NGC Certifies the Battle Creek Collection of Rainbow Toned Morgan Dollars

Posted on 6/6/2005

Eye appeal gets a star!

Click to enlarge

NGC is pleased to announce that it has graded the Battle Creek Collection, an original group of Morgan dollars possessing exceptional eye appeal. Included among this group are coins that represent the very finest toned pieces to come out of original mint bags that had not seen the light of day for many decades. Every coin is encapsulated with the pedigree Battle Creek Collection, and, even more significantly, each graded coin in the collection has received NGC's coveted star designation for superior eye appeal.


The coins of the Battle Creek Collection resided in ten $1,000 bags. Until March 1964, it was possible to redeem silver certificates with US silver dollar coins, and many collectors thus acquired original bags of Morgan dollars. The Battle Creek Collection bags were tagged with both original Philadelphia Mint tags and seals dated 1885 (2 bags), 1886 (2 bags), or 1887 (6 bags). Additional each had a supplementary tag from the Detroit Branch of the Chicago Federal Reserve bearing dates in the 1920's.

The bags had resided in the estate of a collector, and upon his passing his executor invited several coin dealers to make purchase offers on the group. The bags were sewn sealed, and dealers present were required to bid "blind," meaning they could not examine the coins prior to purchase. The bags were slit in their presence to prove that they did, in fact, contain silver dollars.

Dennis Steinmetz of Steinmetz Coin & Currency in Lancaster, PA, successfully purchased the coins. Thereafter, the bags were opened and tubed for submission to NGC at Engle's Coin Shop in Indianapolis, IN. Stienmetz, a full-time rare coin dealer since 1974, realized that he had purchased something special: "The coins were truly spectacular. There was no way to know that this was a toned dollar deal when I bought them."

Battle Creek Collection MInt Bag tie
This seal secured the contents of a Philadelphia Mint bag of 1886 Morgan dollars, many of which now reside in the Battle Creek Collection. Click to enlarge

Interestingly, one bag of 1887 dollars contained a small number of 1904-O dated coins, and Steinmetz believes that these coins were added to a partial bag at the Federal Reserve bank in the 1920's. Steinmetz also kept the original bags and seals as a memento of this unusual group of coins. (Editor's Note: more photographs of bags and seals will be made available shortly as part of this release on the NGC website).


The grading result also was indeed unusual. Of the 10,000 coins submitted, 1,359 were awarded the NGC star designation for extraordinary eye appeal. These stars were awarded to both rainbow toned coins and coins that exhibited other special features such as one-sided prooflike surfaces. Additionally, 247 coins possessing original color but grading below MS 63 were also separated from the main group by NGC. At the time of grading, the NGC star designation was not assigned to coins grading below MS 63, and these coins were graded as Brilliant Uncirculated.

NGC grades a number of original bag deals of Morgan dollars every year, and has graded over 2 million Morgan dollars in its 20-year history. Although the dates and grades represented in the collection were in a general sense common, never before had NGC encountered such a great abundance of coins with exceptional eye-appeal from a single group of ten original bags.

The 1,606 coins with special attributes were thus segmented. Owing to the spectacular richness of the hoard, the submitter requested a special pedigree for the coins awarded star designations. He suggested Battle Creek Collection because of the geographic origins of the coins. The 8,000+ remaining coins were returned encapsulated without special recognition.


Date BU MS 63 MS 64 MS 65 MS 66
1885   75 83 64 24
1885 PL   1 2    
1885 DPL   1    
1886 67 172 185 99 26
1886 PL   2 8 5  
1886 DPL   2 3 1  
1887 180 239 201 133 24
1904-O   5 2 1 1

At the time of grading, Mark Salzberg, NGC Chairman, commented: "The real significance of this collection is the sheer density of spectacular color seen on coin after coin. To create such a myriad of vibrant and diverse tones required ideal storage conditions." Salzberg further comments that, "We've seen hundreds and hundreds of original dollar bags without seeing the quality and richness of color seen on these coins. A group like this won't come up again soon." Mark Salzberg personally served as grading finalizer for each of the coins from the Battle Creek Collection.

Battle Creek Collection
Click to enlarge

The vibrant patina that results from storage in original mint bags is most often referred to by numismatists as "bag toning." For a coin to tone, it must have rested near the canvas fabric of the bag, which in turn needed to be stored in a stable environment that fostered its development. Bag toned coins can display intense iridescent colors that include every shade in the rainbow; these so-called "rainbow toned" coins, which show varying bands of color, are much sought after by collectors. If a coin rests partially atop another, dramatic arcs of color can result in a pattern called "crescent toning." Among the most desirable bag toning formations that can occur are "textile toned" coins which incorporate the intricate woven pattern of the canvas bag within the multicolor patina of the coin. Coins from the Battle Creek Collection include all these possible iterations of bag toning.

Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills was selected to auction the Battle Creek Collection. The coins were sold in a series of four auctions in 2005 and early 2006. At the time of the first sale, Paul Song, Vice President of Superior Auctions stated, "We are very excited to be able to offer this collection to the public. As toned coins go, the Battle Creek Collection has color and eye appeal overall much above any other dollar hoard we have seen." In addition to the images displayed in this release, Superior Galleries maintains an auction archive on their website,, where the coins can still be seen.

Want to see more images? The Battle Creek Collection of Morgan Silver Dollars.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.