The Morgan Silver Dollar: The Story of America’s Most Iconic Coin
The Morgan Silver Dollar was born amid 19th Century economic and political conflict over whether the United States’ economy would have as a basis a “Gold Standard” or a bi-metallic economy based upon both gold and silver. “Free Silverites” and agrarian Populists wanted an inflationary silver-based means of exchange, which would make their debt repayment easier, while Eastern business and banking interests wanted a stable gold-based currency.
The Bland-Allison Act (1878) birthed the Morgan Silver Dollar, benefiting both Western silver mining interests and “Free Silverite”/Populist interests.
The Morgan Silver Dollar especially benefited Western states’ (where silver dollars often circulated in preference to paper currency into the 1960s) agrarian interests and silver mining interests. Although the economic circulation of the Morgan Dollar was light (except in Western states), it represented an attempt to politically and economically placate groups in U. S. society seeking a silver-based, potentially inflationary means of exchange.
Design and Characteristics of the Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan Silver Dollar Obverse And Reverse Design
George Morgan immigrated to the U. S. from England to work as Assistant Engraver at the U. S. Mint. Through mutual friends, Miss Anna Williams (a Philadelphia kindergarten teacher) posed as Miss Liberty for the Morgan Dollar Obverse.
Encircled by thirteen stars for the original thirteen colonies and “E Pluribus Unum” (“out of many, one), Miss Liberty wears a headband declaring “Liberty” and wears the “Phrygian Cap” (given to freed slaves in Classical Rome) symbolizing the freedom of thought. Cotton bolls and leaves, symbolizing the agricultural bounty of the U. S., adorn Liberty’s hair.
The Morgan Dollar reverse portrays the American Eagle, wings majestically spread. In his right talons is an olive branch, symbolizing the peace which the U. S. would prefer; in his left talons are arrows representing a readiness to go to war if necessary.
The denomination one dollar, the issuing country (the United States of America), “In God We Trust,” and a wreath like those awarded to winners in the Classical Greek Olympic Games surround the Eagle. Any Branch Mint mintmark (“S” for San Francisco, “O” for New Orleans, “CC” for Carson City, or “D” for Denver) is shown below the bow in the wreath. The absence of a mintmark indicates that the dollar was made at the Philadelphia Mint.
The Different Variations of The Morgan Silver Dollar
Variations in the Morgan Dollar exist for 1878 based upon the number of tailfeathers shown on the Eagle–7, 8, or 7 over 8. Other variations include “over-mintmarks,” such as the 1882-O/S, or variations based upon whether the eagle is represented with a concave or a convex breast on 1879 coins.
Related: 1896 Silver Dollar Value
There are literally hundreds of other die varieties identified throughout the Morgan Dollar series (1878-1904 and again in 1921) primarily by the exhaustive studies of Leroy Van Allen and George Mallis first undertaken in the 1970s.
The Specifications And Weight of The Morgan Dollar
The Morgan Dollar is 38.1 mm. In diameter, and contains 90% silver (.7734 Troy Oz.) and 10% copper (.0859 Troy Oz.)
Production and Mintage
The Mintage of The Morgan Silver Dollar
The mintage of the Morgan Dollar from 1878-1904 and again in 1921 was enormous! About 657 million Morgan Dollars were minted in total!
The Different Mints That Produced The Coin
The Morgan Dollar was minted at the Philadelphia Mint, and at branch mints in San Francisco, New Orleans, Carson City, and Denver.
Morgan Silver Dollar Value
The value of any Morgan Dollar starts at $20 due to its silver content of .7743 and widespread demand, while the numismatic condition, based on the Sheldon Scale, significantly affects its worth. The highest recorded value is $2,086,875 for the finest known 1893-S Morgan Dollar (PCGS MS67/CAC-endorsed) from the Jack Lee Collection.
The numismatic condition of an uncleaned, “problem-free” Morgan Dollar can add substantially to its value. Numismatic condition is based upon the 70-point Sheldon Scale, with a Mint-State (MS) 70 coin representing “a perfect coin” down to a grade of Poor-1 (barely recognizable as a Morgan Dollar due to circulation wear).
Among the “key dates” in the 96 coin series (not counting varieties) are the following, with this IMPORTANT note!
