The Government Services Administration Hoard

GSA Morgan Dollars have been a prized part of numismatists’ collections for several years now. Often known as the ‘GSA Hoard’ named after the Government Services Administration, the branch of the government that was in charge of dispersing the coins.

Carson_City_Mint_(1866)

Carson City Mint

In the 1960’s, the government was slowly stopping the exchange of silver certificates for silver dollars. After the program ended in 1964, the government had a large supply of original mint sealed bags of silver dollars.  The hoard included over 3 million coins, most of which were minted at the Carson City Mint in Nevada.  Until the discovery of this hoard, CC dollars were thought to be relatively scarce in high grade.  The hoard was mostly CC dollars but around 125,000 coins were discovered to be from other mints. These coins ranged in condition. The uncirculated non CC GSA coins were sold in a plastic holder, labeled as “United States Silver Dollars” instead of the standard “Carson City Silver Dollar“.  There were only 27,980 of the mixed uncirculated non-CC dollars in the hard plastic case and only 84,165 in the soft pack cellophane. The GSA hoard contained up to 84% of the entire mintage of some CC dollars. In the table below you can see the mintages of the dates found and the percentage of the total mintage discovered in the hoard. Table courtesy  of GSADollars.com

tabletable

The Government Services Administration decided that between October 31, 1972 and June 30, 1974, they would have five mail bid sales. These sales limited to only being able to purchase one of each date per household. The 1879, 1890, and 1891 coins sold out and the rest of the coins met little enthusiasm. As of the last sale date in 1974, the US government still had about one million CC coins left. The remaining coins were left untouched for several years until in 1979 the president signed legislation to authorize the sale of the coins, this time at a set price. Originally, the 1980 sale limited the amount of coins per customer to 500 pieces. However, thirteen days before the sale began, the number was dropped to 35 coins per customer.

gsa6With the coins being widely accessible for a handful of years, they began to infiltrate many collections and coin shows. It was common for the coins to be cracked out of their original holders by coin dealers because they seemed too bulky to transport between shows.  At this time, there were so many coins on the market that the original holders weren’t considered to have much value. It was said that the sounds of dealers breaking coins out of the holders could be heard at most major shows, as dealers begun to pack for their trips home.  It was also reported that people saw trash cans full of broken GSA holders at shows as the dealers packed. With the introduction of third party grading, even more coins were cracked out of their original holders and sent in for encapsulation. 

Coin collectors are like all collectors, and like the fine details that separate a coin from another. Soon, with the destruction of the original GSA holders, collectors started seeking the original packaging. It was a big enough search that PCGS and NGC even responded in how they certified the GSA Morgan dollars. They no longer removed them from the original holders and instead would band the holder with the grade and certification. So far, this seems to be the perfect balance most collectors were looking for. Regardless of how they are packaged, GSA Morgan silver dollars are widely loved by collectors and offered a whole generation a way to have coins most people thought they would never own!


Special Thanks to Rodney Levingston for his expertise on this article!

If you’d like to purchase your own GSA coin check out Tim’s Marketplace for GSA coins and many other numismatic goods 

All About the 1804 Silver Dollar

It’s one of the rarest coins in the world: the U.S. issued very few 1804 silver dollars. And they were minted long after their face date of 1804. Only fifteen 1804 silver dollars are known to exist.

How did this all start? The records of the United States Mint show that 19,750 of the coins were struck in 1804, but used dies dated 1803. Paradoxically, dollars dated 1804 didn’t appear until 1834. These were created because the U.S. wanted to create sets of the coins to present to some rulers in Asia.

 

 

The King of Siam coin.

The King of Siam coin.

This included the King of Siam at the time, sparking the rumor that King Rama IV of Siam gave Anna Leonowens of The King and I fame the same silver dollar. According to legend, Anna passed the coin down to her children, and them to their children’s children, and so on through the generations. In the 1950’s two British women claiming to be descended from Anna sold the coin. The Smithsonian Institution displayed the coin as part of the “King of Siam” collection in 1983. They nicknamed it the “King of Coins”. In 2001, an anonymous collector bought the whole King of Siam set of coins for more than $4 million.

Class I of these silver dollars was minted in 1834. Class II of these coins was minted from 1858-1860 illegally by a man named Theodore Eckfeldt, who sold them to coin collectors from his shop in Philadelphia. The U.S. Mint tracked down and destroyed all but one of these coins. Class III was also minted from 1858-1860 by Theodore Eckfeldt, their distinguishing features including a reverse design and a lettered edge as found in Class I. Many Class III silver dollars found their way to collectors before the Mint seized the rest of them.