The Morgan dollar, minted from 1878 to 1904 and in 1921, is a United States dollar coin. The Coinage Act of 1873 ended the free coining of silver and the production of the Seated Liberty dollar. The Morgan dollar was the first standard silver dollar minted since the passage of the said Act.

Table of Contents

The design

In 1876, the Director of the Mint was Henry Linderman. He began efforts to redesign the silver coins of the nation. He requested the Deputy Master to find him a first-class die-sinker. It was for the position of Assistant Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint. They found the thirty-year-old George Morgan. He ended up with the design for the silver dollar. The obverse of the coin shows a profile portrait of Liberty. The reverse side has an eagle with outstretched wings. The mint mark is sometimes seen on the reverse above the O in DOLLAR. Morgan’s reverse design was also used on a special silver dollar. It was for the commemoration of the old San Francisco Mint building.


The Bland-Allison Act in 1873 authorized the Morgan dollar. The Act required the Treasury to buy between two and four million dollars’ worth of silver. Bought at market value, the government will coin these into dollars each month. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890 repealed the Bland-Allison Act. It required the Treasury to buy 4,500,000 troy ounces or 140,000 kg of silver each month. The Act only required further silver dollar production for a year. The Act was again repealed in 1893.

The Congress approved a bill in 1898. All remaining bullion bought under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act became silver dollars. The Mint stopped to strike the Morgan dollar when those silver reserves depleted in 1904. The Pittman Act in 1918 authorized the melting and recoining of silver dollars. Morgan dollars resumed mintage in 1921. The Peace dollar replaced the design later the same year.


There was a discovery of a large quantity of uncirculated Morgan dollars in their original bags in the 1960s. They were in the Treasury vaults with issues once thought rare. People began to buy large quantities of the pieces at face value. They removed them from circulation by hoarding. The Treasury then ceased exchanging silver certificates for silver coins. The Treasury started to conduct a sale of silver dollars in the 1970s. Those minted at the Carson City Mint were on sale through the General Services Administration.

The Morgan silver dollars, produced every year between 1878 and 1904, had a total of 4 different mints. Each mint has its own mint mark except for the Philadelphia mint. Production resumed for a year in 1921 using the Denver mint.