1878-1921 - Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan dollar was a United States dollar coin minted from 1878 to 1904, and then again in 1921. It was the first standard silver dollar minted since production of the previous design, the Seated Liberty dollar, ceased due to the passage of the Coinage Act of 1873, which also ended the free coining of silver. The coin is named for its designer, United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan. The obverse depicts a profile portrait representing Liberty, while the reverse depicts an eagle with wings outstretched.
The dollar was authorized by the Bland–Allison Act. Following the passage of the 1873 act, mining interests lobbied to restore free silver, which would require the Mint to accept all silver presented to it and return it, struck into coin. Instead, the Bland–Allison Act was passed, which required the Treasury to purchase between two and four million dollars' worth of silver at market value to be coined into dollars each month. In 1890, the Bland–Allison Act was repealed by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the Treasury to purchase 4,500,000 troy ounces (140,000 kg) of silver each month, but only required further silver dollar production for one year. This act, in turn, was repealed in 1893.
In 1898, Congress approved a bill that required all remaining bullion purchased under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act to be coined into silver dollars. When those silver reserves were depleted in 1904, the Mint ceased to strike the Morgan dollar. The Pittman Act, passed in 1918, authorized the melting and recoining of millions of silver dollars. Pursuant to the act, Morgan dollars resumed mintage for one year in 1921. The design was replaced by the Peace dollar later the same year.
In the early 1960s, a large quantity of uncirculated Morgan dollars was found to be available from Treasury vaults, including issues once thought rare. Individuals began purchasing large quantities of the pieces at face value, and eventually the Treasury ceased exchanging silver certificates for silver coin. Beginning in the 1970s, the Treasury conducted a sale of silver dollars minted at the Carson City Mint through the General Services Administration. In 2006, Morgan's reverse design was used on a silver dollar issued to commemorate the old San Francisco Mint building.
Years of minting 1878-1904, 1921
Value 1 United States dollar
Mass 26.73 g (412½ gr)
Diameter 38.1 mm (1.5 in)
CC (Carson City)
S (San Francisco)
O (New Orleans)
Morgan Dollar: 1878-1921
Quick Coinage Facts
Years Minted: 1878-1921
Mints: Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, Denver
Composition: 0.900 silver, 0.100 copper
Diameter: 38.1 mm
Weight: 26.73 grams (0.7734 ounces of silver)
Total Mintage: 656,930,590
The most popular variety for the entire series occurred in its first year (1878). During this year two varieties were created when the mint released an eagle reverse that had 8 tail feathers and another with 7 tail feathers.
Over the decades even more varieties have surfaced and the largest cataloging of these were performed by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis. Their cataloging is commonly refers to each variety numerically and are noted as a VAM # (VAM-1, VAM-2, etc…). Some VAM varieties are quite popular among Morgan dollar collectors and their prices adequately reflect the rarity & demand for these varieties.
General Market Notes
The Morgan dollar remains one of the most popular U.S. coins collected and collector intensity rivals that of even Lincoln cent collectors.
Though many coins have been melted over the years, many specimens have survived as they were not widely circulated during their time of issue so common year coins are readily available and affordable. The largest influence on these coins are not so much collector demand as it is the price of silver as each coin contains .77344 ounces of silver.
For the investor, the keys to the series (excluding proofs & errors) are the 1879-CC, 1889-CC, 1892-S, and 1893-S issues. The semi-keys are the 1884-S, 1892-CC, 1893-CC, 1893-O, 1894, 1895-O, 1895-S, 1896-O, 1896-S, 1901, 1903-S, and 1904-S issues.
1 Dollar "Morgan Dollar"
Country United States
Value 1 Dollar (1 USD)
Metal Silver (.900)
Weight 26.73 g
Diameter 38.1 mm
Thickness 3.1 mm
Engraver George T. Morgan
Orientation Coin alignment ↑↓