An 1895-O “Branch Proof” Morgan silver dollar was the star of the show at the Heritage rare coin auction at the recent Long Beach Expo in California. Graded PR66 Cameo by NGC, this coin is the finest of the only five known examples, and sold for $528,750.
A branch proof coin is a coin made at a U.S. Mint during the classic era from dies and blanks that were specially prepared at a branch mint (classic era proofs were made at Philadelphia as a rule.) This coin would have been struck as a special gift for someone very important, but the identity of the original recipient remains a mystery. In fact, until around 1995, the existence of 1895-O Morgan proofs was not even heard of.
Here is the description of the coin from the Heritage auction catalog:
Unlike most 1895-O dollars, which are poorly struck, this piece has an absolutely full strike. That means complete hair detail over the ear as well as full feather definition on the eagle. The fields show extraordinary depth of mirroring, quite unlike that seen on Morgan dollars of other dates that are Deep Mirror Prooflike. Die polishing is complete from rim to rim, except for the minute areas noted above. And as Berman noted in his column, this piece lacks bag marks. There are contact marks, as one would expect to see on a proof, but it lacks the tiny abrasions Morgan dollars display that were housed for years or decades in canvas bags. The most obvious contact mark is a shallow, angling abrasion just behind the mouth of Liberty. On the reverse, there are three shallow planchet defects in the field below ED of UNITED. Otherwise, the surfaces are brilliant with no evidence of color on either side. The devices are nicely frosted, yielding noticeable field-device contrast on both sides. In-person inspection of this dollar will remove any doubt from a prospective bidder’s mind.