Last updated on September 29th, 2023 at 10:18 am
Last Updated on September 29, 2023 Posted by Colonial Acres Coins
The Morgan silver dollar is one of the most popular and collectible of all American coins and has a fascinating history. It was designed by a British-born assistant engraver, minted after the U.S. had moved to the gold standard and required an act of the U.S. Congress to come into being.
Minted during the tumultuous years of America’s Gilded Age, the Morgan silver dollar’s history is intertwined with westward expansion, adventurism, rapid industrialization and political tactics. Discover more about the coin’s history, rarity and collectibility below.
Tracing the Morgan Silver Dollars History
Prior to 1873, silver bullion producers were allowed to bring raw silver to the U.S. Mints and have it turned into legal tender for a small fee. Since the value of silver was often lower than the value of the dollar, silver producers made a tidy profit from this but it soon caused issues with inflation. In reaction, Congress passed The Coinage Act in 1873 which de-monetized silver.
The silver industry began a campaign of political pressure to reinstate the silver dollar and in 1878 Congress passed The Bland-Allison Act. This Act required the United States Mint to purchase silver and turn it into legal tender. This began the Morgan silver dollar history.
A young British engraver named George Morgan was recruited as an assistant engraver for the U.S. Mint by Director Henry Linderman. He was dissatisfied with the work of the current head engravers and hoped to have Morgan design the new coin.
Linderman requested designs for the new coin from both Morgan and his superior, effectively setting up a competition between the two. Ultimately, Linderman chose the young man’s designs and the Morgan silver dollar began production in March of 1878.
A Timeline of the Morgan Silver Dollar
1878 – 1904
The Morgan silver dollar was minted continuously for 26 years. Over 300 million coins were produced at the Philadelphia Mint, bearing no mint marks. Large numbers were produced at the New Orleans mint, bearing an “O” mint mark, and at the San Francisco mint, bearing an “S” mint mark. The Carson City mint produced Morgan dollars for only 13 of the 26 years it was in production, coining under 14 million Morgan dollars with the “CC” mint mark.
1905 – 1920
No Morgan dollars were coined in the years between 1905 and 1920. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1893 required the government to purchase vast amounts of silver and turn it into coins. This led to a large surplus of silver and the devaluation of the coins. After the financial Panic of 1893, President Cleveland led Congress to repeal the Sherman Silver Act. The stores of silver remaining in the treasury were used to mint Morgan silver dollars only until it ran out in 1904.
Under the Pittman Act of 1918, the U.S. melted down nearly 208 million Morgan dollars and sold them at $1 per ounce to the British government to support their war efforts in World War I. The Act required that the melted coins be replaced by newly minted coins and in 1921 the Morgan dollar went back into production for a limited time.
Although the melted coins were nearly all Morgan dollars, less than half of the replacement coins were of the Morgan design. The majority were the new Peace coins that would go on to take the Morgan dollar’s place after 1921.
Building Collections of Morgan Dollars
Several factors impact the U.S. Morgan dollar’s rarity, but none so significant as their mass destruction under the Pittman Act. The scant supply of coins struck at the Carson City Mint also tends to increase the value of Morgan dollars bearing the CC mint mark. You can observe the various rarities of coins by reviewing the websites of premier coin dealers like Colonial Acres Coins.
However, Morgan dollar collectors have developed several unusual and intriguing categories of collections that set the Morgan dollar apart from other coins valued by date and condition alone. Various collectors may curate their sets by these unique criteria:
- Key Date Collections: These collections are made up of Morgan dollars minted in a particular year and location which makes them rare. Some Morgan dollar key dates include 1889-CC, 1893-S and 1895 Proof.
- Toned Sets: These are collectible Morgan dollars that have attained beautiful patinas through oxidation. Rainbow-hued oxidation is highly valued.
- VAM Collections: These collections are the most eclectic and challenging. VAM Morgan dollars are coins that bear individual differences from the norm caused by differences in die strikes and obverse or reverse clashing causing flaws in the coin.
Find the Morgan Silver Dollars at Colonial Acres
Colonial Acres Coins is a premier coin dealer that offers an incredible selection of coins and paper money from around the world and throughout history. Whether you’re a seasoned collector looking to add to your collection or a beginner interested in starting a new hobby, Colonial Acres Coins has everything you need. So, why not look more into the fascinating and rewarding world of coin collecting?
Visit our website today and explore their extensive inventory of Morgan silver dollars, ancient coins, paper currency, and more. Who knows what treasures you might find?