better than new?
By Steve Roach
appetite for Morgan dollars seems to be
heartiest at the high and low levels of the
market, leaving the middle wanting for activity,
as evidenced by activity and auctions at the
Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo in
Bowers & Merena conducted an auction with many
mid-range Morgan and Peace dollars. Nearly all
of these traded around wholesale levels,
although a high sell-through rate shows that
buyers are actively stocking up at these lower
The few breakout stars that transcended
wholesale levels were those dollars that were
clear shots for an upgrade and a handful of
coins that displayed exuberant color.
Some heavy discounting was seen with Numismatic
Guaranty Corp. coins in grades of Mint State 65
through MS-68. Many of these achieved prices
that hovered dangerously close to already low
sight-unseen wholesale prices, with multiple
NGC-graded dollars selling for half of the
sight-seen wholesale price level.
Bowers & Merena denotes older generation holders
with the "OGH" and "OH" abbreviation in the
title line, but these notations did not always
equate to higher prices.
There is a perception among collectors that
older Professional Coin Grading Service and NGC
holders are more conservatively graded and thus
represent high-end examples for the grade. With
some, like an 1889-O Morgan dollar in PCGS MS-64
that sold for $2,257, this perception was likely
factual. But, among the three PCGS MS-63 1888-S
Morgan dollars offered, the two in "OGH" holders
realized $345 and $372, while the more recently
slabbed example realized $500.
Factoring into consideration, too, is the
thought that many coins reside in an older
holder, not because after hiding for years in an
old collection they are fresh to the market, but
because they were overgraded at one point, and
sellers know that under current grading
standards, these coins would not pass muster.
A bright note is that the continuing interest in
bullion has resulted in sustained strength for
generic Uncirculated Morgan and Peace dollars,
although the premiums for circulated examples
have softened a bit.