Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan silver dollar has a long and storied history which all begun with the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 and finished with the Pittman Act of 1918 which brought forth the silver Peace Dollar. Prior to 1878 the silver dollar that was being circulated was the Seated Liberty Dollar designed by Christian Gobrecht. Available for sale are 1921, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, and more Morgan Silver Dollars.
Prior to the enactment of the Fourth Coinage Act which ended the gold to silver ratio, also known as a bimetallic standard, silver producers could walk into any mint with silver bullion in hand and have it minted into coinage for a small fee. The problem with this was that the value of the metal was less than the face value of the coin which put a flood of currency into the system creating inflation. Therefore the Fourth Coinage Act eliminated the production of silver dollars.
If an effort to resume the free coinage of silver the Bland-Allison Act was passed which required the U.S. Treasury to purchase between two and four million dollars worth of silver per month to be minted into silver dollars at the old 16:1 gold to silver ratio. Thus the Morgan Silver Dollar was born.
Design and Specifications
Henry Linderman, Director of the Mint, began the process of redesigning the nation’s silver dollar. As such he was open to submissions by engravers at the Mint. Linderman chose the design by George T. Morgan who was a 30 year-old Assistant Engraver to William Barber at the Philadelphia Mint.
Morgan’s design featured an “American” looking woman rather than the preferred “Greek” looking women of the time period. In order to achieve this he looked for an American model to sit for him. At the suggestion of his friend and fellow artist Thomas Eakins he used Anna Willess Williams who sat for him a total of five times. Morgan described her to have the perfect profile.
The reverse design depicted the image of a bald eagle with wings outstretched with the motto “In God We Trust” inscribed above his head, with one talon clutching an olive branch and the other a bunch of arrows signifying Congress’s ability to create peace or war.
When the coin was first released it was unpopular and was made fun of, being called the “Buzzard Dollar” due to the look and shape of the eagle on the reverse. While unpopular at first, today it is considered to be one of the most popular and most collected coins in history.