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What Are GSA Carson City Morgan Silver Dollars?

February 2, 2015 1 Comment

GSA Morgan Dollar Case

From 1878 until 1921, the official silver dollar used in circulated was the Morgan Dollar. Morgan dollars were minted at 5 mints across the country:

– Philadelphia (no mint mark on the coin)
– Carson City (“CC” mint mark)
– San Fransisco (“S” mint mark)
– New Orleans (“O” mint mark)
– Denver (“D” mint mark)

Millions of Morgan Dollars were struck at the various mints and eventually there was a glut of the coins. This overabundance, along with the rising popularity of the paper dollar bill, caused the government to consider its options. The government decided to shut the Carson City Mint in 1893, after only 23 years of operation. No coins have been minted at the Carson City Mint ever since.

In the early 1960’s, United States Treasury officials discovered a large quantity of uncirculated Morgan Dollars in the treasury vaults. Coin collectors received word of this discovery and began purchasing large quantities of the silver dollars at a face value of $1. Individuals were purchasing original mint-sealed bags of silver dollars in bulk.

At the time, you could still exchange a $1 silver certificate (basically a $1 dollar bill) for a single silver coin. This exchange of a dollar for silver was eventually shuttered as the United States abandoned the gold standard and continued down the path of fiat money.

Jesse James GSA Hoard

However, in the 1970’s the General Services Administration decided to conduct a sale of the hoard of Carson City Morgan Dollars that it had found in its vaults (commonly referred to as the “GSA Hoard). Between 1972 and 1974, there were 5 sales conducted by the GSA via mail. The sales were limited to allow only 1 coin purchase per household. Sales were brisk and eventually only around 1 million coins remained. The coins then remained dormant for years until 1979 when the rest were sold off at a set price. Sales ceased in 1980 when all the coins were exhausted.

The GSA Hoard By The Numbers

 Date  Mintage Number Discovered
 % of Total Mintage in Hoard
 1878 CC
 2,212,000 61,000
 1879 CC
 4,100 .54%
 1880 CC
 591,000  131,500 22.2%
1881 CC
 296,000 147,500
1882 CC
 605,000 53.3%
 1883 CC
 755,000 62.7%
 1884 CC
1885 CC
 228,000  148,300  65%
1890 CC
 2,309,000 3,950
 1891 CC


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  1. Matt says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for your article. I’ve been a researcher of the CC Morgans for many years. I was fortunate to actually participate in some of the early auctions in the 1970s. The history of these coins has always fascinated me.

    Just a small point: you do realize the numbers you show above in the “Number Discovered” column are rounded quantities, and not the actual numbers, right? Some are rounded up, some down.


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