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Carson City Dollars: 90% Silver, 100% History

5th National Silver Dollar Convention

St. Louis, Missouri

November 8 – 11, 1984



Carson City Dollars:

90% Silver, 100% History



Of all the United States silver dollars minted from 1878 to 1935, none have more history and fewer coins minted than the silver dollars from Carson City.  Unlike most mints which produced 5 to 25 million silver dollars per year, Carson City minted from only several hundred thousand to just over two million.  Compare this to some of the huge mintages, such as the 1922 and the 1923 Philadelphia minted Peace dollars at 51.7 million and 30.8 million respectively, or the 1921 Philadelphia Morgan dollar at 44.6 million.  In other words, Carson City silver dollars, as a whole, are the scarcest silver dollars.  (See Chart III.)  But, like thousands of other Americans, what I really like about the Carson City dollars is the history, drama and romance associated with them.

Western America

I must admit I’ve always been a nut on the American West.  The spirit of the early American pioneers, the fur trappers, the farmers, the ranchers, the explorers and the miners who braved the wilds and settled the West, has always fascinated me.  Just a hundred years ago the last of the American Indian Wars was concluded and large sections of the American west were still wild and virtually uninhabited except for the occasional ranger, miner, or farmer.  It was in those last wild years of the American frontier in 1882-1884 that the small frontier mint in Carson City produced its so-called “common-date” silver dollars.

Even though the original mintages of these frontier Carson City cartwheels (the nickname westerner gave silver dollars) were extremely small, the fact that the United States government held several hundred thousands of them and sold them on the open marketplace has made the 1882-1884 a relative bargain price compared to the most other Carson City dollars which sell for $200 to $5,000 or higher each.  The 1882, ’83 and ’84 are still available, even though the original mintages were extremely low, at only $110 per coin for MS60 dollars, or only $130 per coin for choice MS63.  At these price levels, the 1882, ’83 and ’84 are the least expensive Carson City dollars you can purchase.

Collectors who want to round out a silver dollar collection by owning one coin from every mint seek these out first.  Even though the original mintage of these coins in each year is approximately a million, the surviving specimens are dramatically lower.  Dick Reed, in his book on U.S. silver dollars, estimates, for example, that only approximately 365 bags remain of 1882-CC in MS60 condition; 575 bags of 1883-CC in MS60; and 635 bags of 1884-CC in MS60 condition.  Even though the market considers these the most “common date” Carson City dollars, they are really quite scarce.

Old Piece of American History

Remember that Carson City dollars were minted in the heart of the “wild west” years of 1878 to 1893.  This was the period during the peak of the American Indian Wars.  It is interesting to remember that the majority of the Carson City dollars were not only minted in this historic Comstock Lode silver mining town of Carson City, but were minted before such historic western events as the shootout at the OK Corral, and the final Indian battle at Wounded Knee.  Each of these coins is an individual piece of classic American western history.  Appropriately, when the mint closed prematurely, in 1893, it was a story associated with a western type Watergate scandal, which is fascinating to read even today.  It’s a typical wild West story involving smuggling, a man hunt, a posse, two embarrassing trials and a cast of characters straight out of a Louis L’Amour novel, but it’s all true American history.


But what really excited me about the Carson City dollars is their super low mintages compared to other silver dollars.  To illustrate this, take a look at this chart showing the 1882, 1883, and 1884 Carson City dollars compared to some of the larger U.S. mintage silver dollars.  The relative scarcity and relative value of the ’82, ’83, and ’84 Carson City dollars is apparent.

I can easily see these coins having the ability to go up to the price range of $500-$700 each, because of their low mintage and because the Carson City dollar is the Cadillac of cartwheels – the top of the line of U.S. silver dollars.  And, I sincerely recommend that all of our readers own at least several of these fine historic pieces of western Americana.  Remember other Carson City dollars are already selling for such high prices as $200 to $5,000 each, so the 1882, ’83, and ’84 are still relatively inexpensive.

Chart III

How Carson City Dollars Stack Up




(MS60) Price/Coin


























*Highly recommended






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