Morgan Dollars represent one of the most popular series for coin collectors. Designed by George T. Morgan, the silver dollars were issued between the years 1878 and 1921. With a total of 97 different basic date and mint mark combinations, the series offers something for both beginning and experienced collectors. Many issues survive in abundance and even high grade examples can be purchased at affordable prices. A number of lower mintage or coins with low survival rates provide a challenge for experienced collectors or anyone assembling a complete set.
The obverse design features a depiction of Liberty facing left. She wears a cap bearing the word “Liberty” with agricultural elements intertwined. The motto “E Pluribus Unum” appears above with thirteen stars and the date completing the periphery. The reverse design features an eagle with wings outstretched and talons grasping a bundle of arrows and olive branch. An open wreath partially surrounds the eagle with the inscription “In God We Trust” above. The additional inscriptions “United States of America” and “One Dollar” surround with the phrases separated by stars.
During the course of the series, Morgan Dollars were struck in relatively large quantities at five different Mint facilities including Philadelphia, Carson City, Denver, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Several issues have lower mintages, but the impacts of hoards or melting skews the survival rates. The absolute key date coin for the series is the 1893-S Morgan Dollar which had a mintage of 100,000. Unlike some other low mintage issues, no significant hoards have ever appeared on the market keeping the available supply for collectors low.
The most famous hoard to be dispersed was the GSA Morgan Dollar hoard, which was distributed to the public through a series of auctions held in the 1970’s. The accumulation from Treasury vaults included around $3 million worth of Morgan Silver Dollars. The majority of the inventory was comprised of coins produced at the Carson City Mint. For some issues, more than 50% of the original mintage was included in the hoard.
Besides collecting the basic issues, many collectors will venture into collecting the numerous noted varieties and overdates of the series. A comprehensive book on Morgan Dollar varieties was written by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis. Another frequent focus of specialized collectors are Deep Mirror Proof Like Morgan Dollars. These coins were struck for circulation, but feature mirror fields and frosty devices which provide an exceptionally beautiful appearance.
Mint: Philadelphia, Carson City, Denver, New Orleans San Francisco
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Diameter: 38.1 mm
Weight: 26.73 grams
More Information: Morgan Dollar Mintage