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NumisMedia Monthly


Our monthly article
detailing specific areas
of numismatics for dealers,
collectors, and investors
of United States Rare Coins

October 2017

Morgan Dollars & Standing Liberty Quarters:
Their Time is Near

     Collectors and dealers are always looking for the right time to buy coins. Some buy into a hot market looking for quick profits while others wait until the cycle moves down to buy the coins they need. We are currently in the downside of the cycle and it appears that buyers are trying to take advantage of lower values. However, there are many coins that have not been discounted over the last few years and they are simply too rare and too difficult to acquire.

     Dealers are always looking for coins that have potential for future increases. The difference is that over the last few months they have not been very aggressive. Dealers are now focusing more on coins that are rare by mintage, low population for the grade, low availability, and/or have exceptional eye appeal. Even in this down cycle, rare coins are still in demand.

     The Morgan Dollar market is always one of the most active, and with many current levels at new lows, dealers and collectors are making deals. We have reported an abundance of adjustments in both directions over the last few months but what is not highlighted is the number of coins that are steady at today’s prices. This market is improving and some of the downward movements are related to higher valued coins that seem to be on more sell lists than buy lists. This is an efficient way to improve cash flow for dealers but makes the market look weaker than it may be. The following short list of Morgan Dollars is only a fraction of the dates and grades that may be good buys at today’s levels.

1892 O Morgan Dollar MS65 NGC

1892 O Morgan Dollar MS65 NGC is available at Stack’s Bowers Galleries Whitman Baltimore Expo Auction in Baltimore, Maryland, November 8-10, 2017

     The 1879 O Morgan Dollar in MS66 has a current FMV of $19,940 with 31 coins certified in this grade; there are five with the CAC sticker and only three grading higher in MS66+ by PCGS. This is a very tough coin to find with exceptional eye appeal; it is crucial to stick with the upper end for the grade and let the borderline coins go to the bargain hunters. This coin has dropped since the first of the year, but only by 3.3%. Knowledgeable dealers are well aware of the potential for this coin.

     The 1884 S Morgan Dollar is a well-known rarity in all Mint State grades. Anything above MS63 is rarely encountered and will usually command well above the then current FMV when sold. There are only 29 coins total in grades MS64 and above with a single MS68 certified (the FMV for the MS68 is at $937,500). Since the first of the year, the MS63 has fallen 10.3% which is more of an effect of the overall market. This MS63 grade has actually advanced $16,250 since January of 2012 and is a coin that typically trades at current levels or above. With fewer than 100 coins certified in MS63 finding a high-end coin will be a challenge; there are four MS63+ coins certified by PCGS.

     The 1886 O Morgan Dollar in MS64 is another New Orleans Mint coin that is popular but hard to find priced at current levels without some distractions. This coin has dropped 6.3% since the first of the year with a current FMV of $12,310. Its recent high point was in January of 2015 at $13,440. There are 309 coins certified in MS64 and 38 of those are CAC, so there are some nice coins out there. There are 25 coins in MS64+ with two in MS65 and another in MS65+, the highest certified for this date. With an FMV of $200,000, the MS65s are basically unreachable for a majority of collectors.

     The 1892 O Morgan Dollar is thought of as rare in MS65 and above, but the number of coins certified in MS65 seems excessive at 318. However, this coin is known for having a large number of Mint State coins that are very weakly struck. While eye appeal can be a determining factor in these coins attaining an MS65 grade, you may still want to stay away from those that are more flatly struck. This date in MS65 has dropped 23.1% since the first of the year and currently has an FMV of $4,470. With 17 coins having the + designation, there may be an opportunity for buyers to locate one of the higher end MS65s for their collection. There are nine coins certified in MS66 with an FMV of $52,980 but we have not seen one trade for a very long time. There is only one coin grading higher and it is a PCGS MS67 CAC.

     Another series that has a popular following, both in circulated and Mint State grades, is the Standing Liberty Quarter. The mint marked early dates are the most difficult to find at current levels, especially those from 1918 through 1924. Even more challenging are the same dates in Full Head. Dealers have increased their efforts but are still unable to locate enough Standing Liberty Quarters that have above average eye appeal.

1918 D Standing Liberty Quarter Full Head MS67 PCGS

1918 D Standing Liberty Quarter Full Head MS67 PCGS sold for $40,800 at the Heritage Auctions Long Beach Expo U.S. Coins Signature Auction in Long Beach, California, September 7-10, 2017

     The 1924 S Standing Liberty Quarter in MS67 has a higher FMV by just 4.1% since the beginning of the year at $9,000. However, this date has a rather low population with 10 coins in MS67 and just two higher, an MS67+ and an MS68. The MS67 reached a high of $9,460 in 2011. At that time the MS66 had an FMV of $3,060 but is currently at $4,160. Even though there are 54 coins certified in MS66, there is plenty of demand for this grade with the FMV price up nearly 5% on the year.

     Since the beginning of the year, the 1927 S Standing Liberty Quarter in MS67 has increased by 17.9% to the current FMV of $32,180. This is a very tough date with just eight coins certified in this grade and two more with the + designation. The MS67 had an FMV of $26,650 in early 2012 and we have noted two different coins sold at auction earlier in the year; one at $28,200 and the other $43,475. The MS66 has 55 total coins certified but has remained relatively unchanged since 2010 with only a few fluctuations from $15,810 to the current FMV of $16,250.

     Collecting Standing Liberty Quarters with Full Head in high grades can be a formidable task. Since January, the 1918 D Full Head in MS67 is up by 17.8%, now at $33,130; there are only two coins certified, both by PCGS, with none higher. The most recent sale for this date was at the Long Beach show in early September, selling for $40,800. The MS66 is not a coin to ignore, with just 33 coins certified, gaining $2,750 since 2011 with a current FMV of $11,690.

     The FMV for the 1923 S Full Head in MS66 is up 19.2% at $14,380. However, the MS67 has remained unchanged most likely due to a lack of any on the market. The last MS67 recorded trade was at least two years ago. There are just 57 Full Head coins certified MS66 and 10 of those are CAC approved. There are an additional 15 coins in MS67 with two of those having the + designation. This is a better date and very tough to find with a Full Head in these upper grades.

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