
This was the only year the GSA did that and afterward the Carson City dollars were generally only packaged in the hard cases. A low grade BU (Uncirculated) 1878-CC will run about $200, but in a GSA it will run closer to $500. A certified MS65 runs about $1,500, but in a GSA sells for over $4,000.
The key to the set is the 1879-CC GSA, and only 4,123 coins were found in the GSA hoard. The 1879-CC is always one of the most sought-after dates of Carson City dollars as many of the coins originally minted went into circulation.
Not having large numbers in the GSA hoard, this date has remained one of the more expensive coins in any Carson City set. There are two types of mint-marks for the 1879 creating a subset of collecting if one wishes to pursue the set even farther. A BU 1879-CC will cost $3,000 and up and in the GSA packaging they run $6,000 and up. A MS65 sells for about $30,000, but really soars in a GSA, commanding about $50,000.
As you can see collecting Carson City dollars can be expensive. Most people do not collect in top level grades, but even so endeavoring to complete a set in Uncirculated can challenge the pocket book. And just to be fair, one can obtain a complete collection of Carson City dollars for about $1,500 if they are willing to buy lower grade circulated coins.
• Allen Rowe is the owner of Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.