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Morgan Silver Dollars

Morgan Silver Dollars were produced in the United States from 1878 to 1904, and one additional year in 1921. They were named after their designer, George T. Morgan and his monogram appears near the neck of Lady Liberty. Their composition was 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. Read on for more information about the Morgan Silver Dollar.

Morgan Silver Dollars

About Morgan Silver Dollars

The history of the Morgan Silver Dollars in America is interesting. It all started in the late 1850s when silver was discovered in the area of Nevada that is now Virginia City. It was called the Comstock Lode and was the first major discovery of silver and gold. It was announced to the public in 1859 and the rush was on. The silver mines started to decline after 1874.

The strike made silver prices fall worldwide, so in 1878, Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act, which allowed the United States Treasury to buy large amounts of silver to make into coins. For economic reasons, the dollar was chosen as the denomination.

The Morgan dollars were minted until 1904, when there was a high number in circulation and a small amount of silver bullion. In 1918, Congress passed the Pittman Act, which called for 270 million coins to be melted for their silver content. The Morgan Dollar was produced during the year 1921, and was replaced with the Peace Dollar after that.

The Morgan Design

Morgan Silver Dollars feature a portrait of Lady Liberty or Miss Liberty facing to the left with the inscription “E Pluribus Unum”. The back has an image of an eagle with spread wings and holding arrows and an olive branch. The inscriptions on the back are “One Dollar” and “United States of America”. Soon after the coins came out, the design was changed so that the eagle had seven tail feathers instead of eight.

The Morgan Dollar also had a mint mark to show where the coin was struck. The mint mark is found beneath the tail feathers of the eagle between the D and O in the word DOLLAR. If there is no mint mark, then the coin was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The other four US Mints and their mint marks are: D - Denver, Colorado, O - New Orleans, LA, CC - Carson City, Nevada, and S - San Francisco, California.

Valuable Coins

Three of the Morgan dollars are valuable: The 1878 CC, the 1891 CC, and the 1893 S. Here is an estimate of their value that ranges from a coin that has been almost worn out to a mint state coin that is perfect and has never been circulated.

  • 1878 CC = $125 to 30,000
  • 1891 CC = $125 to 38,500
  • 1893 S = $5500 to 1 million

Another valuable Morgan Dollar was recently sold at auction for $575,000. It was an 1895 O and was in mint state condition.

Silver dollars also have value because of the amount of silver they contain. The current melt value of a Morgan Dollar, which is what you would get if the coin is melted down for its silver, is $18.22 as of October 27, 2010.

US Mint Beginnings

The United States began minting coins in 1792. The Coinage Act established the US Mint and it was built in Philadelphia. Gold coins were made in the $10, $5, and $2.50 denominations; silver coins were made into dollars, half dollars, quarters, dimes, and half dimes; and copper coins were made into cents and half cents. The first coin to circulate was the copper cent.

It was determined that all coins would have a symbol of liberty and the word “liberty” on the front and gold and silver coins had an eagle on the back with the words “United States of America.” Since then, there have been many changes in the designs, denominations, and composition of coins.