Due to the number of counterfeits appearing in great numbers in today’s coin market, one should only buy these dates/Mints authenticated and graded by one of the four top third-party grading services–PCGS, NGC, CACG, and ANACS–UNLESS one is skilled enough at authentication and grading of Morgan Dollars to feel absolutely confident in evaluating uncertified Morgan Dollars!
The different mintmarks and years
Morgan Dollars were made from 1878 through 1904 and again in 1921 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, Carson City, and Denver Mints.
The Rarest And Most Valuable Morgan Silver Dollars
This list can vary considerably, depending upon the Morgan Dollar’s Sheldon Scale condition and whether authenticated and graded by PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS. But the coins listed below are generally accepted as relatively rare and desirable in almost any grade, especially when authenticated as original, “problem-free” coins.
Related: 1884 Silver Dollar Value
The Key Dates And Varieties To Look For
“Key dates” in the Morgan Silver Dollar series can be expanded to include
- Any genuine, original Carson City Mint Dollar (1878-1885 and 1889-1893)
- Many of the mid-1880 to 1904 San Francisco Mint Morgan Dollars
Morgan Dollar die varieties were categorized by Leroy Van Allen and George Mallis beginning in the 1970s. Over 260 “VAMS” have been recognized by Morgan Dollar numismatists, with the 50 and 100 most popular VAMS identified by Michael Fey et al. This is a complicated area, requiring substantial study/knowledge on the part of the individual in order to collect/invest effectively.
1921 Morgan Silver Dollar
1921 Morgan Silver Dollar History, Rarity And Mintage
The 1921 Morgan Dollar is the most common Morgan Dollar in the series. 44,690,000 were made at the Philadelphia Mint, 20,345,000 at Denver, and 21,695,000 at San Francisco for a total mintage of 86,300,000. Many have survived to the present time, making any circulated 1921 Morgan Dollar’s value heavily dependent on the commodity price of silver. Currently, somewhere around $20 would be a reasonable price for a circulated 1921 Morgan.
So many Morgan Dollars were made in 1921 because the 1918 Pittman Act had led to the melting of over 270,000,000 Morgan Dollars. To have sufficient “backing” for silver certificates after the Pittman meltings, the 1921 Morgan Dollar came into being.
1921 Morgan Silver Dollar Value
A circulated 1921 Morgan Dollar is worth approximately $20 due to its silver content. However, high-grade 1921 Morgan Dollars authenticated by renowned organizations like PCGS or NGC, with grades of MS66 or MS67, can be valued at hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but these coins are rare.
For example, PCGS has only graded 26 MS67 1921 Philadelphia Morgan Dollars, 20 MS67 1921 Denver Morgan Dollars, and no MS67 1921 San Francisco Morgan Dollars.
2021 Morgan Silver Dollar
2021 Morgan Silver Dollar History, Rarity And Mintage
Created nominally to honor the 100th anniversary of the cessation of Morgan Dollar mintage in 1921, 173,875 2021 Morgan Dollars were issued with no “privy marks” by the U. S. Mint.
A “CC Privy mark” acknowledging the Carson City Mint (which of course had issued no silver dollars in 1921) was added to 173,444 2021 Morgan Dollars, and an “O privy mark” acknowledging the New Orleans Mint (which of course had issued no silver dollars in 1921) was added to another 173,102 2021 Morgan Dollars. In addition, 174,093 2021-S Morgan Dollars were issued, as well as 173,730 2021-D Morgan Dollars. As well, a 2021 Peace Dollar (mintage 198,772) was issued.
Considering that all these coins contain .858 Troy oz. of silver and cost the purchaser $85 each from the Mint (when silver had a commodity exchange price around $25/oz.), the U. S. Mint made a nice seigniorage profit on these coins!
2021 Morgan Silver Dollar Value
Current wholesale values posted in “The Coin Dealer Newsletter” are:
- 2021 Morgan–$90
- 2021-CC Morgan–$165
- 2021-O Morgan–$90
- 2021-D Morgan–$90
- 2021-S Morgan–$95
Other Morgan Silver Dollar Significant Dates
1879, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1885, 1887, 1889
There is minimal significance to these listed Philadelphia Mint dates unless they are authenticated and graded at MS63 or above by PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS, in which case they will have a wholesale value of around $100, or more in higher grades.
