Although the 1884-S had a healthy mint run and 3,200,000 were produced, most appear to have found their way into circulation and the survival of mint state examples is low. Wayne Miller ranked the date as rarity 10 (of 12) in grades of MS 60, and at rarity 11 in MS 65. The most famous 1884-S is that which graced the George Bodway collection and was part of the PCGS Tour (see Highfill, 2017, p. 1233 for an illustration). In 1994, along with the entire Bodway collection, it was sold to Jack Lee, who amassed what is universally acknowledged as the finest collection of Morgan silver dollars ever assembled.
The present coin has only recently been published in the new edition of Highfill (2017) as having been Jack Lee's finest example prior to his acquisition of the Bodway specimen. According to Lee's own listing (p. 482) it was the finest known example as of June 18, 1992. His own listing indicates that at that time he also owned yet another example graded PCGS MS 65 (ex-John Highfill and noted by Lee as the second finest known).
This piece appears to have been acquired for this collection from Jefferson Coin and Bullion probably between 1994 and 1995. Graded by PCGS as MS 67 it is unique at the grade, with only the Bodway-Lee coin exceeding it in grade. The third finest example is a single PCGS MS 65 (possibly the Highfill-Lee coin noted above). PCGS records eleven examples as MS 64. NGC has graded a single coin as MS 66 and nothing finer. CAC has had two hundred and ninety-five submissions of the date, and has certified six examples as MS 64 nothing finer, except this coin, which is, again, unique at the grade.
The combined auction data of PCGS and NGC record the highest graded and certified examples appearing at public sale being an NGC MS 65 (in an NGC 17 holder [circa 2004-2008]) which was sold at Heritage, January 2009, for $149,500; and a PCGS MS 64 Secure [CAC] (in a Generation 4.4 holder [circa 2010-2011]) by Legend Rare Coin Auctions, October 2014 for $164,500 [the record price for the date]).
NOTHING APPROACHING THE CERTIFIED GRADE OF THE PRESENTLY OFFERED EXAMPLE IS RECORDED AS HAVING EVER APPEARED AT PUBLIC AUCTION. THIS IS THE SINGLE FINEST EXAMPLE CERTIFIED BY CAC.
Certificate number: 4069761 (Generation 3.1 holder). PCGS cites one example at MS 65; one (this coin) at MS 67; and one finer (MS 68); the finest single example listed by NGC is graded MS 66. CAC records this coin as the finest it has certified, nothing else finer than MS 64 is cited. (02-18)
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