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coinfodder's Blog

12 Apr 2021

THE BIG AND BOLD STORY OF THE MORGAN DOLLAR

National Coin Week | coinfodder

In typical coinfodder fashion, whenever I hear the word "FREE COINS", I go wild. Then I read the fine print and realize I have to write something to get them. Well then.


Our story begins with the miners of Virginia City, Nevada. These men worked the mine nearby. The mine was the legendary COMSTOCK LODE. These miners (plus Chinese Immigrants) worked day in and day out to mine for silver and sometimes, at little gold as well. Silver was first found here in the Spring of 1850. Pandemonium soon struck the area as many people came to the area to strike it rich, in a period known as the Ophir bonanza, which lasted until 1864. Five bonanzas soon followed, with many settlers settling in the area to strike it rich.


But what to do with that silver? The silver dollar (Gobrecht and Seated Liberty) was seldom struck.


Enter miners' unions and other miners, advocating for miners and free silver. Free silver was killed by the Bland-Allison Act in 1873, and under free silver, the US Mint would be forced to accept all of the silver, strike it into dollars, and return it to the miners. The miners like the idea of free silver. Instead of Free Silver, under the Bland-Allison act, the Treasury would be forced to purchase two and four million dollars' worth of silver at FMV (Fair Market Value) to turn into coinage every month. This would disadvantage the miners, but they only take the little advantage they were given. And so, begins the saga of one of the greatest coin designs in history.


In 1876, while politicians and miners were haggling for the fate of silver dollar coinage, Director of the Mint Henry Linderman began efforts to redesign the silver coins. Linderman contacted Master of the Royal Mint ALL THE WAY across the pond, C.W. Freemantle, requesting a "first class die-sinker who would be willing to take the position of Assistant Engraver in Philadelphia." The man was a Mr. George Morgan, age 30. He began to create patterns for silver coins, but on October 18th, 1877, Linderman requested Superintendent of the Philly Mint James Pollock to "instruction Mr. Morgan to prepare without delay, dies for a silver dollar, the designs, inscriptions, and arrangement thereof to be the same as the enclosed impression for the half dollar and numbered "2" substituting the words 'one dollar' in place of 'half dollar'." Morgan used his model of schoolteacher Anna Willess Williams on his Pattern half dollar, and used that, with a revised reverse, for the die, partially designed by William Barber.


Once production commenced on March 11th, 1878 at 3:17 PM, the first Morgan dollar rolled off the press and into the hands of President Rutherford B. Hayes. With most of the silver in the west, dies were soon shipped to the Carson City and San Francisco Mints on April 16th, 1878. The next year, the New Orleans Mint began to strike the dollars. The Morgan dollar was forged by the Silver Miners, and they got what they wanted- a reliable source of income.


Then, in 1893, disaster.


John Sherman, senator from Ohio, forced the Treasury to increase the amount of silver purchased to 4,500,000, hoping that the inflation that resulted would relieve the farmers. According to the act, the mint was required to coin 2,000,000 silver dollars. Since the treasury already had a surplus of dollars, mintage declined to an all-time low in 1895, where the proof only 1895-P had a mintage of just over 800, becoming one of the rarest coins in the US and a heralded piece of US History. In 1898, Congress ordered the remaining silver bars made into silver dollars. This supply was exhausted in 1904, and Morgan Dollar production ceased.


Our saga resumes at the desk of US Senator Key Pittman, a Democrat. He proposed something that looked a tad like FDR's Lend-Lease act, albeit without the Sherman Tanks and Tommy Guns. At the time, Germany under the Kaiser and the British government had a knife at each other's throats, in war and in the market. The Germans were convincing Indian Citizens that British banknotes in that colony could not be traded in for a FMA worth of silver. This led to crisis. As an ally, Pittman helped the US pass a bill that would "sales of silver bullion under authority of this act may be made for the purpose of conserving the existing stock of gold in the US, of providing silver...and of assisting foreign government at war with the enemies of the United States." The bill was signed by President Wilson on April 22nd, 2021. They needed to now process the silver, and the victim- Morgan Dollars. Many were sent to the melter and turned into silver. The silver would be sent to India and Britain. The final count- 270,232,722 Morgan and Gobrecht dollars.


The US, Britain, and its allies would beat Germany and the Austrian-Hungary empire in embarrassing fashion, with Italy kicking the Austro-Hungarians at Vittorio-Veneto, the French defeating the Ottomans at Meddigo, and the Germans being shattered by the Allies at Amiens. To celebrate, the US Treasury prepared a silver dollar, which would be Anthony Di Francisci's Peace Dollar, which gives me a nightmare. To prepare the nation, the mint began to strike Morgan's for the first time since 1904, including the only "D" struck Morgan's. As the original dies were destroyed after production, like all dies go after they wear, a low relief set of dies were created. They had struck over 200 million in Silver Dollars before the Peace Dollar was started.



There are saga ends...


...until 1962.


A new member randomly enters the saga, like any horrible sit-com or the Star Wars Sequel trilogy. The $1 Silver Certificate, with the painful looking portrait of our boy George on it. The idea was that if you traded these in, you would get face value in silver back. That year, an individual caused one of the greatest coups in coin collecting by receiving a rare Morgan Dollar from the Teller at the US Treasury. This caused wide-spread pandemonium, with people arriving with wheelbarrows as Mint Employee's uncovered untouched bag after bag of silver dollars, including the heralded 1903-O Morgan. Then, bag after bag of CC (Carson City) minted Morgan's were uncovered. And the people went nuts. On May 12th. 1969, the Joint Commission on Coinage decided to specially package these dollars and run a mail bid sale. Seven sales later, and in 1980, all the dollars were gone, with it, rolled in $107 Million in revenue.

And it finally ends, but people and numismatists still remember the dollar today. In 2006, a set of coins were released to commemorate the Old Mint building in San Francisco, with the reverse featuring the reverse of the old Morgan.


And coming, this May 2021, the US Mint will be debuting a set of Morgan dollars, struck in 2021, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Morgan and Peace dollars.


We remember the Morgan, not in the many albums, but in the hearts and souls of boxes, and adults, who remember these coins being tossed around in commerce.


Thank you.



Please ask Numimaster (Preston) for link. I have been providing the editing Link.


Link to Centsearcher's Loupe Newsletter. On his behalf, I am asking for subscribers. It is completely free. -www.numismastery.weebly.com


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Comments

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 5

Very nice history lesson. Great details in the blog.

Kepi

Level 6

Nice research! Enjoyed it very much! ; )

Golfer

Level 5

Nice blog. I like the Morgans.

C.D. Harrell

Level 4

The gentlemen pictured in the cover photo have excellent mustaches.

walking liberty

Level 4

Nice job rick rolling the whole coin community, LOL that is a very interesting blog!

TheNumisMaster

Level 5

1) I feel rickrolled. 2) Great blog, I can really tell that you did your research. Good work sharing about Morgan dollars in unequaled detail. I really appreciated this, and learned a lot! -NM

Mike

Level 7

Thanks for your reaserch! It pays of. I wish Morgan had choose another model.!! Good blog!! I enjoyed it.

user_15275

Level 2

Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give you Up Trying to rickroll us lol

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