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Morgan Silver Dollars
 
 
The Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most popular and most beautiful of all
classic United States coins.  First minted in 1878, it was a coin that was connected
with the “Wild West.”  It was struck with silver from the Comstock Lode in
Nevada (the most famous and most successful silver strike in American history),
and it was respected everywhere because of its large size and large amount of silver.  It also became known as a “cartwheel” because of its large size.
 
 
The coin was named for its designer, U.S. Mint engraver George T. Morgan. 
The obverse portrays Lady Liberty wearing a slave’s cap (an ancient symbol
of freedom), a ribbon inscribed with the word “Liberty,” and cotton and wheat
as a tribute to America’s agricultural heritage.  The reverse features an
American eagle holding both the olive branch of peace and arrows of war.
 
 
Morgan was originally from England.  He studied with the most renowned
English engravers of the era before coming to Philadelphia to work for the
U.S. Mint.  He claimed that the model for Lady Liberty was a statue in a
Philadelphia museum, but it was soon revealed that the model was, in
fact, a Philadelphia teacher.  When the truth became known, the teacher lost her
job – because being an artist’s model was considered “immoral”!
 
 
Each Morgan Silver Dollar contains over 3/4-ounce of pure American silver. 
The coins were struck from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921.  They were struck
at five different U.S. Mints:  Philadelphia (no mint mark), San Francisco
(“S” mint mark), New Orleans (“O”), Carson City (“CC”), and Denver (“D”). 
Ironically, the Carson City coins are among the rarest despite the Mint being just
a few miles from the Comstock Lode.  The Denver Mint opened in 1906, so the
Denver coin was made only 1921.  The mint mark on coins struck at branch mints
is located on the reverse, under the center of the wreath.