The San Francisco Mint: An Iconic Institution
The San Francisco Mint, one of the most storied and iconic institutions in the United States, has a rich history that dates back to 1854. Established in response to the California Gold Rush, the Mint began producing gold coins and later transitioned to producing silver coins, including the renowned Morgan Dollar. Throughout its existence, the San Francisco Mint has been affectionately known as the "Granite Lady" due to its impressive granite structure, which has stood the test of time and survived the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake
Over the years, the San Francisco Mint has produced various denominations of U.S. coins, but the Morgan Silver Dollars struck at this facility hold a special place in numismatic history. These coins are identifiable by the "S" mintmark, which can be found on the reverse side of the coin, just below the eagle's tail feathers.
The Morgan Dollar: A Brief History
The Morgan Dollar, named after its designer, George T. Morgan, is a silver coin minted in the United States between 1878 and 1904, with a one-time revival in 1921. The coin features a left-facing portrait of Lady Liberty on the obverse, wearing a Phrygian cap with the word "LIBERTY" inscribed on a ribbon. The reverse side showcases a heraldic eagle with outstretched wings, holding arrows and an olive branch, symbolizing the nation's military strength and desire for peace.
The Bland-Allison Act of 1878 authorized the production of the Morgan Dollar. This legislation aimed to help American silver miners by requiring the U.S. government to purchase large amounts of silver and convert it into coins. Consequently, the Morgan Dollar was struck using 90% silver and 10% copper, with a total weight of 26.73 grams and a diameter of 38.1 millimeters.
The Allure of San Francisco Mint Morgan Silver Dollars
San Francisco Mint Morgan Silver Dollars are highly sought after by collectors for several reasons. Firstly, the coins minted at the San Francisco facility are known for their superior strike quality and overall craftsmanship. This can be attributed to the diligent work of the Mint's employees, who took great pride in producing coins of exceptional quality.
Secondly, San Francisco Mint Morgan Silver Dollars are often rarer than their counterparts from other mints, such as Philadelphia or New Orleans. Lower mintages and a smaller surviving population make these coins highly desirable for numismatists who seek to build comprehensive collections. The combination of scarcity and exceptional quality results in a significant premium for these coins in the marketplace.
Finally, the rich history associated with the San Francisco Mint adds an extra layer of allure to these coins. Collectors appreciate the opportunity to own a piece of American history, and the story of the San Francisco Mint and the California Gold Rush only adds to the coins' mystique.
Key Dates and Varieties of San Francisco Mint Morgan Silver Dollars
Several key dates and varieties of San Francisco Mint Morgan Silver Dollars are particularly noteworthy and sought after by collectors. Some of these include:
- 1878-S: The first year of issue for Morgan Dollars struck at the San Francisco Mint, this coin often commands a premium, especially in higher grades.
- 1881-S: Renowned for its outstanding strike quality and luster, the 1881-S Morgan Dollar is a favorite among collectors.
- 1892-S: With a relatively low mintage of just over one million coins, the 1892-S Morgan Dollar is challenging to find in higher grades and is highly prized by collectors
- 1893-S: Often considered the "king" of the Morgan Dollars, the 1893-S has the lowest mintage of all Morgan Dollars, with only 100,000 coins produced. This coin is extremely rare, especially in higher grades, and is a top acquisition for any serious collector.
- 1901-S: With a relatively low mintage and a small surviving population, the 1901-S Morgan Dollar is considered scarce in all grades and particularly difficult to find in uncirculated condition.