All of the above dates (except 1887) saw Morgan Dollars minted in Carson City. Due to the popularity of that “Wild West” Mint, CC Morgan Dollars in almost any grade are worth significantly more than their Philadelphia Mint counterparts.
Related: 1880 Silver Dollar Value
Depending upon their third-party authenticated and graded condition, San Francisco Mint coins from (especially) 1883, 1885, 1887, and 1889 can also have greater value than Philadelphia Mint Morgans from those years. The same is true for (especially) 1887-O and 1889-O Morgan Dollars graded at MS64 and higher by PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS.
Historical Significance of the Morgan Silver Dollar
The use of the Morgan Silver Dollar in commerce
Other than in Western States such as Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, etc. The Morgan Dollar was minimally used in commerce. This (along with the prodigious quantities minted for political reasons) explains why today’s collectors and investors have so many high-grade uncirculated Morgan Dollars available to them.
Its Role in American Politics And Economics
The Morgan Dollar emerged in 1878 as a result of the Bland-Allison Act. This Act resumed the minting of silver dollars, which had been halted in 1873. Additionally, this Act required the purchase of between $2 million and $4 million dollars worth of silver each month, with that silver to be coined into silver dollars.
This was followed in 1890 by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, increasing government monthly purchases of silver by 50%. Both Acts were responses to the “Free Silver” movement and to agrarian/Populist/Western silver mining interests interested in promoting an inflationary currency to make debt repayment easier while benefiting the silver mining industry.
The Impact Of The Coin On American Culture
Especially in western states and among “hard money” advocates, the size, heft, and precious metal content of a silver dollar were seen as desired characteristics of “real money.” The silver dollar as a response to “Free Silverites”/Populists, etc. also added to some of the public perception of the importance of this coin.
Controversies And Scandals Of The Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan Silver Dollar Hoard
The GSA (General Services Administration) administered the sale of nearly three million silver dollars (95% of them minted in Carson City) beginning in 1972 and going until 1980. Due to skillful marketing, demand for these “Wild West” silver dollars “that Jesse James didn’t get” increased demand–and values–for CC Morgan Dollars which have continued to the present day.
The Pittman Act And Its Impact On The Coin’s Production
The 1918 Pittman Act authorized the melting of 270+ million silver dollars, primarily to provide silver to our WWI ally Great Britain. The impact of the Pittman Act on production of silver dollars is seen in the subsequent minting of 867,300,000 1921 Morgan Dollars. To have sufficient “backing” for silver certificates after the Pittman meltings, the 1921 Morgan Dollar came into being in prodigious quantity.
The Theft Of The 1964-D Morgan Silver Dollar
No 1964-D Morgan Dollars whatsoever were ever minted, although preliminary galvanos and master hubs had been created in case the Mint would be authorized to mint them. There was a 1964-D Peace Dollar minted. All were subsequently to have been melted. This is a somewhat controversial topic to this day.
Initially authorized to be minted in quantity (over 316,000) by the Denver Mint, the 1964-D Peace Dollar was ordered to be melted before its release. It is rumored that “some” escaped melting either as “presentation pieces” or were taken by Denver Mint employees after substituting silver dollars of other dates for “some” 1964-D Peace Dollars.
I personally have heard “second-hand” from a reliable source that a well-known coin dealer and former American Numismatic Association official claimed to have seen two 1964-D Peace Dollars in the possession of a retired Denver Mint worker who had moved to the East Coast.
Since this coin (if it exists) has been declared the property of the U. S. Government and illegal for citizens to own, if these two or any others do exist, they will certainly never be publicly marketed due to their certain subsequent confiscation.
Collecting And Investing In The Morgan Silver Dollar
The Popularity Of Morgan Silver Dollar Collecting
It is quite likely that Morgan Dollars have supplanted Lincoln Cents as the most widely collected U. S. coin series. The survival of a large percentage of the many Morgan Dollars minted, often in uncirculated condition, has made an abundant supply of them available for collectors. The presence of .7734 Troy oz. of silver in each Morgan Dollar has added to the coin’s appeal, as has its size and “heft.”
