About 1921 Zerbe Morgan Dollars (Proof)
The 1921 Zerbe proof Morgan dollars were made at the request of Farran Zerbe, who served as president of the American Numismatic Association from 1908 through 1910. While generally classified as proofs in numismatic nomenclature, there is some degree of controversy as to whether these are technically proof coins.
While the 1921 Henry Chapman proof Morgan dollars exhibit distinctive proof-quality diagnostics, such as sharp strikes and super-sharp edges (squarely evidencing those coins as true proofs), the Zerbe proofs more closely resemble proof-like business strikes with more typical strike quality and reflective but not necessarily mirror-like fields. It is believed they were struck using ordinary circulation-quality planchets struck by polished dies. This would place the Zerbe proofs in special strike (not proof) category, and in fact some TPGs have begun labeling pieces formerly known as Zerbe proofs as Zerbe special strikes.
Whether or not the 1921 Zerbe Morgan dollars are really proofs, they are nonetheless numismatically important rarities with a narrative of mystique. Only 150 to 200 were struck and are coveted by Morgan dollar enthusiasts, particularly those who are building collections inclusive of this rare piece. There are also extremely rare 1921 S-mint Zerbe proof strikes from the San Francisco Mint, and these realize huge sums.
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