The Morgan Silver Dollar – A Brief History

No other U. S. silver coin can compare with the rich history enjoyed by the Morgan silver dollar (also known as the Liberty Head silver dollar). Designed by George T. Morgan, the Morgan dollar remains a favorite of both casual and serious coin collectors.

A total of five U. S. Mints were involved in the production of Morgan silver dollars from 1878 through 1921: Carson City; Denver (1921 only); New Orleans; Philadelphia; and San Francisco.

Minting of the Morgan dollar was suspended in 1904 due a government shortage of silver bullion. Only about 8,812,000 (a relatively small mintage) were produced that year. It was another 17 years before another Morgan silver dollar was minted. In 1921, production resumed but later that year the Morgan dollar was replaced by the Peace silver dollar.

The world would be awash in Morgan silver dollars except for two events: 1) the Pittman Act of 1918 permitted the melting of 270,232,722 Morgans for their silver content; and, 2) unknown millions more were turned in and melted when silver reached an all time high of $50.50 per ounce in 1980. So the number of Morgan dollars in existence are far less than the number minted.

The Morgan Silver Dollar – Facts and Details

The Morgan silver dollar features the head of Lady Liberty on the obverse side and a spread-winged eagle on the reverse. Several small variations were made to this coin over its mint life. The mint mark is toward the bottom on the reverse side (just below the ribbon loops). Mint marks are “CC” for Carson City, “D” for Denver, “O” for New Orleans and “S” for the San Francisco Mints. If no mint mark appears, it was minted in Philadelphia.

Morgan silver dollars are 90% silver and 10% copper. Uncirculated Morgans contain .7734 Troy ounces of pure silver (24.0566 grams) with a gross weight of .859 Troy ounces (26.728 grams). Circulated Morgans are considered to contain .7650 Troy ounces of pure silver due to the “wear factor” in handling these coins (sometimes referred to as trade content). Circulated silver coins (including Morgan silver dollars) have been given the unworthy name “junk” silver.

If you are looking for the least expensive way of owning Morgan silver dollars and still get good coins, stay with the circulated grades of Extremely Fine (EF or XF) or About Uncirculated (AU). Uncirculated coins begin with Mint State 60 (MS60) and go to top-of-the-line MS65s. Use caution when investing in MS63 and higher grades – they should be graded and “slabbed” by either NGC or PCGS.

Stay with reputable dealers. And be sure to shop around – don’t buy from the first dealer you find that sells Morgan dollars. Prices can vary widely and you will want to compare prices from several dealers to get the maximum amount of silver for your money.

Disclaimer: I have made every reasonable effort to produce an informative and helpful article on Morgan silver dollars based on my research and experiences. However, I make no representation or warranties of any kind with regard to its completeness, accuracy or suitability for any specific situation or purpose.

Copyright © 2008 Silver Investing Simplified – Morgan Silver Dollars

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