ZanzibarCoins's Blog

31 Aug 2020

Large Dollar Coins, Morgan Dollars, Part Two :)

Young Numismatists Exchange | ZanzibarCoins

Hi everyone! We have been out of town for a while, and we had a lovely vacation in Wyoming, going to Yellowstone and Grand Teton (beautiful, the both of them!!). But I'm back now! I hope to, possibly, have two posts today, because I was working on them a little while on the road, but the second one isn't done yet, so we shall see... Anyways, Morgan Dollars part two! The hunt for a designer, a model, and a solid idea for the design! Here we go! :)

So the bill for the Morgan dollar, after much legal tennis, and headache, has been passed, in the year 1878. But, before we jump straight to that year, we have to go back in time two years, to 1876, to meet the man who would create the design...

The year is 1876, and Mint Director Henry Linderman wants to redesign the nation's silver coins. He contacted a man named C.W. Fremantle, who was the Deputy Master of the Royal Mint in London at the time. He requested that Fremantle find him "a first class die-sinker who would be willing to take the position of Assistant Engraver at the Mint at Philadelphia." Fremantle responded that "[his] inquiries as to an Assistant Engraver [led him] very strongly to recommend for the post Mr. George Morgan, age 30, who [had] made himself a considerable name, but for whom there [was] not much opening at present in [England]." Linderman and Morgan contacted each other, and they soon reached an agreement -- that Morgan would work at the Philadelphia Mint under Chief Engraver William Barber (hmmm, that name sound familiar?) for a six-month trial. George Morgan, thirty year old Englishman, born in Birmingham, England, was coming to America.

He arrived in Philadelphia on October 9, 1876 (1876... 100 years after America declared Her freedom from his home country. Hmm.). He began to design coins once there, and his earliest designs were intended for the half dollar. The Mint had found a designer for the Morgan dollar.

Still in 1876, Morgan enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as a student, in preparation for creating a new Liberty Head design. He obtained nature studies of the bald eagle as well, to prepare for the reverse design. Then, he needed a model. He wanted to depict an American woman, rather than the usual Greek-style figures from previous designs. While he was looking for a model, his artist friend, Thomas Eakins, suggested that he use Anna Willess Williams, a native of Philadelphia for his model. Morgan agreed to look at her, sought her out, and had a total of five sittings with her. He declared that her profile was the most perfect he had seen. A model had been found.

The year is now 1877. Linderman has asked the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, a man by the names of James Pollock, to "instruct Mr. Morgan to prepare without delay, dies for a silver dollar, the designs, inscriptions, and arrangement thereof to be the same as the enclosed impression for the Half Dollar and numbered '2' substituting the words 'one dollar' in place of 'half dollar'". Linderman has also asked Pollock to "instruct Mr. Barber to prepare a reverse die for a dollar with a representation of an eagle as well as the inscriptions required by law. He will select whichever of his Heads of Liberty he prefers for the obverse of the same." Linderman evidently preferred the designs of Morgan over those of the Chief Engraver; writing Pollock on February 21, 1878, "I have now to state for your information, that it is my intention, in the event of the silver bill now pending in Congress, becoming law, to request the approval by the Secretary of the Treasury, of the dies prepared by Mr. Morgan."

After an almost five year process, the Morgan dollar was slowly starting to kick into gear. Five days after Linderman wrote Pollock about using Morgan's designs for the coin, the law that authorized it was signed. Coinage would begin in March.

Stay tuned for the next post! (Although I do not yet know when that shall be, as it is only partly done...) :) I hope y'all enjoyed this one, which I wrote in somewhat of a story format, because I just felt like it lol. Let me know what you thought of that. :) Also, completely random, but I saw the movie October Sky for the first time last night, and I completely loved it! Have any of y'all seen it? And if so, what did you think of it?

Until later!

~ZC :)



Level 5

Ah, I have been to both parks, and they are both stunning! But im a sucker for beauty out in nature. I really need to start collecting morgans more than I do, moreover, my very first coin I ever owned was an 1880-O morgan! Maybe soon. Thanks for the blog! Cheers, NM


Level 4

Nice history lesson. I will need to do more reading on the topic. Thanks.


Level 6

Good blog. You should also read "The Girl On The Silver Dollar by Burdette". Excellent book for any Morgan fan or history fan as well. Thanks.


Level 4

Thanks, and I'll have to check it out! :)

The king of American coins. Personally, I don't like the gothic style he used for the letters, or the eagle, but the portrait was ahead of his time.


Level 6

Glad to have you back DoubleZ, Your ability to make history come alive are quite good. Thanks and looking forward to the next chapter.


Level 4

Thank you so much!


Level 5

Very nice blog on Morgan. So interesting to learn about the history and politics of designing coins.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I've always liked the Morgan, much better than the Peace Dollar. I like its classic design. Thanks for an interesting blog. Apparently there is a lot to be said for the relationship between Barber and Morgan, as they say now adays , Its Complicated


Level 7

Barber and hi son did everything possible to stop Morgan from coming to the states. Letters verbally complained. You see he was afraid Morgan would take over his job. He worked in his apartment . I read a book The Private Sketchbook of George T.Morgan. By Karen M. Lee. She has copies of Barbers letters in the book. You should read it. I'm not a fan of the Morgan Dollar but of all his other works he won awards for in England. Thanks for the blog.


Level 4

Thanks! And I'll have to check that out! I knew they had some complications in their relationship, but I didn't want to go into that in the post, figured that would make it far, far too long lol.

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