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The 1885-CC Morgan Dollar

Randy Clifton

As far as national events go, 1885 was a quiet year. Some noteworthy events that happened were on February 18th, when the literary classic "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain was first published. On February 21st President Chester A. Arthur dedicated the Washington Monument. On March 4th Grover Cleveland succeeded Chester A. Arthur as President of the United States. On July 23rd, President U. S. Grant lost his final battle, dying of cancer at age 63. 1885 was also the year that President Cleveland signed off on the first closure of the Carson City Mint. Some coins were produced prior to that closure however, including the 1885 Morgan Dollar.

The Carson City Morgan Dollar of 1885 is a rather unusual coin. First consider the fact of its mintage of only 228,000. Excluding the 1895 Philadelphia minted Morgan of which the 12,000 business strikes were melted down by the government and none are known to exist, the 1885-CC Morgan has the third lowest mintage of the entire Morgan dollar series. Only the 1893 San Francisco with a mintage of 100,000 and the 1894 Philadelphia with a mintage of 110,000 business strikes had lower totals.

In the GSA mail bid sales of 1972-1974, 148,285 uncirculated examples of the 1885-CC dollar were offered with the minimum bid of $60.00. All but 31,569 were sold at that time; the remaining coins were sold in 1980. The 148,285 uncirculated coins that were offered in those sales account for nearly two thirds of the total mintage, meaning that the majority of the survivors are in uncirculated condition. Circulated examples are therefore quite rare, making it a bit challenging for collectors who are interested in building a circulated set. It is estimated that there are fewer than 7,000 examples in grades below MS-60. The famous Redfield hoard is said to have as many as 1,000 1885-CC Morgan’s making it the sixth scarcest Redfield date.

The strikes are generally full although there are some that are weakly struck in the hair above the ear. It is found with exceptional eye appeal with both frosty and proof-like surfaces, but many examples can also be very "baggy" with lots of obvious contact marks. There are about four die varieties, with the so-called VAM-4 or “thick dash under 8” variety being the only one that commands any premium.

The price spread between circulated Very Fine and the lowest grade of uncirculated, MS-60, is not that wide. Very Fine examples retail at around $490 and MS-60 at about $620. So for that little bit of extra cash, collectors are more apt to spend their money on a MS-60 examples than the lower grades. However the lower-grade pieces are much harder to find.

Approximate retail prices for various grades as of January 2024 are as follows: Good-4: $600, Very Good-8: $625, Fine-12: $635, Very Fine-20: $660, Extremely Fine-40: $725, About Uncirculated-50: $740, and Mint State-60: $800. If you are looking for a place to invest a few hundred dollars, you might enjoy a nice example of the 1885-CC Morgan Dollar.

The example pictured below is graded MS-64 by NGC.

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