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What Are GSA Dollars? The Story Behind GSA Morgan Dollars & How Much These Old Silver Dollars Are Worth

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By Joshua

If you know a thing or two about Morgan silver dollars, then you may have heard about GSA dollars.

GSA dollars (the acronym stands for the United States government’s General Services Administration) are Morgan silver dollars which were found in an old vault stash decades ago and sold to coin collectors by the GSA in the 1970s.

GSA silver dollars are mainly uncirculated Morgan dollars made at the Carson City Mint.

So-called GSA dollars, packaged in a plastic holder and sent to coin collectors who bid on them from the GSA, are sought after by numismatists.

The Story Behind GSA Dollars

There was a time, before the 1960s, when it was thought certain now-common (or not very scarce) Morgan dollars were rare.

Perhaps one of the notable stories is that of the 1903-O (New Orleans) Morgan dollar.

That coin went from being supposedly rare and worth over $1,000 in uncirculated grades to significantly less in value. Why? The U.S. government found stockpiles of the 1903-O and other Morgan dollars hidden away in old vaults.

In fact, when the vaults opened on the millions of old, uncirculated Morgan dollars during the early 1960s, the interest in the Morgan dollar series literally grew overnight.

People clamored to get their hands on these uncirculated Morgan dollars. However, the government eventually stopped offering these bags of vault-hidden Morgan dollars as the rush of people standing in line at banks to get these coins became nearly overwhelming.

As the Morgan dollar bonanza ended at the banks, many bags of Carson City-minted dollars remained.

It was eventually determined that the best way to sell off these coins was through a mail-bid program. Once the GSA officially got ahold of the program, the Morgan dollars were packaged and the mail-bid program went underway in 1972.

The sale lasted through 1974. Certain dates — like the 1879 CC, 1890 CC, and 1891 CC — moved out quickly. Others, however, didn’t sell as quickly as anticipated.

Thousands and thousands of coins were left behind. After several years passed, the remaining Morgan dollars went back on sale in 1979, with the last being sold in 1980.

 GSA Dollar Values

There were many dates of GSA dollars.

While most were uncirculated Carson City dollars, there were several circulated Morgan dollars sold in the GSA promotion.

There were a variety of grades and dates sold, there isn’t a single value for any GSA dollar.

Any Morgan dollar still in its original GSA plastic packaging has a small premium value over the regular price of the coin. Why? Along with the now-historic aspect of the GSA dollar sales, many of these coins have been cracked out of their holders over the years so coin collectors could stick the coins in albums or have them graded by third-party graders. The GSA plastic packaging has therefore become somewhat scarcer over the years.

Because there were so many different dates and grades of GSA dollars, below you’ll find values for uncirculated Carson City Morgan dollars — which are, by far, the most common type of GSA dollar:

  • 1878-CC $390
  • 1879-CC $6,500
  • 1880-CC $600
  • 1881-CC $590
  • 1882-CC $235
  • 1883-CC $230
  • 1884-CC $230
  • 1885-CC $755
  • 1889-CC $40,000
  • 1890-CC $850
  • 1891-CC $700
  • 1892-CC $1,900
  • 1893-CC $5,750

Retail values listed here are approximate for Mint State 63 coins.

More About The Carson City Mint

The old mint building in Carson City is rooted in history. Dating back to the times of the Old Wild West, the Carson City Mint was built in the late 1860s and first struck coins in 1870.

With the massive Comstock Lode silver mine nearby, the Carson City Mint primarily struck silver coins.

  • Silver dollars are most often associated with the Carson City Mint.
  • Dimes, 20-cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, and even some gold coins were made there, too.

The Carson City Mint stopped making coins in 1893. The building, however, was preserved. In 1941, it became the Nevada State Museum.

Some 22 tons of unused “CC” silver dollars (approximately 750,000 of them) were emptied from the (former) mint’s vault and shipped back east. Most of them remained in storage until the 1970s, when the General Services Administration (GSA) began packaging each dollar individually and offered them for sale to the public. In today’s market, silver dollars in their original GSA enclosures actually carry a small premium.

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