The association of Carson City Morgan Dollars with “the Old West” has made CC dollars a widely collected Morgan Dollar “subset,” and has often led to CC Dollar collectors branching out into the collecting of other Morgan Dollars.
How To Collect And Grade Morgan Silver Dollars
The collecting of Morgan Dollars can be undertaken according to the desires of each individual collector. Some will pursue complete sets; some seek “date sets,” which have one example of each date, but not every Mint; some will specialize in VAM varieties; etc., etc.
The grading of Morgan Dollars (or any other collectible coin) has certain specific requirements for each grade, but will always involve some degree of subjectivity. The grading scale used for Morgan Dollars (and other collectible coins) is the 70 point Sheldon Scale. In this universally employed numismatic grading scale, MS70 (“Mint State 70) refers to a “perfect coin,” which has the characteristics of a coin immediately after it was minted, with no flaws of any kind (no Morgan Dollar currently exists with this grade, nor are any likely to exist).
“Poor 1” is a Morgan Dollar so worn from circulation that it is barely identifiable as a Morgan Dollar. Other than perhaps for very expensive “key dates,” most collectors try to collect Morgan Dollars which grade VF20 (“Very Fine 20”) and higher, depending upon the coin’s cost and the collector’s coin budget.
Two excellent grading guides available to the collector are The American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins , edited by Ken Bressett, and Making The Grade: Comprehensive Grading Guide for U. S. Coins by Beth Deisher and William Gibbs.
Let’s look at some of the commonly collected Morgan Dollar Grade Characteristics, as excerpted–and summarized– from The American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins:
VF20 [Very Fine 20]–smooth spots from circulation wear visible in hair, on cotton leaves, and wheat grains. Lines between eagle’s feathers complete; most feathers on breast and head of eagle worn smooth.
EF45 [Extra Fine 45]–Liberty’s cheek shows faint wear, as does Liberty’s hair over her ear, hair above her forehead, and hair above date. Eagle’s breast lightly worn. Half of the original mint luster still visible.
MS63 [Mint State 63]–A fully mint state coin with no signs of circulation wear, but noticeable contact marks/blemishes/[often] impaired luster.
The Investment Potential Of The Coin
The investment potential of common date circulated Morgan Dollars correlates strongly with the commodity exchanges’ price of silver, but they do carry some degree of numismatic premium as well. “Key Date” Morgan Dollars, and common date Morgan Dollars in high uncirculated grades (MS65 and above) as authenticated and graded by PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS, have shown steady investment value for some decades, due to the large number of collectors/investors who have come to appreciate and seek out Morgan Dollars.
Morgan Silver Dollar Sets
The Different Morgan Silver Dollar Sets
The individual collector/investor should feel free to choose a Morgan Dollar set that meets his/her budget and interests. Some possibilities are: working on a complete date and Mint set; working on a year “type set,” seeking one example of each year that Morgan Dollars were made; completing a set representing all the dates minted by one of the Mints which made Morgan Dollars for some years (Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, or Carson City); etc.
The Significance Of The Sets In Collecting
Significance is attached to his/her set by each collector/investor. Sets are rarely sold as such–individual coins from the set are typically sold separately.
How To Complete a Morgan Silver Dollar Set?
Buy the best coins you can afford, preferably after first learning about individual dates/Mints of Morgan Dollars from books; with advice from a “coin mentor;” by seeing as many Morgan Dollars of various grades at auction lot viewings, on Internet auctions, from a reliable and trustworthy coin dealer; etc.
Due to the increasing prevalence of (Chinese) counterfeits in the U. S. coin market in particular, buying expensive Morgan Dollars that are NOT authenticated and graded by PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS, at “estate sales,” on Craigslist, at pawn shops, on eBay, etc. is taking an increasingly risky chance of buying a counterfeit/an overgraded coin/a cleaned or otherwise a “problem coin,” etc.
Preservation and Care
How To Store And Protect Your Morgan Silver Dollars
Either a secure home safe (bolted to the floor or to a wall 2” X 4”) or a bank safe deposit box are prudent repositories for one’s Morgan Silver Dollar collection. Housed in a coin album that provides minimal to no contact with cardboard or other materials containing sulfur (because sulfur causes silver coins to “tone” over time, sometimes attractively, sometimes not) can provide safe storage.
