Morgan Silver Dollar
Nearly 140 years ago in 1878, the United States Mint first struck a coin that changed the course of numismatic history: the legendary Morgan Silver Dollar.
The coin was authorized by Congress in the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, which in turn was inspired by the tremendous amount of silver coming out of the Comstock Lode in Nevada. The Comstock Lode proved to be the greatest silver discovery in American history, but it was producing so much silver that it threatened to devalue the price of silver – and since the U.S. dollar was tied to silver, it meant the American economy was in danger of collapsing!
The Bland-Allison Act required the U.S. Treasury to purchase large quantities of silver every month at a predetermined price and convert that silver into silver dollars, thereby keeping the price of silver stable and saving the economy.
Since the U.S. Mint did not currently issue a silver dollar, U.S. Mint engraver George T. Morgan came up with a new design for the new coin. The coin became known as the Morgan Silver Dollar in his honor.
Morgan Silver Dollars were first released in 1878, and ever since that date they have been admired and cherished by collectors everywhere. The coins are renowned for their beauty – a stunning portrait of Liberty on the obverse and a bold image of an eagle on the reverse – but they are also widely collected because of their connection to the “Wild West.” Due to their large size and 90% silver content, they were especially prized by Western settlers, cowboys, and outlaws.
In 1918, the U.S. government ordered the wholesale melting of Morgan Silver Dollars to pay for World War I and to create a new source of silver for new silver coins. As a result, more than 50 percent of the entire mintage of Morgan Silver Dollars was melted. Millions more were melted in the 1960’s and later when the price of silver started to rise.
Although once plentiful, just a fraction of Morgan Silver Dollars remain today. Every coin is a cherished collector’s item, but the first-year 1878 coin has always been a key to the series. However, the 1878 coin becomes harder to find with every passing day … and the day will come when it is no longer available at a reasonable price!