The first Morgan Dollar was struck on March 11, 1878, at 3:17 pm on Philadelphia's Press #4. That coin, now located at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums estate, consisted of 90% silver and 10% copper in metallic content.
Congress had authorized the Morgan Dollar less than two weeks earlier - and five years after legislation made the then-current American dollar coin defunct.
The passing of this coin was not mourned - and, when a new silver dollar arrived in the form of the Morgan Dollar, it was not widely welcomed by the American public. However, this belies the coin's high prestige today.
The Morgan Dollar coin was heavy, almost palm-sized and not what would be widely considered a "people's coin." Designed by United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan, the coin features a profile portrait of Liberty on its obverse and, on the reverse, the depiction of an eagle with outstretched wings and clasping an olive branch and arrows.
Until 1921, most Morgan Dollars were struck in Philadelphia - though some coins were instead pressed at a small mint in Carson City, Nevada, near the Comstock lode's source. Shortly after the mine came into play, the Carson City mint shut its doors in 1893 - long before production of the Morgan Dollar was halted for the final time in 1922.
Unsurprisingly, in light of this, the Carson City-minted coins are now rare and considered collector's items. While the Philadelphia coins do not feature mint marks, a mark spelling 'CC' appears on the Carson City coins. Morgan Dollar coins were also struck in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Denver, and these coins come with mint marks respectively spelling 'S,' 'O' and 'D.'
Production of the Morgan Dollar initially stopped in 1904, having completed a 25-year run - then statuary for a coin design in the United States. Though over 500 million Morgan Dollars had been minted by this point, the coin had languished in popularity, with circulation mostly limited to the sparsely populated West. Massive stockpiles had gathered by 1918 when over 270 million Morgan Dollars were melted down into wartime silver for Great Britain.
This didn't prevent the coining of a further 86 million Morgan Dollars in 1921; however, the following year, the Peace Dollar, intended to commemorate the end of World War I, took its place. This silver coin's design grew so popular that it stayed as the regular silver dollar - finally putting a decisive end to production of the Morgan Dollar, which ironically developed star status as a result. The Morgan Dollar remains among the most well-known and desired American coins existing.
Features of the Morgan Dollar:
Minted in the year 1889
MS64 Graded by NGC
Each coin is 26.73 grams (.859 troy ounces) in weight