Coin “flips” made of an archival non-polyvinyl chloride material can also be safe.A small bag of silica gel crystals (which remove excess humidity and can be renewed when saturated) placed in a safe or safe deposit box can also be protective of Morgan Silver Dollars.
Tips For Cleaning And Maintaining Your Coins
NEVER, EVER clean your Morgan Dollars (or, for that matter, any other coin likely to be worth more than face value) in any way, with anything, at any time!! You are very likely to remove ½ to ⅔ of the value of any rare coin (along with its originality) by cleaning it!
“Maintaining” your coins by storing them in an environment of steady temperature and low humidity (see above re: home safes/safe deposit boxes, etc.) where your coins are free from contact with sulfur-containing materials such as cardboard, cloth, etc. should be done. Third-party grading company (PCGS, NGC, CACG, ANACS) “slabs,” while not air-tight, are generally safe and protective means of storage.
How To Avoid Damaging Your Morgan Silver Dollars
When not in third-party grading company “slabs” or archival-material “flips,” your Morgan Silver Dollars should be handled only by holding the coins’ rims, due to skin oil and other possible contaminants on your hands reacting negatively over time with the silver in your Morgan Dollars.
Morgan Silver Dollar Authentication And Grading
The Importance Of Authentication And Grading
As counterfeits proliferate in the U. S. market, buying unauthenticated, uncertified coin “great deals” from estate sales, pawn shops, Craigslist, eBay, (small, local) auctions, etc. is becoming more and more similar to playing “Russian Roulette.” Do either one often enough and long enough, and you are likely to end up very, very sorry.
Grading coins is best learned by the individual, through examining as many coins as possible in the coin series one wants to collect; by learning from “coin mentors” and a local coin club; by finding a trustworthy coin dealer; by “buying the book before the coin” that shows how to grade coins, etc.; and by attending coin grading classes offered by the American Numismatic Association.
How To Determine The Authenticity Of a Morgan Silver Dollar?
Buying third-party authenticated coins from PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS gives one a lifetime guarantee of authenticity offered by each of these grading services. Viewing as many coins as possible in the series you want to collect helps you to sense, with many counterfeits, that “something doesn’t look right” about the fake coin.
Getting a “second opinion” BEFORE buying an uncertified coin can help. Dealing with a coin dealer who is an American Numismatic Association member or a Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) member supports the authenticity of a coin purchased from that dealer.
The Different Grading Systems
There currently is just one grading system universally used in U. S. Numismatics–the 70 point Sheldon Scale, where Mint State 70 represents “a perfect coin,” its condition exactly as it left the dies when struck at one of the U. S. Mints, and Poor 1 representing a coin that is so worn from circulation as to be barely identifiable. Sheldon Grade Numbers between 70 and 1 are used to describe coins with different degrees of circulation wear, etc.
NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) has recently developed a 1-10 grading scale expressed in Roman Numerals between I and X. This grading scale is currently being used by NGC on modern/bullion-related coins. It is too soon to tell if this “new” grading scale will find widespread acceptance, or will be expanded to “classic” U. S. numismatic coins.
Morgan Silver Dollar Replicas and Counterfeits
The History of Morgan Silver Dollar Replicas And Counterfeits
Pretty much every coin of value has been counterfeited contemporaneously, and afterward, if the coin has value enough to justify counterfeiting. Morgan Dollars are no exception, with both contemporary and modern counterfeits in existence.
“Replicas” of Morgan Dollars must be clearly marked “copy” and/or be noticeably different in size and/or design from a genuine Morgan Dollar to avoid violating anti-counterfeiting statutes.
How To Identify And Avoid Counterfeit Coins?
Buying third-party authenticated coins from PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS gives one a lifetime guarantee of authenticity offered by each of the four grading services.
Viewing as many coins as possible in the series which you want to collect helps you to sense, with many counterfeits, that “something doesn’t look right” about the fake coin. Getting a “second opinion” BEFORE buying an uncertified coin can also help.
Dealing with a coin dealer who is an American Numismatic Association member or a Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) member supports the authenticity of a coin purchased from that dealer.
