Morgan Dollar

Obverse of 1884-CC Morgan Silver Dollar
Reverse of 1884-CC Morgan Silver Dollar

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Ron Guth: The Coinage Act of 1873 demonetized silver, leading to the demise of the silver dollar. Although Trade dollars were produced from 1873-1878, they were meant for circulation overseas and were not legal tender in America. In response to the sour economic condition that persisted through much of the 1870's, and as a sop to Western suppliers of silver, Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act in 1878. The Act required the U.S. government to purchase large quantities of silver and turn it into silver dollars. Thus, the dollar denomination was restored once again in the form of the Morgan dollar. Named after its designer, George T. Morgan, the Morgan dollar is one of the most popular of all American coins. It's large size, abundant supply, and pleasing appearance make it both affordable and desirable.

Morgan Dollars were struck without interruption from 1878-1904, then again in 1921. U.S. Mints that produced Morgan Dollars include Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Denver, and Carson City. Mintmarks for all mints except Philadelphia were placed on the reverse of the coins just beneath the ribbon bow of the wreath.

Key dates in this series include 1889-CC, 1893-S, and 1895 (Proof only). Other dates (such as 1895-O) are considered condition-rarities (common in low grade but extremely rare in high grade).

Silver Dollars were once the mainstay of Las Vegas casinos, where they were used in slot machines and other gaming devices. Once silver prices advanced beyond the face value of the coins, the casinos converted over to chips and tokens. Some of the popularity of Silver Dollars can be attributed to three watershed events: 1) the sale of the Redfield hoard in the 1970s; 2) the GSA sales of the 1980's; and 3) the Continental-Illinois Bank Hoard of the 1980s. The Redfield hoard consisted of hundreds of bags of silver dollars, most Uncirculated and include a wide range of dates, most from the San Francisco Mint. The GSA sales consisted of millions of Carson City mint silver dollars discovered in Treasury vaults in the 1970s, apparently of coins that had never circulated. The Continental-Illinois Bank Hoard was even larger than the Redfield hoard and the overall quality exceeded that of both the Redfield and GSA hoards.

Popular collecting methods include high-grade date sets, complete sets from low to high grade, and by VAM varieties. VAM (the acronym for Van Allen-Mallis) refers to a set of Morgan Dollar varieties, some of which are insignificant and other important varieties that can be identified at arm's length.