An Inside Look Into The History Of The Morgan Silver Dollar

Morgan Silver Dollars are the most common and recognizable American coin. It’s not hard to see why the Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most coveted coins in American history. This coin is just as much a part of our cultural heritage as a symbol of American wealth and prosperity. It’s also one of the most popular coins for collectors, who always look for old coins like The Morgan Silver Dollar, including the 1921 dollar coin that has been preserved in pristine condition.

About The Designer

In 1876, Mint Director Henry Linderman began a campaign to redesign the nation’s silver coins. Linderman sought the assistance of Deputy Master of the Royal Mint in London C.W. Fremantle, asking him to find an assistant engraver willing to work at the Philadelphia Mint. In response to Linderman’s request, Fremantle strongly recommends George Morgan for the position of Assistant Engraver. During the six-month trial period, Morgan and Linderman agreed that the engraver would work under Willian Barber, Chief Engraver of the Philadelphia Mint. 

On October 9, 1876, Morgan arrived in Philadelphia. He designed his first pattern coins at the Philadelphia Mint for half dollars. To create a new Liberty head design, Morgan enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1876. As preparation for reserve design, Morgan consulted nature to obtain studies of the bald eagle. Morgan preferred an American rather than a Greek-style representation for the Liberty image.

While attending the Academy, Morgan struggled to find a model who would meet his artistic vision. He finally found one through an acquaintance and fellow artist. The young woman (later identified as Anna W. Williams) posed for Morgan.

The Morgan Silver Dollar 

Morgan Silver Dollars were struck at five different mints (San Francisco, Carson City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Denver). Because of the Comstock Lode in 1859, silver entered the market in massive quantities. They halted silver coin production in 1873 due to declining prices, but the Bland-Allison Act reinstated silver production in 1878 as legal tender and implied that the government would produce two million silver dollars each month.

The Morgan Silver Dollar was first minted in 1878 and became immensely popular because of its beautiful design and high silver content (90%). It features a portrait of Liberty modeled by Anna Willess Williams on the obverse and an eagle with wings outstretched on the reverse. A mint mark appears between the letters D and O in “Dollar” on the reverse.

They were made from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921. Silver supply reached an all-time low in the early 1900s because of the Comstock Lode’s exhaustion, which briefly ended the silver dollar coinage era. People were already familiar with using paper money during this time because large silver coins were too heavy to carry.

The Pittman Act finally restored the government’s silver bullion reserves in 1918. In total, over 270,000,000 Morgan Silver Dollars were melted. As a result of that same act, the 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar was produced and minted to replace melted dollars. The Peace Dollar took over after changing the guards later that year.

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