Morgan Silver Dollar

A brief history

Struck between 1878 and 1904, and for one more year in 1921. The Morgan Dollar was minted from silver from the Comstock Lode in Nevada; with a fineness of .900 the Morgan Dollar contains over 24 grams of silver per coin.

The coin was authorized by the Bland-Allison act of 1878, This Act required the Treasury to purchase at market levels, between two million and four million troy ounces of silver bullion every month to be coined into dollars.

Designed by George T. Morgan in 1878, the obverse features a left facing portrait of Miss Liberty, and the reverse depicts an eagle perched upon 3 arrows. Some viewed the image of the eagle as ‘scrawny’, which led some to vilify the coin as a “Buzzard Dollar”.

In 1918 the Pittman act called for over 270 million coins to be melted for silver bullion for sale primarily to Great Britain, the funds were then used to purchase silver from American silver mines, in essence to act as a federal subsidy to the silver mining industry.

The 5 mints

The Morgan dollar was minted in 5 locations including Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans, San Francisco and Carson City. The Carson City mint being the rarest due to the low amount minted at that location.

Four special coins were struck at the Denver Mint in 1921 over a San Francisco Mint die. These are known as the 1921 D over S Morgan dollars.


The Denver mint

Rarities of the series

Three dates/mints are the most difficult versions to find and are therefore the most valuable of the entire Morgan series. This is mainly due to their low mintage figures.

  • 1889 – Carson City (200,346)
  • 1893 – San Francisco (100,000)
  • 1895 – Proof (12,880)

Of these the 1885 proof is one the most valuable coins of the series worth $100,000


In all, over 600 million Morgan Dollars where produced, although many hundreds of millions were melted down, whether it was due to the Pittman act or by private refiners since 1960, when silver prices rose. Due to the small amount used, huge stockpiles remained in bank vaults and treasury vaults nationwide in America. Which explains why so many Morgan Dollars are so well preserved today.

Today the Morgan silver dollar is one of the most collected American coins, with many collectors attempting to amass complete collection by year or mint. The Morgan silver dollar is a fine example of American coinage.


Value: 1 USD

Mass: 26.73 grams

Diameter: 38.1 mm

Thickness: 2.4 mm

Composition: 90.0% silver 10.0% copper

Years of minting: 1878-1904; 1921

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