The Different Types of Morgan Silver Dollar Replicas And Counterfeits
This is a difficult question to respond to, since a counterfeit Morgan Dollar (whether made in the 19th Century or yesterday) is a counterfeit coin, illegal to pass as a medium of exchange.
“Replica” Morgan Dollars marked “copy,” and/or struck in a markedly different size or with obviously different design characteristics are intended to be obvious replicas that would not be accepted as a medium of exchange.
An interesting type of Morgan Dollar replica is occasionally found on one Troy ounce silver rounds (which have their own value based upon the commodity exchange price of silver) but which bear only a superficial design resemblance to a genuine Morgan Dollar.
Famous Morgan Silver Dollars
The Most Famous Morgan Silver Dollars
Any Morgan Dollar minted at the Carson City, Nevada Mint (1878-1885 and again from 1889-1893) is “famous” and generally in strong demand, due to the widely perceived “Old West” connection associated with the Carson City Mint.
The 1895 Morgan Dollar is also famous. It is widely accepted that all of the 12,000 1895 Morgan Dollars struck for circulation were melted as part of the 1918 Pittman Act melting of over 270,000,000 Morgan Dollars. That left only 880 Proof 1895 Morgan Dollars, created for sale to contemporary collectors. Most of those still exist (some spent by their owners during economic hard times such as the Great Depression), but given the large number of Morgan Dollar collectors and investors today, most will never be able to ever own an 1895.
Their Significance in American History
The significance of the Morgan Dollar in U. S. History is as a symbol of the monetary and political conflict in the mid-to late Nineteenth Century over whether the U. S. would have a non-inflationary gold standard (generally desired by bankers and businesses), an inflationary bi-metallic gold/silver standard (generally desired by Populist/agrarian interests and “Free Silverites” experiencing difficult economic times and desiring a way to more easily pay their mortgages, agricultural bills, etc.)
with the value ratio between the value of silver versus that of gold expressed in a functional bimetallic economic system (i. E. 16 to 1). As well, Morgan Dollars created in prodigious quantities showed the political power of Western silver mining interests in conjunction with the political power of the pro-silver forces.
Their Value And Rarity
The value and rarity of Morgan Dollars are both “all over the map.” Some “key dates” (i. E. 1895; 1893-S; 1889-CC; etc.) have value and are in great demand regardless of their condition. Others (like the 1881-S; all three 1921 Morgans; etc.) in lower condition grades are worth their silver value plus only a slight “numismatic premium.” Certified in high grades (MS65 and above), these “common-date” Morgan Dollars will begin to show greater values to collectors.
Morgan Silver Dollar Legends and Lore
The myths And Legends Surrounding The Morgan Silver Dollar
By definition, most myths and legends about anything represent “good stories,” which may or may not have specific factual support. Did Billy the Kid have a new uncirculated Morgan Silver Dollar in his pocket when Pat Garrett shot him, as some say? Did Las Vegas casinos in the 1950s and 1960s have more Morgan Silver Dollars than all but the biggest banks?
When LaVere Redfield (a very wealthy Nevada oil/stock market/real estate speculator who did not trust banks or the government and hoarded silver dollars) had his home (where he stored all of his estimated peak hoard of 600K or more silver dollars) was robbed in the 1960s, how many were taken (100K has been estimated),who took them (to date, nobody knows), and what became of them (again, nobody knows. Were they all spent? Were some hidden/buried in unknown locations?)
The Stories Of Hidden Treasure And Lost Coins
Many Morgan Dollars were buried or otherwise hidden through the years by individuals not trusting banks. Metal detectorists have likely found many of these “hidden hoards,” but quantity and locations found in this way tend not to be made available. It seems likely that some number of Morgan Dollar hoards of this type have yet to be discovered.
Wayne Miller in his The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook tells of a miner who secreted 1,700 silver dollars over the winter in the mine shaft that he was working, only to find that vandals had dynamited his mineshaft shut when he returned the next spring. Miller also mentions how a hotel fire melted 900 silver dollars into unrecognizable blobs of silver.
Many more such stories and “hidden treasure” locations are perhaps “out there,” awaiting further information and discovery!
