Auction #988590 1880-S Morgan Silver Dollars - US Coin Watch This Item
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Closing Date:
Sep 29, 2013
10:16 PM PDT
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Coin Information
Name: 1880-S Morgan Silver Dollars - US Coin
General Information
Year: 1880
Coin Name: Morgan Silver Dollars
Denomination: One Dollar
Mintmark: S
Mint: San Francisco
Designer: George T. Morgan
Coin Composite
Metal Content: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 26.73 grams
Diameter: 38.1 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Circulation Statistics
Circulation Strikes: 8,900,000
Proofs: 0
Other Coin Information
Condition: Good (G-6)
Coin History

With no actual need for a new silver dollar in the late 1870's, political pressure brought the Morgan dollar into fruition. With the last previous "cartwheel", the Liberty Seated dollar, having been legislated out of existence in 1873, no one seemed to miss it. Silver-mining interest missed the dollar completely, yet congress demanded its return. The Comstock Lode in Nevada was yielding huge quantities of silver, with ore being extracted to make annually $36 million. The silver forces in Congress finally succeeded in gaining authorization for a new silver dollar, with this change led by Representative Richard ("Silver Dick") Bland of Missouri. On February 28, 1878, Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act which required that the Treasury purchase silver bullion at market levels between two million and four million dollars every month which was to be coined into dollars. This amounted to a small subsidy, coming at a time when the dollar's face value exceeded its intrinsic worth by only 0.07%.

About four months before passing the Bland-Allison Act, in November 1877, the Treasury began making preparations for a new dollar coin. Mint Director Henry P. Linderman instructed Chief Engraver William Barber and his assistant George T. Morgan to prepare pattern dollars, with the best design to be used on the new coin. Linderman favored Morgan's designs, as he had been dissatisfied with the work of the two Barbers-William and his son, Charles. Because of this, in 1876 he hired Morgan, a talented British engraver, with plans to entrust him with new coin designs. At this time, the resumption of the silver dollar coinage was not yet planned, and Morgan commenced work on the designs that were intended for the half dollar. Linderman requested that Morgan create a design that had the head of Liberty, replace the full-figure depiction that was in use. To create this portrait, Morgan hired Philadelphia school teacher Anna Willess Williams to pose for the new design.

The obverse of Morgan's design has a left-facing Liberty with the reverse depicting a eagle, that many deemed too scrawny, therefore acquiring its nickname the "buzzard dollar". Morgan's initial appears on both sides of the coin, which was a first for any coin designer. The initial M is on the truncation of Liberty's neck and on the ribbons left loop on the reverse. Mintmarks (O, S, D, and CC) can be found on the reverse below the wreath. The first places for wear are on the hair above Liberty's eye and ear, the high upper fold of her cap and on the crest of the eagle's breast.

After production began, it was advised to the Mint that the eagle should have seven tail feathers, rather than the eight Morgan initially designed. As a result, Linderman ordered this change and therefore some 1878 Morgan dollars have either eight feathers, seven feathers or seven-and some shown seven over eight. The seven-over-eight variety is the most rare edition, although all are fairly common.

Between 1878 and 1904 more than half a billion Morgan dollars were struck, with production taking place at Philadelphia, the main mint, and the branches in New Orleans, San Francisco and Carson City. Carson City production was much lower than other mints, and production ended completely after the branch was closed in 1893. The coin came back for one final production in 1921, when more than 86 million examples were produced under the Pittman Act at Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, however the only difference was a double-edged sword. Under the 1918 legislation, more than 270 million silver dollars from previous years, almost all Morgan's, had been melted. With the law requiring replacements for these, most replacements were of the Peace design which replaced the Morgan design at the end of 1921.

657 million Morgan dollars were produced in 96 difference date and mint combinations. Millions were melted over the years by the government under the Pittman Act and the Silver Act of 1942, and by private refiners since the late 1960's, when rising silver prices made this profitable. Despite so many having been melted, there are still many coins available for collecting. Huge stockpiles remain in the Treasury vault's as of today, as well as in bank vaults nation wide, which is why so many Morgan dollars are well preserved today, despite their age.

Beginning in the 1930's the numismatic hobby saw huge growth. While most collectors preferred the lower face-value coins that were readily available in circulation, it was possible to order silver dollars through banks or directly from the Treasury, although no one seemed to take advantage of this opportunity. However, in the late 1930's several Washington dealers learned that the Treasury

Department's Cash Room, near the White House, was paying out uncirculated Carson City Dollar coins, having a market value of $5 of more at the time. Many dealers quietly took advantage of this discovery throughout the 1940' s and 50's.

In the early 1960's silver was greatly rising in price. Many people recognized this as an opportunity to turn fast profits through redeeming silver certificates for dollar coins, mainly Morgan's, at the Treasury. In 1964 the government stopped this and only 2.9 million cartwheels were left in the vault's, with almost all of them scarce Carson City Morgans. These were bid off in a series of mail-bid sales from 1972 through 1980, earning big profits for the government and exploding interest in silver dollars.

There was heightened interest in the Morgan Silver Dollars when publicity arose regarding over 400,000 Morgan's having been found in the basement of LaVere Redfield's home in Nevada. After word spread, several dealers became involved. Eventually the Probate Court was involved, holding an auction in January of 1976. At that sale, A-Mark coins of Los Angeles captured the most with a winning bid of $7.3 million. The coins were cooperatively marketed by a number of dealers over a period of several years. Rather than depressing prices, the organized dispersal of the coins brought more interest to collectors in regards to the Morgan Silver Dollar .Similarly, the early 1980's witnessed the equally successful distribution of the 15 million silver dollars in the Continental Bank hoard.

The Morgan dollar's history is very unique. Until the 1960's the Morgan was largely ignored by the public, but eventually has become one of the most widely collected and treasured of all U.S. coins. Although many collectors aim to assemble a complete date and mintmark set in Mint State, it is popular to collect just one coin per year. Type collectors also aim to collect only the most exceptional specimens.

Important dates include, 1895, 1893-S, 1895-O, 1892-S, 1889-CC, 1884-S and 1879-CC. Mint records indicate that 12,000 business strike dollars were made in Philadelphia in 1895, but only proofs are know to exist, with 880 mintage's. Proofs were made for every year in the series, however only a few brilliant proofs are known for 1921, with anywhere from 15-24 having been reported and no viable records to reference. Prooflike Morgans are also rare and are collected in both Prooflike (PL) and Deep-Mirror Prooflike (DPL or DMPL).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bowers, Q. David, Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States. A Complete Encyclopedia, Bowers and Merena, Wolfeboro, NH, 1993. Breen, Walter, Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, F.C.I. Press/Doubleday, New York, 1988. Fey, Dr. Michael S. and Oxman, Jeff, The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys, RCI Publishing, Morris Plains, NJ, 1996. Miller, Wayne, The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook, Adam Smith Pub. Co., Metairie, LA, 1982. Taxay, Don, The U.S. Mint and Coinage, Arco Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1966. Yeoman, R.S., A Guide Book of United States Coins, 47th Edition, Western Publishing Co., Racine, WI, 1993. Van Allen, Leroy C. & Mallis, A. George, Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars, 3rd Edition, DLRC Press, Virginia Beach, VA 1991.

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