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of United States Rare Coins

November 2013

Prooflike Morgan Dollars Ramping Up

     Since the beginning of the year many series have attracted buyers raising Fair Market Value of various dates within each series. Most noteworthy are Type 1 Twenty Dollar Gold Liberties, Seated Quarters and Halves, GSA Carson City Morgan Dollars certified by NGC, Early Gold, just to name a few. Another series that has shown a tendency to higher prices is Morgan Dollars.

     Many Morgan Dollars were struck with Prooflike surfaces, or P/L, but they are not considered proof. This has led to specialty collectors pursuing Morgan Dollars in subsets unlike any other series. Some have even deeper mirrors, or Deep Mirror Prooflike, or DMPL, with reflective surfaces that are immediately noticeable. The P/L and DMPL Morgans are among the most beautiful and noted circulation strikes and one of the most popular and collected series in U.S coinage history.

     Like most collector coins, P/L and DMPL Morgan Dollars have had their cycles. Until recently, prices for these coins adjusted according to the whims of the few market makers throughout the country. However, within the last year, the demand for these coins has increased substantially and prices have shot up at a greater percentage than they had in the past. For example, in the chart below the 1881 S Morgan Dollar has increased $19 in MS63 or 41% since January 2010. The MS63 P/L has increased 58% and the MS63 DMPL has advanced by a whopping 70%. Also listed are the current PCGS and NGC combined total populations.

1881 S Morgan DollarJanuary 2010
MS63 P/L$79$1253,543
MS63 DMPL$106$181535

What makes this interesting is the fact that the MS63 P/L FMV was only 71% higher than the regular MS63 while today the MS63 P/L is 92% higher. The MS63 DMPL had an FMV that was 34% higher than the MS63 P/L in 2010, and the current FMV is 45% higher in MS63 DMPL than the MS63 P/L. Of the total population of 106,988 certified by PCGS and NGC, 96.2% are regular business strike MS63’s. The MS63 P/L represent 3.3% of the total and the MS63 DMPL is a mere half percent.

The number of coins certified by both grading services makes it apparent why the values for the MS63 P/L and DMPL are substantially higher than the regular MS63. Further, the recent climb in percentage indicates that more collectors are venturing into these areas. When you start collecting the better dates and higher grades you will discover that the number of coins available is very small. Listed below are several P/L Morgan Dollars that have increased in FMV since January of this year.

Date/GradeJanuary 2013
% Increase
1880 MS64 P/L$325$42530.77%
1881 MS63 P/L$125$16935%
1884 S MS61 P/L$9,810$11,56017.84%
1886 MS63 P/L$125$15020%
1887 O MS64 P/L$750$84012%
1889 CC MS64 P/L$66,880$96,88044.86%
1891 S MS63 P/L$250$35040%
1893 CC MS62 P/L$6,160$6,6908.6%
1900 MS64 P/L$200$25025%

     There are many more dates and grades that show like results; some are seemingly common coins in P/L MS61 and MS62. The lower grades were ignored for so long they did not move in conjunction with the higher grades that buyers demand most. Many of these coins were undervalued and the higher grades have such low populations, the lower graded issues are only now receiving their just recognition. It is obvious to many dealers that activity has increased immensely in this market.

     Even more fascinating to the Prooflike and Deep Mirror Prooflike specialist is the eye appeal aspect of these coins. Superior eye appeal can add a tremendous amount of value to a Prooflike Morgan, just as it can for any coin. For example in a recent Heritage Galleries auction there were two 1891 S MS65 P/L Morgan Dollars certified by PCGS. One of them brought $1,886 and the other sold for $2,585. The first was a very nice coin with good contrast but the fields were a little cloudy; the second was brilliant with better luster and contrast than the first and it also carried the CAC sticker showing that they felt the coin had greater attributes. In this case the nicer coin brought 37% more money. And there are only 39 coins certified in MS65 with just 2 in MS66. There are thousands of similar examples and in some cases the premium is quite extraordinary.

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