Morgan Silver Dollar

Facts at a Glance

  • The Morgan Silver Dollar, designed by George T. Morgan, was a historic hedge against inflation and the second standard silver dollar produced as currency from 1878-1904.
  • Authorized by the Bland-Allison Act in 1873, the Morgan Dollar ended the free coinage of silver, which had led to inflation, and marked silver’s return to the monetary system.
  • It featured a unique profile of American woman Anna Willess Williams on the obverse, and an eagle with a sword and olive branch on the reverse, with a focus on accuracy and natural representation.
  • The coin represents an interesting moment in U.S. monetary and mining policy as silver overproduction led to the need for tighter control over money design and circulation.
  • The Morgan Dollar also standardized manufacturing practices among various U.S. Mints to meet the demand for this significant coin.
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Description

In its day, the Morgan Silver Dollar was the ultimate hedge against inflation. Designed by U.S. Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan, the Morgan Dollar was the second standard silver dollar produced as currency from 1878-1904.

Authorized by the Bland-Allison Act in 1873, right after the passage of the Fourth Coinage Act, the Morgan Dollar brought an end to free coinage of silver. Before 1873, the Mint was required to accept any silver brought to it and strike it as coinage for a small fee. This flooded the market and caused a serious inflationary cycle.

Eventually Congress required that the U.S. Mint purchase a certain tonnage of silver each month and strike it as trade coin, but this too was ended. Because the value of silver at the time was far less than a dollar, silver miners were making a profit on each coin they had produced. For several years, Congress went back and forth over the issue of silver as money, and this eventually resulted in the minting of the Morgan Dollar in 1878; silver was money once again.

On its obverse side, the Morgan Silver Dollar has the profile of an American woman, Anna Willess Williams, to represent Lady Liberty. Designer George T. Morgan (who worked under Chief Engraver William Barber at the Philadelphia Mint) departed from the previous tradition of choosing an idealized, Greek-style portrait for coinage. Williams sat for Morgan on five occasions, after which he declared her profile the most perfect he’d ever seen.

On the reverse is an eagle with wings spread open, grasping a sword and an olive branch in its talons. Morgan was determined that both sides of the coin be accurate, and obtained multiple studies of the bald eagle in its natural habitat before finalizing his design.

The historic Morgan Silver Dollar represents an interesting moment in U.S. monetary and mining policy. When mines in the western United States began to overproduce silver, there was tremendous pressure to stabilize the production of coins in order to stabilize the value of the dollar. This move, however, highlighted how little Congress understood economics and the impact of banking policy on monetary practices at the time. The coin itself was the beginning of tighter control over both design and circulation of money. Manufacturing practices between the Philadelphia Mint and the Western Mints in San Francisco and Carson City were standardized and forced the designation of other Mints across the country to keep up with demand for the dollar.

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To learn more about the Morgan Silver Dollar and to get current pricing, please call us at (800) 355-2116

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Specifications

Mintage dates: 1878-1904, 1921

Designer: George T. Morgan

Gross weight: 26.73 g

Silver content: 0.77344 troy oz

Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper

Diameter: 38.1 mm

Mint marks: None (Philadelphia), CC (Carson City), S (San Francisco), O (New Orleans), D (Denver)

Please note, Birch Gold’s selection of products rotates over time. To learn more about Morgan Silver Dollars, their availability and current pricing, please call us at (800) 355-2116.

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