Morgan Silver Dollars Overview
- Contains by .77344 troy ounces of silver
- Face value: one dollar
- Produced by the U.S. Mint
- Designed by George T. Morgan
The obverse side of Morgan Silver Dollars features a left profile view of Lady Liberty. Instead of taking the approach of featuring Lady Liberty as a classic Greek woman, the coin’s designer, George Morgan, based his Liberty on an American woman. Lady Liberty’s profile is complemented by her elegant coif. Each of her tresses appears intricately styled. A coronet adorns her head and is engraved with the word “liberty.” Other engravings on the obverse side of the coin include the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” and the year of minting. Encircling Lady Liberty are thirteen engraved stars that represent the thirteen original American Colonies.
The reverse side of the Morgan Silver Dollar depicts an American bald eagle with outspread wings. The eagle is holding a clutch of arrows and an olive branch in its talons. Engravings on the reverse side of the coin include that national motto, “In God We Trust;” the nation of issue, “The United States of America;” and the coin’s value, “one dollar.”
The History of Morgan Silver Dollars
Before 1873, Americans brought their silver stores to the United States Treasury Department to be coined into silver dollars. Free coining, however, was halted with the Coinage Act of 1873. The end of free coining also meant the end of the Seated Liberty Dollar design that adorned American silver dollars prior to 1873. With the passage of the Bland-Alison Act, which required the government to once again produce silver coins, the first of the Morgan Silver Dollars were produced at the Philadelphia Mint.
Morgan Silver Dollars created a tremendous stir in the 1870s when they were released, but the stir was not merely due to their great artistry. When initially questioned, George T. Morgan said he based his design for Lady Liberty on a statue in Philadelphia. However, it was soon discovered that the engraver actually engaged a model who happened to be a school teacher. When it was revealed that this teacher was Anna Williams, she was fired for what in those days was considered immoral behavior. Modeling was not considered to be an appropriate pursuit for a school teacher or woman of polite society.
Morgan Silver Dollars: The Minted Years
Until 1890, the Morgan Dollar remained steady. At that point, the Sherman Act was passed, which mandated that the U.S. Treasury increase its purchase of silver. The increase in silver was meant to cause an increase in inflation, which was seen as a relief for farmers of the time period. Although minting of the Morgan Dollar continued along with other coins like dimes, quarters, and half dollars, the inflation associated with the Sherman Act led to an economic panic in 1893. Owing to the panic, the Sherman Act was repealed. Morgan Dollars would only continue to be minted until the bullion purchased by the U.S. Treasury ran out. In 1921, the Morgan Silver Dollar was brought back once again for a last curtain call.
More about the Morgan Silver Dollar
One of the most popular American coins, the Morgan Silver Dollar was not only revered for its renowned artistry, but also for its association with the Wild West. Morgan Silver Dollars were minted with silver mined from the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada. This silver strike remains one of the most famous and largest in American history. Collectors also admire the Morgan Silver Dollar because of its large size and the large amount of silver it’s minted with.
In all, roughly 657 million Morgan silver dollars were produced. While millions of these coins were melted by the U.S. government due to the Pittman Act and Silver Act of 1942, man still remain in private collections and silver dealers around the country.
Collecting Morgan Silver Dollars
As Morgan Silver Dollars age, they continue to increase in value, especially coins that remain in exceptional condition. Their high silver content and exceptional design artistry make them popular with collectors in America as well as abroad. High-quality coins in excellent condition can still be found on the market today. Morgan Silver Dollars in cull condition can also be found, and these make excellent additions to coin collections as well as fine additions to starter collections. Because of their popularity, it’s always a smart investment to procure Morgan Silver Dollars when you can.