Fitzgerald Morgan silver dollars are becoming more difficult to acquire in both common and rare dates. When I say common dates I am referring to date/mintmarks that are common to the hoard and rare dates relative to the Fitzgerald population for the coin. Currently, common dates seem to be demanding a premium to acquire and the rare dates are almost impossible to locate.
I have had a little luck in expanding my search for the rare dates from the traditional Ebay source to GreatCollections (www.greatcollections.com) and David Lawrence Rare Coins (www.davidlawrence.com). Both have provided me with some more difficult Fitzgerald Morgan’s as well as Binion silver dollars. As I continue to “beat the bushes” for Fitzgerald surprises, I ventured on Bonhams Auctions (www.bonhams.com). Bonhams brought collectors the Champagne Lanson Bonnet Vineyard Collection of gold coins that I covered in an earlier article. At first, I just had a passing interest in the auction because I really did not think they would have anything of Pedigree interest so I quickly scanned the offerings in their September 14, 2015, auction. Like many auction houses, what is of interest and importance to me (Pedigree coins) does not enter their radar. They are not alone in this view as Heritage, Stacks and the old Teletrade also often ignore Binion, Fitzgerald, etc., pedigrees. But then, while looking at a bundled group of “throw-away” coins I noticed a very rare Fitzgerald date/mintmark Morgan. (“Throw-away” coins: common, low value and/or poor eye appearance coins that are not worth promoting or selling individually).
My find was an 1882-O Fitzgerald Morgan silver dollar “hard” graded as MS63. It really did not register with me at first how rare this coin was in the hoard. I glanced at my Fitzgerald inventory and saw I had one – and again almost past the coin by, but I noticed mine was “soft” graded as AU. Suddenly I had a little more interest and reached for my Fitzgerald bible, “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set” and referred to the population report. The Fitzgerald population report showed only 25 coins were hard graded from the hoard. Since it was late on a Friday and the auction was Monday morning, I had to jump through some hoops to get registered (authorized) to bid. I won’t mention names, but one lady in Bonhams’ client services went beyond boundaries to get me registered and able to bid. Thanks to her, I know own one of the 25 known hard graded 1882-O Morgan’s from the Fitzgerald stash.
Although I have cut back on my Pedigree coin collecting, one thing that still interest me are coins from the Binion and Fitzgerald hoards that have populations within those respective hoards of less than 50 coins. As a reminder, when I talk populations I talk of coins that have not only been authenticated as from the hoards but also received “hard” grades. My population figures do not include “soft” graded coins designated simply as “Brilliant Uncirculated” or some similar designation. All this “jargon” is covered in detail in my book “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set”.