What is So Special About the GSA Silver Dollar?
Until 1964, U.S. citizens could redeem Silver Certificates for Silver Dollars at a U.S. Treasury mint on demand. On one of these occasions, in 1962, one particular individual received a rare and valuable Morgan Silver Dollar, triggering huge interest in Silver Dollars and resulting in millions of Morgan Silver Dollars and Peace Silver Dollars being sold to the general public. Lines formed outside the Treasury Building in Washington D.C. for the exchange and some people brought buckets and wheelbarrows to haul their Silver Dollars home.
During this time, the U.S. Treasury discovered mint bags of Carson City Morgan Dollars in its vaults, with a total of around 2.8 million Silver Dollars. This “secret stash” was the result of Americans not wanting to carry the large-sized Silver Dollars, forcing the government to store millions of these coins in their vaults.
These millions of Silver Dollars were believed to have been melted following the Pittman Act of 1918, when 270,232,722 Morgan Silver Dollars were melted and converted into Silver bullion, with 259,121,554 sold to Great Britain and 11,111,168 used for subsidiary Silver coinage. Treasury officials held back these newly found Carson City Morgan Silver Dollars due to their low mintages and rarity and they came to be known as the Government Services Administration Hoard, or the GSA Hoard.
On December 31, 1970, legislation passed to sell the Carson City Silver Dollars through the Government Services Administration via a mail bid sale. Uncirculated Silver coins were sorted and mounted in a small plastic display case. Each came with a certificate of authenticity with an eight-digit serial number that started with the last two numbers of the date of the coin. Circulated coins were sealed in plastic, often referred to as soft packs.
The GSA conducted seven mail bid sales between 1972 and 1980, selling all Carson City Morgan Silver Dollars from the GSA Hoard. Buyers bid on individual years by sending in an order form and check and, naturally, had to pay more for Silver Dollars with lower mintages. Some bids were not deemed high enough and the government issued checks to reimburse buyers for the amount they had sent in with their order form.
Later, coin dealers found the plastic GSA holders to be bulky and bothersome when it came to transferring them back and forth to coin shows. In the interest of convenience, they removed the Silver Dollars out of their GSA holders and sold them individually to collectors. This resulted in increased rarity of GSA-Holdered Silver Dollars, of course increasing their appeal.
Two of the top coin grading services, Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), preserve the integrity of the GSA holders when the coins are submitted. PCGS uses a gasket and plastic encapsulation that surrounds the original GSA Holder, keeping it protected. NGC uses a ribbon sticker and a holographic sticker that allows the GSA Holder to fit in the original presentation box.
GSA Silver Dollars are highly collectible today and often command much higher premiums than other uncirculated Silver Dollars.