1892-S $1 MS66 PCGS. Ex: Jackson Hole. This is a sensational example, and despite the existence of a few higher grade specimens, it is among the finer pieces we have handled. The surfaces are virtually flawless with smooth, satin-like mint luster and full silvery brilliance. Only a whisper of mauve toning can be seen at the peripheral areas on each side. A tiny mark below Liberty's eye and two other smaller marks on the upper chin may be used as pedigree markers, but there are no other blemishes on either side. All of the design elements on each side are sharply detailed and essentially complete with only a slight merging of hair strands over Liberty's ear.
At the San Francisco Mint in 1892, a total of 1.2 million silver dollars were struck, with exactly 100,000 pieces minted each month from January through December. This was a unique situation of consistency. As indicated by the existence of many worn pieces, most 1892-S dollars entered circulation at the time of issue. Others remained in the vaults at the San Francisco Mint, to be paid out over the next few decades. Auction records in the early part of the 20th century were typically about $1.50 for Mint State coins.
A single bag of 1,000 coins was paid out in the mid-1920s, after which supplies seemed to be exhausted, as there is no record in the literature of any bags being released in the 1930s or beyond. In all likelihood, the single bag released in the 1920s provided the sole supply of Mint State pieces that still exist today. By the 1950s the date was recognized as an important issue among all Morgan dollars, being priced as one of the top five dates in early editions of the Guide Book. In the 14th edition that was published in 1960, for example, Uncirculated examples of the 1892-S were priced at $125, with only the 1889-CC, 1893-S, 1898-O, 1903-O, and 1904-O dates priced higher. Three years later, the 17th edition was published immediately after the massive Treasury distribution, and the 1892-S was priced slightly higher at $175. By this time, only the 1889-CC and 1893-S dollars had higher prices.
As the extensive release of silver dollars from the Treasury in the early 1960s was analyzed, it was realized that few 1892-S dollars had come into the market. In fact, no new pieces had entered the market at that time. Great demand was generated for all examples of the date, both circulated and especially Mint State. However, the 1892-S silver dollar exists in the shadow of the more famous 1893-S issue, yet it is nearly as rare and desirable, especially in the highest grades. It has not received the same attention as the 1893-S due to the existence of a disproportionate number of circulated examples. In grades below AU, the date is relatively common. Even as recently as the 1990s, the date has not garnered the respect it deserves, despite its rarity in true Mint State grades. Because many Choice AU examples were invariably offered as full Mint State pieces over a period of many years, those that truly are Mint State quality were not given their due respect.
Fortunately, the situation has changed with the advent of third-party grading services and population data. In the past two decades, the true rarity of the issue in the highest grades has finally been recognized. Today, it is believed that only 200 to 300 Mint State examples are known, with only a couple dozen in Gem or finer quality. A review of our own sales over the past 15 years indicates that we have handled a single MS68 example, three different MS67 coins, and three others (including this piece) that grade MS66. Population: 3 in 66, 6 finer (2/07).
From The Jackson Hole Collection.(Registry values: P8, N10218)