The Morgan Silver Dollar was a United States dollar coin that was produced from 1878 to 1904 and then again in 1921. It was the first silver dollar minted after the Coinage Act of 1973 which ended the free coining silver. By the end of 1921, the Morgan version was replaced by the Peace dollar. Overall, more than 600 million Morgan dollars were minted in 96 different date-and-mint combinations and hundreds of millions were melted over the years. Nevertheless, vast amounts of Morgan dollars still piled up in the Treasury’s vaults, as well as in bank vaults nationwide. Subsequently, in the early 1960s, when the price for silver was rising, people started buying large quantities of the coin at face value and the Treasury stopped exchanging silver certificates for the Morgan Dollar. By 1964, only 2.9 million Morgan Dollars were left – most of them of the scarce Carson City variety which were sold by the General Services Administration from 1972 through 1980 at a great profit.
The Morgan Silver Dollar received its name from its engraver George T. Morgan. The obverse side of the Morgan Dollar displays the profile of Lady Liberty, modeled after Anna Willess Williams of Philadelphia, the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM (“One out of many”) and the year of mint. The obverse side features an eagle clasping arrows and an olive branch, the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and IN GOD WE TRUST, as well as the denomination and the mint mark. The reverse side also shows where the coin was minted: Philadelphia (no mint mark), Carson City (CC), San Francisco (S), New Orleans (O) or Denver (D). In 2006, the reverse design was used on a silver dollar issued to commemorate he old San Francisco Mint building.
Although not extremely rare, the 1878 Morgan dollar was actually minted with two slight;y different reverse dies. The first die featured an eagle on the reverse with eight tail feathers. But after some research, the people at the mint realized that the American bald eagle only has seven tail feathers. Therefore they created a new die with a bald eagle with only seven tail feathers.
The Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most popular collector’s coins, if not THE most popular collector’s coin, in the United States. They are revered for their large size and classic look. However, the value of the coins varies significantly depending on condition, mintmark, and year. For example, since there are limited numbers of the Carson City coins because of the smaller mintages of coins that were produced by that branch mint, Morgan Dollar coins with the mintmark CC are highly coveted and sell for a high price.
Morgan Silver Dollars contain 90% silver and 10% copper.