In March of 1964, the Treasury Department stopped the flow of silver dollars at face value to the public. When that happened they still had approximately 3 million Silver Dollars in their possession. The majority of those were minted at the Carson City (Nevada) mint. Nothing was done with the hoard until late 1971 when they were turned over to the General Services Administration to be sold. Up until that time, Carson City silver dollars were scarce in uncirculated condition. From 1972 to 1980, the GSA conducted a number of sales to the general public of the surplus coins.
These coins first appeared in GSA holders and were not graded. While the GSA holders were good for display or presentation purposes, they were not well received by coin dealers and collectors because they were bulky and hard to store. Many were cracked open and the silver dollars either sold without the cases or replaced with PCGS or NGC holders. The “cracking” practice of the original holders has created an interesting demand for the original GSA holders in the market. Both PCGS and NGC have now started grading the coins in the original cases and applying authenticating/grading labels to the exterior. For accuracy I should mention that ANACS has also graded some GSA Carson City dollars and I would suspect that ICG has as well, but NGC and PCGS are the major players by far.
The GSA Carson City silver dollars remain very popular with collectors and do quite well in auctions. On a positive point for the pedigree collector, the overall increase in availability of the coins has made the Carson City dollars more affordable for collectors that otherwise may not have been able to afford one – or even find one.
Note: This major GSA sale has been called the GSA Carson City sale/hoard/collection; however, there were approximately 125,000 silver dollars from other mints involved in the sale. The other coins include Peace and Morgan silver dollars from the New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco mints.