1895 Morgan Dollar
Regarding the 1895 Morgan dollar, although Mint records at one time indicated that 12,000 circulation strikes were produced, not a single piece can be accounted for today. Indeed, A Guide Book of United States Coins notes: “Business strikes are not known to exist.” (We prefer the terminology “circulation strike” to “business strike.”) As brought out in research published by Henry T. Hettger and Q. David Bowers, the figure of 12,000 apparently represents pieces dated 1894, not 1895. Soon after Proof 1895 dollars were struck, dealers and others recognized that there were no circulation strikes and said so in print.
In the entire field of Morgan silver dollar dates and mints from the first year of issue, 1878, to the last, 1921, the 1895 Morgan dollar has no close competitors with regard to rarity. Perhaps 700 are known today from the mintage of just 880. In contrast, although certain other Morgan dollars can be elusive, rare, or even extremely rare in grades such as choice and Gem Mint State, the total population of such other pieces is well into the thousands. Focusing on one such example, the 1893-S, while the number of Mint State pieces known is perhaps only 50 to 100, many thousands of circulated coins are known, making them readily available in lower grades. The 1889-CC, another item of great desire, exists by the thousands mostly in low grade Mint State. While one can opt to buy a circulated or low Mint State grade 1889-CC or 1893-S, a Proof 1895 is the only game in town for the latter variety. We have long wondered why the price of these pieces is so low.