The first name in collectible U.S. silver dollars is Morgan. Designed in whole by George T. Morgan, Morgan Dollars are 90.0 per cent pure silver which translates to 0.733 troy ounces per coin. Over 570 million Morgan Silver Dollars were minted between 1878 and 1904, and an additional 86 million plus in 1921, when the silver coin was reminted. The dollars were produced in many national mints including, Carson City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Absence of a mintmark on one of these coins indicates that it was struck in the United States Mint in Philadelphia. Carson City minted Morgans are typically the most valuable of the series based on the low mintage numbers there. Most Morgan proofs were also minted in Philadelphia, and a special edition was produced in Denver during the coin’s 1921 run.
The Morgan Silver Dollar was really a result of the Bland-Allison Act, which itself was a result of the Comstock Lode. And the discovery of the Comstock Lode may have just been an example of good old fashioned greed and hard work. Either way, it was one of the largest silver strikes in history. When this huge cache of silver was discovered in now Nevada, then part of the western Utah territory, it had a detrimental effect on the price of silver internationally. The Bland-Allison Act required the government, specifically the Department of the Treasury to purchase silver – large amounts of it, and to convert it to coins. And thus, the Morgan Silver Dollar was born.
As with many other collectible coins, the Morgan Dollar series has its share of errors and “happy accidents.” In fact this coin is renowned for its many different varieties. In its very first year, the Philadelphia Mint apparently missed one of the eagle’s tail feathers on the coin’s reverse, displaying seven instead of 8. In 1882, the New Orleans mintmark “O” was struck over San Francisco’s “S” producing another rarity and variety. The 1887 O was apparently an overdate with the “7” imposed over the 6 from the previous year’s mintage. And in the following year New Orleans was at it again, begging the question, “Are they doing it on purpose?” The first of these varieties is referred to as ScarFace because of the impression of a “scar” on the face of Lady Liberty on the coin’s obverse. The second variety bears the racy (in numismatic circles anyway) moniker, “Hot Lips,” because Liberty’s image was doubled and offset, making her lips appear puckered.
With all of its varieties and even less rare runs, the Morgan Silver Dollar is easily worth its weight in silver – and then some.