ZanzibarCoins's Blog

01 Sep 2020

Large Dollar Coins, Morgan Dollars, Part Three :)

Young Numismatists Exchange | ZanzibarCoins

Hi everyone and here is the third part of the Morgan Dollar blog post series! :) I was unable to find the time yesterday to finish it and put it up, but here it is now. :) In this article, I want to talk about the beginning of the production of Morgan dollars. I'll do it in story form, since some of y'all liked that, and also, it is fun for me. So yeah. :) Here we go!

The year is still 1878. The date is March 11th. The time is three p.m. in the afternoon. The Mint is alive and thrumming with the energy of the people in it, and the hum and whir and clank of the presses. Adjustments are needed for the press for the Morgan dollars. Hurriedly, they are made. Now it is 3:17 p.m., and excitement is running high throughout the building. The first acceptable Morgan has been coined! It is given to President Hayes, and the second and third Morgans are given to the Secretary of the Treasury, John Sherman, and the Mint Director, Henry Linderman.

The production of the Morgans has begun, and Henry Linderman has realized he has a problem. The Bland-Allison Act, the piece of legislation that is responsible for all of this, really, says that the Treasury must purchase between two and four million dollar's worth of silver at market value, to be coined into the Morgans, a month.This means that he has to mint enough dollars each month to hit the necessary quota the Act has set, to use up all of that month's purchase of silver. He wanted to involve the two western mints of San Francisco and Carson City to make it easier to hit that quota, but the mints ran into a snag. Philadelphia made and prepared all of the dies. And it was believed that the Western mints did not have the proper equipment to prepare the dies for use. The pressure in Philadelphia was so great that no one had the time to take care of the dies for the western mints. So that was put on hold. Something else was also put on hold... the production of all other coins at thePhiladelphia Mint. The Philadelphia Mint also started operating overtime.

As the second week of production rolled around, Linderman pointed out a "slight imperfection" in the dies for the dollar, and changes to the design quickly began. They changed the relief of the designs, since the high relief of the first dies was killing the dies in a much shorter time than they could "afford" (no pun intended lol). They also changed the number of the eagles tail feathers, dropping it from eight to seven. This was because all United States coinage prior to the Morgan depicted the bald eagle as having an odd number of tail feathers. The Philadelphia Mint ended up having to pull together the monthly quota for March all on their own. By the time dies were eventually sent out to the western mints, it was already April. And when they finally arrived, it was April 16 (they arrived at both mints the same day, actually). But Philadelphia was not done bearing the brunt of the work. She had the help of San Francisco and Carson City, but they all had to wait for New Orleans to join the group in 1879. And then after that, there was no Denver Mint until 1906. But then, even after the Denver Mint was founded, she actually didn't mint any Morgan dollars until 1921, the last year of their run.

The Morgan dollar had to conform to the Coinage Act of 1837, so she contained ninety percent silver and ten percent copper, and measured 38.1 millimeters in diameter and weighed 412.5 grams. The mint marks that appeared on the coins were: nothing for Philadelphia, "CC" for Carson City, "S" for San Francisco, "O" for New Orleans, and "D" for Denver. (Although I am sure that you all know those lol)

I hope y'all enjoyed this post! I shall have more later, most likely next week. School starts up again next week as well, wish me luck! :)

Until later!

~ZC :)



Level 5

I love these! Thanks for spreading the wealth. You have a very fun and engaging writing style! Cheers, NM

The act supported the silver mines in Nevada, but it made for some very common coins, and it wasn't a good decision for the mint.


Level 5

This is a well written post ZC ! I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to your next post. You also had me hooked with the "tension" in Philadelphia for sure! Most of this narrative I was unaware of and it was a great history lesson. Good luck in school and I hope you do well!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Really interesting article, thanks. Good style of writing too!


Level 7

I would like to read more about this. Could you kindly give a bibliography. It sounds interesting!


Level 4

Sure! Wikipedia - The Morgan Dollar, Wikipedia - George Morgan, The Red Book Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States by Q. David Bowers, Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by George A. Mallis, A Guidebook of United States Coins by R. S. Yeoman, "The Great Panic of 1893 and its Aftermath" in The Numismatist, by Eric Brothers (Jan 2011, archived)


Level 4

Nice history lesson which shows the stress they were under at the time. One note, I believe you meant 412.5 grains?


Level 4

Yes you're right. I'm sorry, that was a typo that flew right over my head in the proof reading. Oops. Thanks for catching it!


Level 5

Well School is necessary, don't approach it like a chore, approach it like a new coin type! Thanks for the roll up on the Morgan's. Good Luck, Later!


Level 5

Do us all proud in school ! Study hard and don't procrastinate. Do you home work asap ! Love Morgans, nothing like a nice big piece of silver.


Level 6

Wow, you got me going there with all that tension in Philadelphia. Normally us Pittsburgers have no sympathy for Philly but I was rooting for them. Good Job, ZZ, you're a very good writer.


Level 6

Nice finish. Good luck at school. I'll be waiting for your Peace Dollar series. Thanks.

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