What is a Morgan Silver Dollar?

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

    The Morgan Silver Dollar was a United States dollar coin minted from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921. There were millions of morgan silver dollars minted at several mints around the country. It quickly became one of the most popular coins thanks to its design. 

    George T. Morgan was an established engraver for the Royal Mint in England. He attended the Birmingham Art School and the South Kensington Art School. After his studies, he started his own engraving business in London and later became an engraver at the Royal Mint. Leonard Charles Wyon, a notable British engraver, taught Morgan and helped further his engraving skills. In 1876, Henry R. Linderman, the Director of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, contacted the Royal Mint, looking for an engraver to work as the U.S. Mint’s Assistant Engraver. Morgan was recommended as the best candidate. After a review of his work, Morgan was offered the position, which he accepted.


    Morgan began creating designs for the Silver Dollar. At the time, the Coinage Act of 1873 ceased the production of silver coins due to a decrease in silver value. Despite this act, the U.S. Mint knew that a design would be needed when silver coin production started up again. In February of the same year, 1873, Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act. Silver coins once again became a legal currency.

    The Morgan Dollar was minted from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921. The coin was minted at the following U.S. Mint facilities: Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, and Denver. The Morgan Dollar is a beautiful coin. The obverse side depicts a Lady Liberty with a cap that reads, “Liberty” along with two cotton blossoms and two heads of wheat. There are also thirteen stars representing the thirteen colonies along with “E Pluribus Unum”, which is Latin for “out of many, one” (U.S. motto). The reverse side depicts the heraldic eagle with wings spread, holding an olive branch and arrows. The motto, “In God We Trust”, appears above the eagle.  A wreath outlines the bottom half of the coin; below the wreath is the mintmark.


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