Morgan Silver Dollars, 1878-1921

Morgan Silver Dollars, 1878-1921

Designed by: George T. Morgan

Issued Date: 1878-1921
Composition: 0.900 parts silver, 0.100-part copper
Diameter: 38.1 mm.
Weight: 412.5 grains
Edge: Reeded
Total Business strike mintage: 656,989,387
Total Proof strike mintage: 23,723

Named after its designer, George Morgan, the Morgan Silver Dollar was the direct result of the Bland-Allison act of February 28, 1878. This legislation restored legal tender status to the silver dollar and required the Treasury to purchase between 2 and 4 million dollars worth of silver each month specifically for coinage into silver dollars. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, while repealing the Bland-Allison Act, called for the purchase of up to 4 million ounces of silver per month. Enough bullion was subsequently purchased to allow production of silver dollars to continue up to 1904. Many new collectors often wonder why many Morgan Dollar dates with original mintages in the millions are very scarce today. This is due mainly to the Pittman Act of 1918 which called for the conversion into bullion of up to 350 million silver dollars. Of the more than 50 million Morgan Silver Dollars produced up to that time, nearly 270 million were melted down. In specific cases – such as the 12,000 1895 Philadelphia business strikes produced and then probably melted down in 1918 – entire mintages were almost completely destroyed.

The obverse depicts Miss Liberty facing left, her hair in a Phrygian cap, and with LIBERTY inscribed on a ribbon or band holding a spray of leaves and sheaves. E PLURIBUS UNUM is above, seven stars are to the left, six stars are to the right, and the date is below. The reverse depicts a wingspread eagle holding a branch and three arrows. IN GOD WE TRUST appears in Old English letters above. Surrounding is the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DOLLAR. Production was continuous at the Philadelphia Mint from 1878 through 1904, after which there was a pause until the single year 1921. Additional pieces were made at San Francisco, Carson City, and New Orleans during the 1878-1904 span and in 1921 at Denver and San Francisco.

Morgan Dollars are considered by many to be the backbone of American numismatics, favored by investors and collectors alike. In today’s quality conscious market the demand for scarce and select pierces has been steady and is expected to continue. Competition for many of the less expensive dates ranging between $1,000 and $3,500 should become especially intense.

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