1891-S Morgan Silver Dollar
By 1849 San Francisco was booming with settlers who had crossed the rugged country in search of wealth in the gold mines during what would be known as the "California Gold Rush." By 1854 the US Mint expanded to San Francisco and built a facility there to handle all of the newly mined metal. The original facility was abandoned for a larger building in 1874. This building withstood the test of time and the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, but eventually a more modern facility was needed, so they moved again in 1937 to the building they use today.
Morgan Dollar History
The Coinage Act of 1873 had put an end to the standard weight 'Seated Liberty' dollar in favor of a slightly heavier coin to be used for trade in the orient. The Seated Dollar was not in favor among the Chinese because of its slightly lighter weight as compared to the comparable coins of China, Japan, and Mexico. The new 'Trade Dollar' was the answer, and was minted from 1873 until 1885, although the final coins were minted for trade in 1878. All issues minted thereafter were proof coins made for collectors.
The Bland-Allison Act of 1878 required the U.S Treasury to purchase between $2 and $4 million in silver each year to mint into silver dollars, further supporting the idea of backing the U.S. dollar with both gold and silver. Because the government wanted to return to standard weight silver dollars for circulation, the Trade dollar was officially demonetized in 1876, and an order was given in 1877 to cease production of the coins in favor of the new coins. This is where the Morgan Dollar comes into the picture.
When the Trade Dollar was demonetized and orders were to stop producing them, there was a desperate need for a new standard silver dollar design. Mint officials accepted a revision of a half dollar design created by Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan, and English born die sinker who had traveled to the United States just two years prior to begin working on American coin designs. After his new design was put into production in 1878 it was modified slightly to correct the number of tail feathers on the eagle and to lower the relief for better striking, but the basic design remained virtually unchanged throughout the life of the series which ended in 1921.
Morgan Dollar Design
First used in commerce beginning in 1878, the Morgan Dollar is the most iconic 'American' coin, evoking thoughts of the old West, antique casino slot machines, and huge caches of buried treasure among the youth and imaginative people of the United States. It is among the most collected coin designs in the world, and ranks highest among all silver dollars for the number of known issues and the number of collectors purchasing them.
Morgan designed the coin with agriculture in commerce in mind, with representation of cotton and wheat in the headdress of Lady Liberty on the obverse. The reverse design was to be a simple eagle with wings outspread surrounded by a wreath of olive branches. The design was simple yet ornate enough to win over the Chief Engraver's design (William Barber) in the eyes of the Director of the Mint, Henry Richard Linderman.
Morgan Silver Dollars as Collectibles
Morgan dollars were minted in record numbers through most of the years they were made. Although their mintage figures seem very small in comparison to today's coins, they were very plentiful for the population of the late 19th century. Even at that, many are gone today through melting, natural attrition and for other various reasons. While it is true that many Morgan dollars are still readily accessible through collector channels, their numbers are far smaller today than their mintage figures may indicate.
Today Morgan silver dollars are considered highly collectible and are among the most popular coins in US Mint history. National numismatic clubs have been formed around collecting this prized Silver Dollar, and books are still being published with newly discovered varieties and information about these coins which - for the most part - have been around for a century!
|Year of Issue:||1891|
|Weight in Grams:||24.055 g|
|Weight in Ounces:||0.7734 oz|
|Legal Tender:||United States|
|Obverse Design:||Liberty facing left flanked by stars|
|Reverse Design:||Eagle clasping arrows and olive branch within half wreath|
|Reverse Designer/Engraver:||George T. Morgan|
|Obverse Designer/Engraver:||George T. Morgan|