Morgan Silver Dollar Coins
These are the most collected coins in America. The Morgan Silver Dollar values vary tremendously depending on their condition, year of issue and the mint mark. Many people collect Morgans by date, mint mark or condition but the Morgan Dollar is the only silver US coin to be produced at five different mints. Over the years Morgan Silver Dollars were struck at Philadelphia, New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco and Carson City Mint between 1878 and 1904 plus a final year of production in 1921.
Years Minted The Morgan Silver Dollar was produced at the following five mints.
1878 to 1899 Philadelphia – New Orleans – San Francisco – Carson City
1900 to 1904 Philadelphia – New Orleans – San Francisco
1921 Philadelphia – San Francisco – Denver
The Morgans mint marks (except Philadelphia) are shown on the reverse of the coin just below the wreath. The mint marks are New Orleans = O, San Francisco = S, Carson City = CC and Denver = D. The Morgans do not have a mint mark on coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
The Morgan Dollars are made from 90% pure silver and 10% copper to give them more durability. They are a large coin, 38.1mm (1.5 inches) in diameter and weigh 26.73 g (.77344 oz) which is over ¾ of a troy ounce of pure silver. To create a full collection of the Morgan Silver Dollars with one of each year and one of each mint mark it would require a total of 106 individual coins.
The Morgan Dollar was designed George T. Morgan from England, who was previously an engraver at the Royal Mint in London. He was recommended to the US Mint in Philadelphia who employed Morgan in 1876 as a special engraver for $8 per day. Morgan first designed the Half Dollar in 1877 and then enlarged the design to create the Silver Dollar in 1878.
The Morgan Dollar obverse design shows a left facing portrait of Lady Liberty wearing a headpiece with the word “Liberty” across the ribbon. To symbolize the agricultural heritage of the United States, wheat and cotton are included in the headpiece of Liberty. Surrounding Lady Liberty are thirteen stars representing the original colonies, the Latin words “E Pluribus Unum” meaning “One from many” and below Lady Liberty is the year of issue.
The reverse design of the Morgan is dominated by an American Eagle with both wings fully stretched out, grasping arrows and an olive branch in its claws. The American Eagle is encircled by a Laurel wreath and the inscription “In God We Trust”. This entire design is surrounded with the words “United States Of America * One Dollar *”. The mint mark can be found just below the Laurel Wreath.
George T. Morgan left his mark on both sides of the Silver Dollar. On the obverse at the base of Lady Liberty’s neck it is possible to see the initial “M” and on the reverse you might be able to see his minute initial on the ribbon which ties the wreath together.
Morgans were produced in large quantities every year between 1878 and 1904 until the supply of silver bullion ran dry. During this era many Americans chose to carry paper money instead of the heavy Morgan Dollars so many of these coins were redundant and just kept in the vaults of banks and the US Treasury.
In 1918 Congress passed an act to restock the governments silver bullion reserves by sending millions of Morgan Silver Dollars to be melted down. The US Treasury Departments vaults were emptied of more than 270 million Morgans which were melted into bullion bars. This act destroyed almost half of the Morgan Dollars ever produced up to that date.