Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 75

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Lot 1431

1887. NGC graded MS-66. CAC Approved. A blast white frosty mint gem. Much scarcer than a Proof. Only 10,000 struck. Pop 13; 11 finer, 10 in 67, 1 in 68.
Why such a low mintage of small denomination silver coins in 1879 to 1889? According to Neil Carrothers in "Fractional Money", "In the winter of 1877 there suddenly reappeared in circulation literally hundreds of millions of the silver 3 cent pieces, 5 cent pieces, dimes, quarters, and half-dollars that had as suddenly departed in 1862. They streamed in from Canada, from Central America, from South America, and from the West Indies. A small quantity, probably, was brought out from domestic hoards. With the value of silver going down and the value of greenbacks rising toward parity with gold a point had been reached where these long absent coins were worth more at home than they were in foreign countries. The most interesting feature of this unexpected home-coming was the information it afforded as to the fate of the coins in 1862. It showed that they had not been melted or exported to Europe as bullion, although there was a definite profit in melting the coins at that time. They had gone to Latin-America, served as local currency for fifteen years, and then returned. Sherman in 1880 estimated the value of the coins returned in the preceding two years at $22,000,000, and a large amount came back after that time.

"The immediate effect of this development was to stop the sale of new coins. [Treasury Secretary] Sherman suspended subsidiary coinage in the last month of 1877. A later result was the gradual accumulation in the Treasury of an embarrassing volume of excess coins. More than $10,000,000 was stored in the vaults by 1880. The coins came in through small tax payments, postal operations, and various change transactions at Treasury offices. Eventually they became a Treasury problem." Estimated Value $3,000 - 3,200


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