The Superstitions And Beliefs Associated With The Coin
For many years throughout the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Morgan Silver Dollars were frequently given as birthday/wedding/graduation presents in the belief that such gifts would not only provide economic purchasing power to the recipient, but Good Fortune as well!
One superstition allegedly from the Irish involves cooking a silver dollar (which had been hidden outside and brought in just before midnight) on New Year’s Day with the cabbage that would be then eaten as corned beef and cabbage on New Year’s Day.
Another involves placing a silver dollar under the mainmast of a sailing vessel as it was being constructed to insure the sailing vessel’s safe sailing. Some aviators in WWII carried silver dollars as “good luck” coins that (it was hoped) would bring the aviator back safely from his mission.
Morgan Silver Dollar in Popular Culture
The Morgan Silver Dollar has been featured in various forms of popular culture, including movies and TV shows. One of the most famous examples is the 1969 Western movie “True Grit,” where the main character, Rooster Cogburn, carries a silver dollar with him as a lucky charm.
The coin has also been referenced in literature and music, such as in the song “Silver Dollar” by Chris Hillman. The Morgan Silver Dollar symbolizes American pop culture, representing the country’s rich history and tradition.
Morgan Silver Dollar Auctions and Sales
The Most Expensive Morgan Silver Dollars Ever Sold
Currently, the finest 1893-S Morgan Dollar known (PCGS MS67/CAC-endorsed) from the Jack Lee Collection holds the record at $2,086,875.
The Trends And Market Outlook For Morgan Silver Dollars
Nobody possesses an accurate “crystal ball” to predict the future, but today Morgan Silver Dollars have become the most widely collected U. S. coin, supplanting the Lincoln Cent. Should that trend continue, Morgan Silver Dollars may continue to represent both a desired collectible (especially in “key date”/high-grade coins graded by PCGS, NGC, CACG, or ANACS) and a “tangible asset” based upon the value of the .7734 Troy ounces of silver that each contains.
The Enduring Legacy Of The Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan Dollar has represented a U. S. political and economic legacy for nearly 150 years now. As well, it has been a widely pursued collectible at least since the early Twentieth Century. If anything, the popularity of the Morgan Dollar as a “hard asset” and a collectible has only increased since the U. S. government GSA sales of (mostly) uncirculated Carson City Dollars began in 1972.
Will the popularity and availability of Morgan Dollars continue into the future? Nobody knows, but based upon the Morgan Dollar’s desirability for the past 125 years or so, its future popularity seems likely.
Its Significance In American History And Culture
The Morgan Silver Dollar especially benefited Western states’ (where silver dollars often circulated in preference to paper currency into the 1960s) agrarian interests, and silver mining interests. Although economic circulation of the Morgan Dollar was light (except in Western states), it represented an attempt to politically and economically placate groups in U. S. society seeking a silver-based, potentially inflationary means of exchange.
Especially in western states and among “hard money” advocates, the size, heft, and precious metal content of a silver dollar were seen as desired characteristics of “real money.” The silver dollar as a response to “Free Silverites”/Populists, etc. also added to some of the public perception of the importance of this coin.
The Morgan Silver Dollar has been featured in various forms of popular culture, including movies and TV shows. One of the most famous examples is the 1969 Western movie “True Grit,” where the main character, Rooster Cogburn, carries a silver dollar with him as a lucky charm. The coin has also been referenced in literature and music, such as in the song “Silver Dollar” by Chris Hillman. The Morgan Silver Dollar symbolizes American pop culture, representing the country’s rich history and tradition.
The Appeal And Popularity Of The Coin Today
Due to the survival (often in high numismatic grades) of many of the 657,000,000 Morgan Dollars minted between 1878 and 1921, and the many possible “collecting subsets” in the Morgan Dollar series, the Morgan Dollar is the most widely collected coin series today. Its substantial “heft,” its .7734 Troy ounces of silver, and its widely admired design have helped fuel the popularity of the Morgan Dollar today, and perhaps into the future.
Sources & References
- Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopaedia of United States Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars By by Leroy C. Van Allen (Author), A. George Mallis (Author)
- The Coin Dealer Newsletter
- The American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins , edited by Ken Bressett
- Making The Grade: Comprehensive Grading Guide for U. S. Coins by Beth Deisher and William Gibbs.
- USA Coin Book
- Coin News
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