2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the last minting of the Morgan silver dollar and the first minting of the Peace silver dollar, two coins that are both cherished by coin collectors. Here we will learn more about both of these coins, their history, and how they became such popular coins in the collector community.
When the U.S. passed the Coinage Act of 1873, the country moved away from silver as a standard of currency to gold exclusively. This legislation removed the rights of silver owners to have their own bullion struck into coinage, and instead, the US government decided to create its own silver coin for circulation. In response to this legislation, the Bland–Allison Act was passed in 1878, requiring the Treasury to purchase silver and circulate it as silver dollars. The Morgan dollar was the first silver coin minted after this legislation was passed.
Minting of this coin took place from 1878-1904 in mints around the country, including Philadelphia, Carson City, San Francisco, and New Orleans. The Morgan dollar was not being minted from 1904 until the 1920s when the US decided to conduct one last production run in 1921 in the Denver mint.
The Morgan dollar was designed by and named after the United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan. It is made of 90% silver and weighs 0.75 oz. The coin pictures a profile of Anna Willess Williams, a schoolteacher who represents Lady Liberty in the image. And the reverse displays the image of an eagle with its wings outstretched.
The Morgan dollar represents the westward expansion of the United States occurring at the time and brings to mind the frontier life led by the pioneers of America who discovered new lands out west. For years, the Morgan dollar has been one of the most popular US silver coins due to its beauty, rarity, and rich history.
The Peace dollar began its minting in 1921 as a planned replacement for the Morgan dollar by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and as a way to commemorate the end of World War I. The Peace Dollar was meant to be a representation of peace following the nation’s World War I victory over Germany. But instead of designing the coin themselves, the Treasury decided to create a competition for designers to depict an image of peace to use on the new coin. The winner of this competition was Italian-American sculptor Anthony de Francisci, whose design would be used on the Peace dollar. Francisci’s design depicts Goddess Liberty on the front and an eagle resting on an olive branch on the reverse.
The Peace dollar was minted from 1921 to 1928, after which time the Pittman Act legislation required the coin to be discontinued. It was minted once again in 1934 and 1935 after new legislation allowed for its striking. Due to this limited minting and its aesthetically pleasing design, the Peace dollar remains a favorite among collectors.
In the early 1900s, Great Britain had a silver shortage. And with World War I in full swing, the country needed the precious metal to back its currency and support its war efforts. So, to help the British, Key Pittman of Nevada proposed legislation that would take circulating silver dollars and melt them down into bullion to sell to the British. This came to be known as the Pittman Act.
The Pittman Act would ultimately result in the “Great Melting” of 270,232,722 Morgan silver dollars being melted down into silver bullion, thereby taking these coins out of circulation and forever destroying them. Unfortunately, many other meltings occurred as well up through the 1980s as silver prices boomed. Therefore, both of these coins, while at one time common in the United States, are now rare coins cherished by collectors.
Both the Morgan Dollar and Peace Dollar were re-released as commemorative coins in 2021 as 100th-anniversary commemorative coins. Collectors were so excited at the prospect of owning these commemorative coins that the available inventory sold out within minutes of the first day of sales.
At BullionMax, various Morgan Dollar and Peace Dollar coins dated as early as 1880 are available for investors and collectors alike.