Design of the Morgan Dollar
The front, or "obverse," side of the silver coin features a portrait of Lady Liberty. She is shown wearing a Phrygian cap, which is a type of hat that was often worn by freed slaves in ancient Rome, and is meant to symbolize freedom. She has long, flowing hair and is facing left. Above her head is the word "LIBERTY," and the obverse also includes the inscriptions "E Pluribus Unum" and the date of production.
On the back, or "reverse," side of the coin, there is an image of an eagle. The eagle has its wings spread wide and is holding arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other. This is meant to symbolize the country's readiness for war, but also its desire for peace. Above the eagle are the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," and the words "ONE DOLLAR" are below the eagle. The reverse also features the inscription "In God We Trust". All Morgan Silver Dollars feature a mint mark on the reverse above the "ONE DOLLAR" inscription, with the exception of the Philadelphia Mint Morgan Dollars which have no mint mark.
Why Were Morgan Silver Dollars Minted?
The Morgan Silver Dollars were minted as result of the Bland-Allison Act, which was signed on February 28th, 1878. This act required the US Treasury to purchase millions of dollars worth of silver bullion every month, which was then coined into silver dollars. The reasons for this decision included alleviating economic depression and increasing federal revenue.
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 greatly increased the number of silver dollars in circulation by authorizing the United States Treasury to purchase up to 4.5 million ounces of silver each month to create silver reserves for use in coinage. This led to a sharp increase in production of the Morgan silver dollar, which was struck from 1878 until 1904. The act effectively created an environment where more money was available, increasing demand for both gold and silver coins. As a result, Morgan dollars became one of the most popular coins of all time, with more than 600 million being minted across its entire existence.
The Morgan Silver Dollar was produced to satisfy demand for coins made of the precious metals during a period of rising silver prices. It replaced the short-lived Seated Liberty Dollar, which circulated only briefly in 1860 before being discontinued due to its unpopularity among Americans. The Morgan Silver Dollar became an instant hit when it was released and remained popular throughout its production run.
Where were Morgan Dollars Minted
The Morgan Silver Dollar was originally struck at four US Mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans and Carson City. Of these mints, the most iconic are those from the former two – sometimes known as "Old Mint" coins due to their age. In addition, 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars were produced only in Philadelphia and bear no mintmark. They would be the final Morgan silver dollar minted in the twentieth century. As part of the 100th Anniversary of the 1921 Morgan Dollar, the US Mint also authorized production of the 2021 Morgan Silver Dollars at the Denver Mint.
The Morgan Dollars and the Pittman Act
In April 1918, the Pittman Act had cleared a path for significant reform within the US's silver currency system, authorizing 350 million standard silver dollars to be melted and re-coined. Almost 300 million Morgan’s were melted into bullion because of this Act. This dramatic alteration saw coins replaced by modernized versions made from domestic silver. In 1921 the US minted the Morgan dollar again in Denver with newly created dies set exclusively for this purpose. Also in 1921, new silver dollars were minted, with the Peace dollar being produced for the first time to commemorate the conclusion of World War I, further increasing silver dollar production. The revolutionary law ultimately facilitated much needed change across America's precious metals market, while also increasing the production of paper money.
100th Anniversary of the Morgan Silver Dollars
The US Mint celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the last Morgan Silver Dollar (and first Peace Dollar) in 2021 with a release of five new Morgan Silver Dollars struck at the Denver Mint, Philadelphia Mint, and San Francisco Mint. They were made available for collectors looking to buy Morgan Silver Dollars to add to their collections.
Two of the new Morgan Dollars featured Carson City (CC) and New Orleans (O) privy mint marks to honor the Morgan dollars formerly struck at the Carson City Mint and the New Orleans Mint.
These new Morgan dollars were struck in .999 pure silver and featured the same design as their hundred year old counter-parts using modern minting technology. The familiar Lady Liberty design became a favorite of collectors and they quickly sold out at the US Mint.
Morgan Silver Dollar Condition and Varieties
These beloved coins come in several varieties, including rare proofs from certain years and mints. Proof Morgan Silver Dollars are highly sought after by collectors because they are more scarce than their circulation counterparts due to their limited mintage numbers. In addition, these coins can be found with different conditions and grades ranging from circulated coins to, uncirculated Morgan Silver Dollars up to perfect Mint State 70 condition.
Popular Among Silver Dollar Collectors
The Morgan Silver Dollars are highly sought after by coin collectors who buy Morgan Silver Dollars for their historic significance and high quality of craftsmanship. These coins have become part of American history and remain highly sought after to this day by coin collectors all over the world.
Today, the Morgan Dollar remains one of the most popular coins with collectors. Its beautiful design and historical significance make it an excellent choice for any numismatic enthusiast. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just getting started, a Morgan Silver Dollar is sure to be a wonderful addition to your coin collection!